Follow Coach Mimnaugh on Twitter: @FaithMimnaugh
Faith Mimnaugh enters her 23rd season as head coach of the Cal Poly women’s basketball program having led the Mustangs to either the NCAA Tournament or the WNIT four times since 2011.
In 2019, Cal Poly point guard Dye Stahley became only the second woman in the 35-year history of the Big West to lead the conference in both assists and steals in the same year, on the way to winning her second consecutive Big West Best Hustle Award (the ninth instance since 2001 in which one of Mimnaugh’s players was recognized for their effort).
Mimnaugh has coached Cal Poly to a 108-70 record in conference play since 2009 — No. 2 in the Big West in that time span — including a 2017-18 season which saw the Mustangs finish second in the Big West standings at 11-5 (earning a semifinals appearance at the conference tournament) while going 17-12 overall.
As the 2018 Mustangs secured a double-bye to the Honda Center in Anaheim, Dynn Leaupepe averaged 20.7 points per game to rank No. 20 nationally in scoring. College Sports Madness’ National Mid-Major Player of the Week on Jan. 8, 2018, Dynn graduated No. 3 in school history for career scoring (1,636 points), while her twin sister, Lynn Leaupepe, graduated as the No. 5 all-time rebounder (673).
Both Leaupepe twins have gone on to successful pro careers overseas, with Dynn honored as the 2019 Dameligaen Player of the Year as a rookie for BK Amager (Kastrup, Denmark) prior to signing with Spanish LF2 club BAXI Ferrol; while Lynn signed with Ausarta Barakaldo in Spain in 2019 after winning the Big V (Victoria, Australia) Youth Player of the Year accolade in her debut for the Sunbury Jets.
In 2015, Mimnaugh guided Cal Poly to its seventh-consecutive year finishing in at least the Top 3 of the Big West standings. The season also was highlighted by seniors Kristen Alé, Ariana Elegado and Taryn Garza all earning spots on the all-conference team. Elegado was chosen as one of 30 Senior CLASS Award candidates across the country, belonging to a group including selections from Baylor, UConn, Duke, Stanford and Tennessee, while Alé went on to play for the American Samoa National Team.
A year earlier, the Mustangs reached the Conference Tournament Championship Game for the fourth time in a six-year span. While averaging a double-double (16.9 points & 10.1 rebounds), senior center Molly Schlemer earned her second consecutive all-conference first-team status.
In 2013, Schlemer was named a FullCourt mid-major All-America honorable mention after finishing 10th in the country in field-goal percentage (54.2) while also being selected as the Conference Player of the Year and Big West Tournament MVP.
After defeating Pacific in the 2013 Big West Tournament Championship, Cal Poly advanced to the NCAA Tournament where the Mustangs took on No. 3 seed Penn State in the first round at LSU.
During the previous season, the Mustangs won their second regular-season conference title in a row.
Senior forward Kristina Santiago was fifth in the country in scoring for 2011-12 at 23.4 points per game, along with 9.9 rebounds while becoming Cal Poly’s all-time leading scorer (1,953) and rebounder (851). Santiago, who earned an AP All-American honorable mention, became a professional star overseas, winning three straight Bulgarian playoff MVP awards as her club, Dunav 8806, won a three-peat of NBL championships from 2013-15.
Also in 2012, point guard Jonae Ervin etched her name into the NCAA record book by tying to lead the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio, at 2.67.
A year earlier in 2010-11, Mimnaugh was honored with her second Big West Coach of the Year award after the Mustangs finished in first place.
Cal Poly ranked 10th in the nation in 3-point shooting that season, led by Rachel Clancy, a guard who not only earned the Big West Player of the Year award but also was a third-team Academic All-American. Clancy went on to play professionally for Real Canoe Natación in Spain.
Just as Clancy and Santiago before her, Schlemer also has excelled professionally in Europe. Combined for her career, Schlemer was awarded EuroBasket Player of the Week awards on five separate occasions between the German DBBL & Turkish TKBL, including most recently for Feb. 14, 2019 with İstanbulgücü.
Since 2015, the Mustangs have made 13 appearances on WatchESPN and have played in front of four of the five largest home crowds in program history, each between 1,839 and 2,047 fans, part of a 104-47 Cal Poly performance at home (.689) since 2008.
Altogether, Mimnaugh has seen her players named to the all-conference team 47 times, plus 10 all-freshman team honors, 11 all-tournament selections and 46 player-of-the-week accolades heading into 2020.
Off the court, Mimnaugh’s players have earned All-Academic honors from the conference 51 times, while Cal Poly women’s basketball achieved 100-percent Graduation Rates in both 2017 and 2018.
Additionally, Mary Kate Evans was named the overall Cal Poly Women’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year in both 2017 & 2018. Evans (a grad in BioMedical Engineering) was selected for Academic All-District Second-Team honors in February 2018, making her one of 12 student-athletes representing the 46 Division I universities throughout California, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah and Hawai’i.
A four-year All-Mid-Suburban League and three-time all-area selection at Elk Grove High School in Illinois, Mimnaugh (1977-81) assisted the Grenadiers to the 1981 Class AA state championship. Selected to the 1981 all-state team, she helped Elk Grove compile an 84-22 mark during her four-year prep career.
Mimnaugh played collegiately at Loyola Chicago (1981-85) and remains the Ramblers’ career assists leader (1,000).
The 316 assists Mimnaugh handed out during her 1984-85 senior season not only led the nation, but are still the 11th-highest single-season total in NCAA Division I history. Her 11.7 per-game figure as a senior remains the second-best average in Division I history.
Mimnaugh — inducted into the Loyola Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2007 — began her professional career with the Newcastle (Australia) Scorpions, serving as a guard and player-coach from 1987-89.
She was then an assistant coach at North Carolina State from 1989-93. While with the Wolfpack, she oversaw the operation of a program that reached as high as No. 2 in the national polls.
While working under legendary head coach Kay Yow (the 1988 U.S. Olympic coach), Mimnaugh helped propel the team to the 1990 ACC title and the 1991 ACC Tournament championship.
Mimnaugh earned her master’s degree in sports administration from N.C. State in 1994.
The University of Evansville named Mimnaugh its head coach in 1993. She led the Purple Aces in their move from the Midwestern Collegiate Conference up to the Missouri Valley Conference. Mimnaugh came to San Luis Obispo to serve as Karen Booker’s top assistant in 1996-97. Aside from her coaching duties at the time, she spearheaded the Mustangs’ weight-training program and assisted with recruiting.
Mimnaugh is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, credentialed through the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and is also a member of the U.S. Weightlifting Federation.
Mimnaugh, who competed with Athletes in Action in 1985, is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.