Five Minutes with Head Men’s Basketball Coach Steve Ernst ’91

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Steve Ernst ’91 serves as the head men’s basketball coach at The University of Olivet, entering his third year this season. In 2017-18, Coach Ernst led the Comets to a 16-11 overall record and a share of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) title with a 10-4 record. The accomplishment made a mark on OC men’s basketball history as the team last won the MIAA championship in 1973. In addition, Olivet hosted the MIAA Tournament semifinals and championship game for the first time in school history. Coach Ernst coached three All-MIAA selections, including MIAA Most Valuable Player and scoring champion Jalen Adams.

These accolades are just the most recent successes Coach Ernst has earned. During his first season on the Comet sideline in 2016-17, Coach Ernst led the Comets to a 9-16 overall record. The nine wins were two more than the previous two seasons combined. He also mentored Eric Ewing who was the MIAA’s scoring champion.

Prior to serving OC, Coach Ernst earned several outstanding high school coaching achievements and had success in roles as a community college coach and Division II assistant coach. During his own time as a high school student, he earned first-team All-State honors as a senior, and led the MIAA in assists during the 1989 season as a student at Alma College. While growing up, Coach Ernst shared a passion for basketball with his family, and today, his number one goal is to share that passion in a family-like environment with his team at The University of Olivet.

Why do you love OC?

I am grateful to Ryan Shockey, athletic director, for giving me an opportunity to come back to coach. I enjoy coaching students at The University of Olivet as they are very hard workers.

What is your favorite memory from your time at OC?

I originally began as the interim head coach of the team, and my favorite memory was being named head coach in January of my first year at OC.

Where do your passions for coaching and basketball stem from?

I am the son of a hoop coach. My dad, Jerry, even served as my high school basketball coach in Charlotte. I have been very lucky to have tremendous opportunities in this game, and many of them stem from my dad’s passion that he shared with me.

What is your coaching style like?

I believe that we all crave some structure and discipline in our lives. I try to bring that daily, while upholding relationships at the core of our program.

What’s the average day in your role, or some of the unique things you are responsible for?

While coaching is in my title, much of my time is spent helping my players with their life issues and academics. Success on the court is only one part of a student’s journey, and only one part of coaching. I enjoy helping my players move closer to understanding what being a student-athlete means, as well as what it means to be a good man.

Why do you encourage students to attend OC?

Simple—every student develops lifelong relationships while at OC with professors, coaches, friends and mentors. In addition, students earn a degree that they can be proud of.

What do you look forward to in your role?

I really enjoy opportunities to connect with fellow coaches and the memories made with my team in practice.

What advice do you share with students?

Life is a banquet and most people are starving to death. Do not wait any longer to go for your dreams.

What is an interesting or little known fact about yourself?

I published my own basketball magazine, and I learned the tools to do so at OC.

Learn more about The University of Olivet and opportunities for students in the classroom and on the court by scheduling a campus visit, which can include a special meeting with OC basketball coaches. Contact the Office of Admissions at 800.456.7189 or admissions@uolivet.edu for questions. Plus, catch the men’s basketball team in action this season.


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