Kim Barnes Arico has lead the women’s basketball team to a record-breaking season in points, assists, and field goals made. Learn more about the coach in this profile featured in the late fall 2012 issue of Michigan Alumnus magazine. Written by Amy Whitesall.
U-M women’s basketball coach Kim Barnes Arico could have spent her entire career at St. John’s. Ten years into her coaching tenure there, she was not just comfortable, but beloved. Her teams went to the NCAA tournament regularly, and in 2012 the Red Storm broke Connecticut’s 99-game home win streak.
She’d built a program where you could see her influence not only in how hard her players competed, but also in how quickly they sprinted to the bench to hug their coach after a big win. The school’s campus in Queens, New York, is about 60 miles from the town where Barnes Arico grew up, and even closer to the town where she was raising her own three kids. So when Michigan offered her a head coaching job, it wasn’t an easy decision.
“I would have only left for something incredibly special, and that something is the University of Michigan,” Barnes Arico said. “The commitment not only to basketball, but to all of our athletic programs, is second to none. Ann Arbor is an amazing community and a great place to raise my family.”
Watch women’s basketball prepare for UCLA on mgoblue.com.
Besides, comfort can be overrated.
Case in point, in 2011 Barnes Arico ran the ING New York City Marathon. She’d never really run a long distance before, and the timing was terrible—the race takes place during basketball season. Then she developed an injury that nearly stopped her training in its tracks.
But she didn’t quit. Her alarm would go off at 4:30 a.m. and she would roll out of bed, limp to the car, and drive to the acupuncturist. Treatment got her through the day’s training run. Then she’d go to work and summon the energy to run practice with the same fiery intensity as always, before heading home to turn her full attention to her family.
Hard? That’s an understatement. But this is the same woman who tells her players it’s all about the bounce-back, that the important thing—in basketball and in life—is how you react when things don’t go your way.
“I think it shows the young women I coach that I can also achieve something incredibly challenging,” she said. “I am asking them to do some tough things and be in the greatest shape of their lives, and I want them to know that I am committed to that as well. I want them to know that I still have the passion and drive to be the best I can be, but to also help them achieve their goals.”
With Sunday’s win over Southern Miss, Barnes Arico becomes the first women’s basketball coach to have three 20-win seasons. On April 1, the Wolverine’s will host UCLA in the WNIT semifinals.
In the meantime, she loves being a member of the Michigan family.
“I think one of the things I am most impressed with since I have been here at Michigan is the alumni base, and what it means to be a part of that group,” she said. “The pride and support that the alumni give to their University is first class. It is the best in the country, if not the best in the world.”