Associate Head Coach - Allison Pohlman
Allison Pohlman was promoted to associate head coach of the Drake University women’s basketball program by head coach Jennie Baranczyk in July of 2014.
“Allison exemplifies everything that we strive for in our program,” commented Baranczyk on the veteran assistant coach. “She is an exceptional teacher and recruiter. Allison values hard work, loyalty and loves Drake. She is such an integral part to the success of our program and we are lucky to have her here! This is a well-deserved promotion.”
After Baranczyk was named head coach in April of 2012, her first hire was retaining Pohlman from the previous coaching staff. Pohlman, who was a standout player at Northern Iowa, has been an assistant coach at Drake since the 2007-08 season.
As the Bulldogs recruiting coordinator, she was instrumental in the recruitment of Kyndal Clark, the 2014 Jackie Stiles Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year and Lizzy Wendell, the 2014 co-MVC Freshman of the Year.
Her primary responsibilities for the Bulldogs are serving as recruiting coordinator, tutoring the Drake guards and assisting with the preparation of opponent scouting reports.
No stranger to the Missouri Valley Conference, Pohlman joined the Bulldog staff in 2007 after spending seven seasons as a coach at Northern Iowa, including serving as the Panthers’ associate head coach during the 2006-07 campaign.
While at Northern Iowa, she was in charge of academic monitoring, summer camp operations, served as facility liason, and coached UNI’s perimeter players. She also aided in recruiting, scouting, fund-raising and public relations events in the community.
Pohlman began her coaching career as a graduate assistant at Northern Iowa during the 2000-01 campaign before being elevated to an assistant coach for the following season, a position she held until being promoted to associate head coach in 2006-07.
One of the best all-around players in Northern Iowa history, the former Allison Starr competed from 1996-2000 as the centerpiece in the rejuvenation of Panther basketball under retired head coach Tony DiCecco.
In 1997 she was named to the MVC’s All-Freshman team. Her final three years, she was named All-MVC first team and to The Valley’s All-Defensive Team.
Pohlman arguably had one of the finest single seasons in UNI history in 1999-2000, leading the Panthers in steals and assists while setting school records for points and rebounds in a season. A runner-up to Jackie Stiles for the league’s player of the year award, she was named The Valley’s defensive player of the year, as well.
Pohlman capped her career by ranking second in UNI history with 1,463 points, third with 711 rebounds, second with 274 steals, fifth with 278 assists and as the school record holder for free throws made, free throws attempted, offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, double-doubles and steals per game. Pohlman was inducted in the UNI Athletics Hall of Fame in the fall of 2011.
The Wellsburg, Iowa native and her husband, Kirk, have triplet daughters, Quinn, Rubie and Sidny. Pohlman holds a bachelor's of science in dietetics and a master's degree in Health Education from UNI.
Assistant Coach - Nicci Hays Fort
Nicci Hays Fort was hired as a Drake University women’s basketball assistant coach in July of 2016.
Hays Fort brings an impressive coaching background to the Bulldogs having been head coach at three different institutions, including most recently serving as the head coach of the Colgate University women’s basketball team for five seasons. She was also head coach of Division II Barry University and the United States Merchant Marine Academy, where she helped start the service academy’s program.
“We hit the jackpot with Nicci,” said Drake head coach Jennie Baranczyk. “She is an awesome person, who has coached at several levels and is going to be a great compliment to our entire coaching staff. We have known each other for many years and I have great respect for her as a coach. Our fans and team are going to love her and we’re blessed and lucky to have her part of our program.”
Hays Fort also served as associate head coach at DePaul University, where during her stint the Blue Demons made five NCAA Tournament appearances, including a run to the 2006 NCAA Sweet Sixteen. She was also as an assistant coach at Nicholls State University for two seasons. In total, Hays Fort has compiled 16 years of collegiate coaching experience.
Hays Fort was a two-sport student-athlete in basketball and softball at Truman State in Kirksville, Mo., before finishing her career at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Mo. She earned a bachelor of science degree in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Culver-Stockton.
