After edging out Purdue on the road in an overtime thriller on Sunday, the Ohio State women’s basketball team didn’t find its way back to Columbus until early Monday morning. A snowfall in West Lafayette, Ind., on Sunday evening forced the Buckeyes to make a 5 1/2 hour bus ride back to campus, rather than fly.
And that was just the start of a busy week of traveling for coach Kevin McGuff.
“This week we got home from Purdue at midnight, and Monday I flew to Florida, and today I flew back,” McGuff said before practice Tuesday afternoon. “Tomorrow, we will fly to Wisconsin and get back late on Thursday night, and then I will fly back to Florida on Friday and get back Saturday.”
This type of never-ending schedule is typical for coaches who lead big-time women’s college basketball programs. Many coaches, however, do not have six kids, like McGuff does.
“I couldn’t do it if I didn’t have an outstanding wife,” McGuff said. “My wife is awesome.”
McGuff met his wife, Letitia, while they were both on the coaching staff at Notre Dame in 1996. The pair were married in 2002 and have moved cities together on three separate occasions while raising their children.
“We met in coaching so she knows the rigors of this job,” he said. “She is a part of everything I do.”
Also in 2002, McGuff became the head coach at Xavier University in Cincinnati before moving the family out to Seattle so he could become the coach at the University of Washington in 2011. Just two years later, the McGuffs found themselves back in Ohio, but this time in Columbus.
The coach said he is happy to be back and feels Columbus is a great place to raise his kids, all six of which are between the ages of 21 months and 11 years old.
“I just thought it would be a better environment for our family where we can spend more time together,” he said.
Coaching at OSU has given McGuff the ability to be closer to his family throughout the work day, allowing him to help more with getting all the kids where they need to go.
“We are able to live a lot closer,” he said. “I am now able to spend more time at home then on the highway and in traffic and they can come over here a lot more.”
The McGuffs reside in Upper Arlington, which gives the coach a close commute to and from the Schottenstein Center and allows his kids to join him at work.
This has given McGuff the opportunity to focus equal energy on both his team and his family, even if that means combining the two.
“They come to practice and run around the gym,” McGuff said. “The players like it a lot.”
The family attends all OSU home games and travels with the team when the kids’ busy schedules allow for it.
With the family watching from home, OSU is set to play at Wisconsin on Thursday night. The Buckeyes have won two straight since losing to Minnesota on Jan. 15 and are looking to keep the momentum going as they head into the final stretch of the Big Ten season.
“It would be huge to string a couple together,” junior guard Cait Craft said. “In the past, we would win three or four games and then lose one or two.”
Craft, along with fellow junior guard Ameryst Alston, are the primary leaders on the young Buckeye team who are hoping to make their win at Purdue the start of a new chapter.
“We can be something special,” Craft said. “It has taken a while to come together and it has been frustrating at times, but when you are building a team like this, you are going to have those kind of rough patches that you just need to push through.”
With such a young team, Craft knows the Buckeyes are only just scratching the surface of their potential as a team. Freshman guard Kelsey Mitchell was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week for the fifth time this season and second time in a row following her 37-point outing at Purdue.
“I honestly don’t have words to describe her,” Craft said. “To me the most inspiring part about her is that even with all the talent she has, she is one of the hardest working people I know.”
With his family close by and his young team becoming better with each practice, McGuff couldn’t be happier.
“Its been fun,” McGuff said. “Columbus is a great place for our family.”
Tipoff against the Badgers is scheduled for 9 p.m.