By Rich Palzewic
GREEN BAY – Transitioning from a player on the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB) women’s basketball team just a short time ago, Megan Pingel is now getting her chance at a different role with the team — as an assistant coach.
The university recently announced the hiring of Pingel, a 2022 UWGB graduate.
“The opportunity humbles me — I know (UWGB) took a chance on me,” Pingel, who played guard for the Phoenix from 2016-22, said. “I’m thankful to be back in a different capacity under coaches I admire and respect, for players I care for and a program I care deeply about. Being a part of this community again means a ton to me.”
Pingel will be under the tutelage of head coach Kevin Borseth.
“Coach Borseth is amazing — he’s entertaining, hilarious and cares about all the players,” Pingel said. “He takes his players in as his own, even after you leave the program. He’s like family to me.”
Borseth said he’s also excited to have Pingel join the staff.
“Meghan’s familiarity with our program should make for a smooth transition into her new role,” he said. “She understands what it takes to be successful as a student-athlete, both on and off the floor. Meghan will be a great resource for our younger team members.”
Pingel said she’s confident she’ll find her voice and coaching style.
“I have to find the best way to connect with the players,” she said. “It will be a bit of a different world for me (coaching under Borseth). As a player, you don’t see everything behind the scenes. There’s a lot of effort that goes into that I never saw as a player. It’s given me a deeper appreciation of the coaches.”
Not having any previous college coaching experience, Pingel said she has previously coached AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) basketball in the summer months.
“Like I said, I know Green Bay is giving me a great opportunity – I don’t take it for granted,” she said.
During her UWGB career, Pingel, who also shined at track and field at Lakeside Lutheran High School before her Phoenix days, shot 35.7% from the field while racking up 340 assists and 277 rebounds.
During her final season in Green Bay, she recorded a career-high 22 points versus North Dakota State.
Pingel was on the 2017-18 team that won the Horizon League regular season and Tournament Championship, advancing to the First Round of the NCAA Tournament.
“Playing at UWGB was one of the best experiences of my life,” Pingel said. “I’ve stayed in contact with many of the players and coaches over the years — that tells you the type of people they are.”
Life after Green Bay
After graduating from UWGB in 2022, Pingel kept her dream of playing basketball alive by traveling overseas to Ireland for a few months.
“It was a fun experience, but I found my body wasn’t holding up as well as I wanted it to,” she said. “Being close to family is also important to me.”
After returning from Ireland, Pingel said she moved back home to the Sun Prairie area before moving to Omaha, Nebraska, after the New Year.
“I was working in a foster care ministry,” she said. “That’s what I was doing until I got the call from UWGB.”
Green Bay currently has eight players on the roster who were teammates with Pingel during the 2021-22 season, her final season as a player.
“That is true,” she laughed. “That was the first thing I brought up with coach when we were talking about this opportunity — ‘I played with more than half of these girls, and that could be a point of contention.’”
Pingel said during her senior season at UWGB, she lived off-campus with people not on the basketball team — something she was used to.
“Having the respect of the girls is a big thing,” she said. “Our relationship is in a good spot where I can give them direction and suggestions and they can take those and use them. It’s a relationship we have to be aware of moving forward so good boundaries are in place. I don’t see any issues arising.”
The Phoenix open the 2023-24 campaign with an exhibition game on Wednesday, Oct. 25, at 7 p.m. against UW-Stout at the Kress Center.