The Iowa Energy have hired Nicki Gross as an assistant coach, making her the only female coach in the NBA D-League, the team announced Thursday.
Gross, 26, was a video coordinator with the Energy last season and worked as an assistant video coordinator with the D-League’s Bakersfield Jam the year before. She is being promoted to assistant coach and will be responsible mostly for scouting, according to The Des Moines Register.
Gross is a graduate of Seton Hall University in New Jersey, where she played on the soccer team and was a two-year captain. She ran track at Monmouth University as a graduate student and also served as a graduate manager for the Monmouth men’s basketball team.
Before joining the Jam in 2013, Gross was an intern at the 2013 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.
“It's something I've worked for, and I'm really excited for the opportunity,” Gross told the Register. “Pretty excited to get going and for the season to come up.”
Though Gross is the only woman hired to be on a D-League bench this season, the league does have a history of female coaches. Stephanie Ready was the league’s first female coach, working as an assistant with the Greenville Groove in 2001. Basketball Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman was the head coach of the Texas Legands in the 2009–10 season and still serves as the team’s assistant GM.
The NBA’s only female assistant is Becky Hammon, who led the San Antonio Spurs to this year’s Las Vegas Summer League championship while serving as the head coach.
Earlier this week, the Arizona Cardinals announced they had hired the NFL’s first ever female coach, Jen Welter.
The Energy play their games in Des Moines and are affiliated with the Memphis Grizzlies.
- Dan Gartland