Kayla Slovenec becomes state’s 1st female assistant coach for a men’s college basketball team

MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida woman made history as the first female in the state to become an assistant coach for a men’s college basketball team.

Kayla Slovenec is only one of three women to be an assistant coach for any men’s college basketball team.

“I want to let the guys know that I’ve had the experience,” said Slovenec. “I grew up playing the past 15 years, so I’m a player at heart, just like them.”

She was recently added to the Bobcats men’s coaching staff.

“I know that she’s competitive, like when we’re doing the drills, I know that she always brings an edge to it,” said St. Thomas forward Kheron Millwood.

Slovenec once led St. Vincent College, which is one of the top Divison 3 women programs in the country.

At the time, head coach D.P. Harris was a men’s coach at St. Vincent.

“She’s a player. She’s got a great jump shot. She knows the game,” said Harris, head coach at St. Thomas. “She comes to work every day, diligent about her work. I don’t want our guys to be different with her.”

The 22-year-old doesn’t want to be treated any different anywhere with the players.

“I want to be looked at as an equal, you know?” Slovenec said. “Nothing inappropriate has been brought up, but like as far as maybe locker room talk and that kind of thing, like I want to hear it.”

Coach Harris isn’t worried about Slovenec hearing it from opposing fans because she’s a woman courtside coaching men.

“My dad was a truck driver, and Kayla’s dad was a truck driver,” said Harris, “and we come from a blue-collar family. We know what it is to be in that tough fabric of where America is built. We have pretty thick skin.”

Slovenec can pave the way for other women to coach men’s sports at St. Thomas.

“If I have two people that are of equal talent, but I have an opportunity to hire, whether it’s a minority, or a female or somebody different, I’m willing to do that,” said St. Thomas University President David Armstrong.

“It’s so important to celebrate women in a male’s game because it just promotes more women having this opportunity,” Slovenec said.

Slovenec will be courtside for the first time helping the men’s Bobcat team Nov. 7 when St. Thomas University is set to start the season at home against Florida National University.

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