One of the best shots in Nebraska Kearney women’s basketball history was made by a man.
In 2015, Devin Eighmey accepted an assistant coaching job with the men’s program at Nebraska Kearney. Three days later on March 31, Carrie Hofstetter was announced as the next head coach of the school’s women’s team.
“First time I saw her in the gym,” Devin said. “I know it’s weird, but I tell people, I think you know when you know.”
Carrie was working with Brandon Rohr, a prospective hire for one of her assistant positions who happened to be a good friend of Devin’s. Naturally, he used this to his advantage.
Devin approached the head coach and recommended Rohr, saying he had heard good things about him, but playing it off to seem as though he didn’t know him as well as he did. It worked, and once Rohr was hired, Devin had his inside man.
“We were coaching the men’s and the women’s teams separately, but we spent a lot of time in the same gym and saw each other often,” Carrie said about Devin. “He started stopping by my office and asking questions about coaching, and I was very unassuming in realizing that he was actually just trying to get to know me better as a person.”
That’s where Rohr came in. He would feed Devin information on when she was around and helped orchestrate their first non-professional encounter.
With Devin and Carrie’s birthdays only three days apart, it was the perfect ploy to get them together away from the office.
“Brandon was my in with Carrie a lot of times,” Devin explained. “He was the one who got her to come out to the so-called birthday date with the two staffs, but it was actually an opportunity for me to speak with her outside of the work setting. I do remember my boss at the time always saying, ‘You’re crazy, this could go a lot of different ways for you,’ because Carrie was unassuming. Me, I think I was probably more in love right away than she was.”
The UNK coaches met at Cunningham’s, the hottest pub in town, and Devin zeroed in on his target. In the more relaxed atmosphere, the two began talking, losing themselves in conversation so long that their co-workers began to file out.
“I asked her, ‘Would you want to go on a date with me?’” Devin remembered. “At that point, we had talked for so long that night that everybody had left, and she said, ‘Aren’t we kind of on a date?’ And then it went from there.”
It still took more work to earn those dates, Devin said. It was an uphill climb for another few months, but nothing he couldn’t handle.
“I think I had to be the one who convinced her more than her convincing me,” he said.
The two began dating and before the end of the 2015-16 season, the two were engaged. On Sept. 3, 2016, they made it official.
Looking back, Carrie now sees what Devin was doing all along. She said a combination of her focus on her new job and naiveté led to the confusion.
“I didn’t come to Kearney with the idea of, I’m going to meet my future husband in the first months I was there,” Carrie explained. “The other part of it was I was very unassuming and didn’t realize he was coming to my office to basically get to know me better and feel out my interest level. It’s funny now that I look back on it. He would show up about 5 o’clock, 5:30, regularly. I’m thinking like, ‘I’d like to go home at some point tonight, make recruiting calls and do all the things I needed to do.’”
But she preferred to be polite rather than tell the new guy to scram.
“I was trying to be nice and help the young guy who was trying to grow in his coaching career,” she said. “Little did I know he was trying to recruit me. He’s a very good recruiter. Probably one of the best recruiters I’ve ever known, so it’s funny he used his recruiting tactics on me.”
Although she is a willing participant, Carrie can’t help but feel a little hoodwinked.
“To be honest, I felt like those two were constantly conspiring against me, because Devin helped Brandon get my assistant job, and then Brandon helped Devin recruit me to marry him,” she explained. “I feel like I was duped in the whole situation.”
This is the first installment in our series on the Eighmey family. In 2016, Devin switched from the men’s program to the women’s in lieu of his relationship with Carrie. The next article will explain the dynamics of their relationship as coaches on the same staff who happen to be married, the role it plays in the program and what they have learned through this journey.