Assistant Coach - Markisha Wright
Former Des Moines East High School and Notre Dame standout Markisha Wright is in her first season as an assistant women's basketball coach. She was promoted to the position in Sept., 2016.
Wright was hired as graduate team manager for the Drake women’s basketball program in Aug., 2015 and served in that role for the 2015-16 season.
Wright led East to a state title in 2011 and a second-place finish in 2010 before going to Notre Dame where she appeared in 138 career games, scoring 443 points and grabbing 353 rebounds. Wright played in four Final Fours and advanced to the championship game three times while a member of the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame compiled an impressive 143-10 record during Wright’s four seasons. Her East teams were also highly successful as the Scarlets went 87-10 in her four prep seasons.
Wright served as a team captain for the Fighting Irish as a senior and was named to the Atlantic Coast Conference Academic Honor Roll. She graduated in May 2015 from Notre Dame's College of Arts and Letters with a bachelor's degree in sociology. She is pursuing a master’s degree in leadership development at Drake.
Coordinator of Basketball Operations - Carly Grenfell
Former four-year letterwinner Carly Grenfell returned to the Drake University women’s basketball program as the new coordinator of basketball operations in Dec., 2016.
“I am ecstatic to welcome Carly back,” Drake head coach Jennie Baranczyk said. “Her return is a testament to the way our alums feel about our program and Drake. She brings great energy, passion and bleeds blue. I am excited to work with her and we will make each other better.”
Grenfell appeared in 133 career games for Drake from 2010-15. She played in six games during the 2010-11 season before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Grenfell returned from the injury and played in 126 games over the next four seasons. She was one of Drake’s top shooters during her career with 144 three-pointers made. Grenfell was awarded the prestigious Missouri Valley Conference Service and Leadership award as a junior and was a four-time selection to the MVC Academic Honor Roll.
Grenfell graduated from Drake with a bachelor’s degree in business management with a public relations major in Dec., 2014. In May, 2017, she will receive her master’s degree in communication studies from Northern Arizona University where she worked as a graduate assistant in the NAU athletics communications department for three semesters. She served as the primary communications contact for the Lumberjacks’ women’s soccer and men’s and women’s tennis programs while assisting with duties for the department’s other programs and serving as a broadcaster for NAU women’s basketball games. Grenfell interned with the social media department of the LPGA in the summer of 2016.
“When opportunity knocks, there are certain times you just know you have to answer, and the chance to come back to Drake was definitely one of those times for me,” Grenfell said. “I am extremely excited to give back to the people who made my student-athlete experience such a special one. I hope my love and passion for this university and program makes a difference for them as they so graciously did for me. I am excited to work with our student-athletes and help make their experience here as special.”
Graduate Manager - Angel Robinson
Former Marquette and WNBA first round selection Angel Robinson was hired as the the women's basketball graduate assistant manager in Sept, 2016.
Robinson played four seasons for Marquette, where Drake head coach Jennie Baranczyk was an assistant coach for four seasons. She appeared in 134 career games and started in all but two games of her career, including the last 105 straight. A three-time All-BIG EAST selection, Robinson is the only player in program history to amass more than 1,500 points, 500 rebounds, 500 assists and 250 steals in a career.
“Angel is the first former player I have coached to be on our coaching staff and has played at a high-level every part of her playing career,” Baranczyk said. “She brings a contagious spirit, a high-level of energy and a love for the game.”
A native of St. Paul, Minn., Robinson was the No. 22 draft pick in the 2011 WNBA draft by the New York Liberty before having her rights traded to the Minnesota Lynx. She was with the Lynx for training camp before being released. Following her release, Robinson embarked on a four-year playing career in several European countries.
"I am very excited for this amazing opportunity to join the Drake women's basketball program,” Robinson said. “Basketball has been my life for so many years and I appreciate Jennie who I have known for many years as a former player of her's at Marquette for this opportunity. We always had a good relationship on-and-off the court and both share a passion for the game. I am very thankful to be at Drake and look forward to helping the staff and student-athletes continue their success."