For Kiara Kudron, there’s nothing like basketball at Gonzaga University. And as the Zags gear up for another season, Kudron is making her return to the court this time as GU women’s basketball video coordinator.
In making her return as a staff member, Kudron said she is mindful of her past, focusing on the future as she endeavors to make her name in different way on a new chapter of GU basketball.
If her past with the program proves to be any indication, GU basketball has been well served by Kudron’s contributions to the program as a player.
“She was a really hard worker — a really great leader, with zero issues both on and off the court,” said Lisa Fortier, head coach of the women’s basketball team. “She really applied her entire effort during her five years here.”
With an all-around impressive stat sheet for her senior year, Kudron finished her career at GU ranked No. 11 all-time in rebounds, as well as being named to the D1-AAA Scholar athlete and the WCC all-conference and all-tournament teams.
Still committed to the game, Kudron said she was ready to bring her talent and work ethic to the next level of basketball as her time on the court for GU came to an end.
“I always knew that I wanted to play at the professional level,” Kudron said “Overseas, there are so many opportunities to play quality basketball at multiple levels.”
Carrying this skillset to Europe was a fresh challenge, one which provided her the opportunity to gain experience in a completely different arena.
Kudron’s travels to Europe for basketball brought her to uncharted territory on the court, but she acclimated quickly to the unique environment.
Despite her competing as an international player, Kudron never lost track of her Zag spirit, keeping regular contact with Fortier regarding a position on the staff.
“Ever since I graduated, I’ve been in touch with Lisa and Craig,” Kudron said, “If there was ever an opportunity for me to come back, I’d wanted to be a part of the staff. Not that I was ready out of college because I knew that I’d wanted to play at a higher level — but just kind of keeping that on their radar.”
With the opening of a team videographer position, Kudron was granted an opportunity to return to her roots at the GU basketball program.
Kudron emphasized that making the switch from being on the court to analyzing the game from a different perspective presented a challenge. However, she expressed determination, ready to rise up to meet the process head-on.
The added difficulties of a pandemic created uncertainty within collegiate athletics around the nation, and GU is no exception. However, Kudron is optimistic about the future, pointing to silver linings within new health and safety procedures.
“Since the COVID-19 pandemic disallowed practice teams, I’ve been allowed to do some rebounding and passing for the players, which has been great,” Kudron said.
Moving forward with a staffing position, it’s difficult to integrate into the fabric of the system and make a connection with the team. Luckily, Kudron has some experience.
She indicated her past connection with staff such as Fortier — an assistant coach when Kudron was playing — and assistant coach Craig Fortier was greatly beneficial in smoothing the transition from player to staff.
“[Lisa] and I had this really good connection, with assistant coaches those are the people you go to talk about personal problems, basketball problems, whatever,” Kudron said. “Craig was my post coach, we were very close, I just really held onto those connections.”
As GU women’s basketball video coordinator, Kudron will be able to apply her on-the-court experience to breakdown film, highlight key mechanics and even create recruiting projects to attract future players.
As Kudron prepares to return to GU basketball, she will also have the advantage of her perspective.
Primarily, she understands the student-athlete mentality. Fortier said the most crucial part is that Kudron has been through the GU program so she’s able to lend that experience to current players.
“She was coached by us, she was here, she’s an alum,” Fortier said. “She bleeds the program, so I think that’s just a different dynamic for the players, and she is certainly going to be a great person for them.”
Fortier, along with other coaching staff, are familiar with Kudron’s skills and personality. They expect that she will shine brightly, bringing her passion for the sport, the team and the community with her.
And although it has only been a short time since Kudron made her return, Fortier said, her hard work, intelligence and fast learning has already been a valuable addition.
In just the few weeks she has been here, Fortier underscored that Kudron was progressing quickly and proving to be an excellent choice to include on the staff.
Kudron said it’s just great to be back. In recounting her experiences as a player, she highlighted how GU basketball, and GU in general, are extraordinary places to be, and how special it is for her to once again be a Zag.
“I loved the girls, the coaching staff and Spokane,” Kudron said. “Every time I came out of the locker room through the tunnel, I got chills. I’m sure being on the other side, on the staff, it’s going to be a little different, but I just keep thinking about how there’s really nothing like it.”