As assistant men's basketball coach at Kansas City Kansas Community College last season, Joe McKinstry was a first-hand observer of one the best Blue Devil women's teams in history.
Today, the 34-year-old McKinstry is head coach of the KCKCC women's program, succeeding 16-year coach Valerie Stambersky who stepped down in July to take a position in Warrensburg, Mo., where her husband is assistant baseball coach at Central Missouri University.
"I watched a lot of games so I'm very familiar with the players and the style of play they played last season," said McKinstry. "While it will all be new from a coaching point, having familiarity with the players and program is certainly a benefit. Obviously I'm very excited about this opportunity. My goal is to continue to build off the foundation built by Coach Stambersky and Coach (Alicia) Roth and continue to be one of the top teams in the Jayhawk Conference. "
McKinstry takes over a Blue Devil team that finished 24-8 and 28-4 the last two seasons. One of only two teams to defeat national champion Johnson County this past season, the Blue Devils tied for first in the Region VI final standings, tied for second in the Jayhawk and came within one win of a national tournament berth. Eight members of that team will return this season.
A 1999 graduate of Oak Park High School, McKinstry played four years of basketball at William Penn University in Oskaloosa, Iowa, while earning a degree in Physical Education. A point guard, McKinstry finished his four years of collegiate play as No. 5 on the all-time assist list and in the Top 10 in assists, steals and made 3-point shots.
McKinstry began his coaching career as a full-time assistant at William Penn after earning his degree. In his seven years as assistant, William Penn won two Midwest Collegiate Conference championships, qualified for the NAIA Division II national tournament four times and finished runnerup in 2013. He joined the KCKCC men's coaching staff last year as assistant to Kelley Newton and helped the Blue Devils finish 23-9.
While this will be McKinstry's first season as women's coach, he expects a smooth transition. "There are a few differences, basketball is basketball and my job as coach is to recognize what skills and talents each player brings and combine those talents to achieve a common goal of a winning program.
"I had a coach who believed in me and opened up opportunities to me and made me believe that I could achieve academically and athletically. My hope and what I aim for is to be that kind of coach. My eight years as an assistant coach have put me in position to take on the duties and responsibilities of a head coach. My whole reason for becoming a coach was to aspire to have my own program and to help young student athletes."
A veteran of eight seasons as an assistant coach including last year as men's assistant at Kansas City Kansas Community College, 34-year-old Joe McKinstry was announced Monday as the new women's head coach at KCKCC. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)