Kim Barnes Arico can't help but smile each morning on her way
Who could blame her? In nine seasons as Head Coach of the
St. John's Women's Basketball Team, she's amassed an impressive
record and led the program to one of the greatest turnarounds in
the history of college basketball.
For this Long Island native, the process has been a dream come
"Growing up in New
York, St. John's was the basketball school,” she said. “I
followed the program as a kid and I was in the stands for a lot of
games, cheering on Coach Carnesecca, Chris Mullin, Mark Jackson and
all the legends. So for me to be able to coach in New York and for
a university that I grew up following, that's been a phenomenal
In less than a decade, Barnes Arico has established herself as one
of the most outstanding coaches in St. John's history. After
inheriting a program that went 3-24 overall (0-16 in the BIG EAST)
in 2002, her hard-nosed work ethic and keen eye for recruiting
immediately made an impact. Her St. John’s record speaks for
itself: three NCAA Tournament appearances, three WNIT berths, eight
consecutive trips to the BIG EAST Tournament and four 20-win
“It's truly unbelievable to me,” she said. “If someone had looked
at the program 10 years ago, I don't think they would have believed
where we'd be today.”
The 2010-11 season was another exceptional one for the team,
racking up 22 wins and reaching the NCAA Tournament for the second
consecutive year. Though the Red Storm lost to top-seeded Stanford
in the second round of the tournament, Barnes Arico was impressed
with her team's overall performance and is excited to coach the
returning players. Phenomenal talents such as senior forward
Da'Shena Stevens and junior guard Shenneika Smith highlight next
"We've got a group
of young ladies who have now played in two NCAA tournaments, so
they've got experience under their belts,” Barnes Arico said. “They
know what it's like to travel on the road and compete in big games.
We had to play at Florida State and at Stanford, two of the
greatest arenas and two of the greatest programs in the country.
That's no small task. So the expectations are to take it one step
further than we did this past season, to keep that level of
consistency and continue to be a program that people talk about
year in and year out."
Her players have also been successful in the classroom, posting
solid grades and consistently performing community service. Barnes
Arico stresses academics and building character, and she was proud
to see both of her seniors from this past season graduate at the
Commencement Exercises in May.
“More than the Xs and Os, education is our main job,” she noted.
“The parents of these athletes are trusting me with four years of
their children’s lives. We have to help prepare them for the rest
of the world, not just basketball. At the end of the day, that’s
what it’s all about: sending great people out into the world who
will achieve great things with their St. John’s background.”
Off the court, Barnes Arico has found similar success with her
other full-time job: being a wife and mother of three. Her
husband and children cheer from the sidelines at nearly every St.
John’s game, and Barnes Arico credits the University's family
atmosphere with helping her juggle all of her various
"Taking care of both
my family and my obligations as a coach is the greatest challenge
for me,” she explained. “It's something that I would not be able to
do without the tremendous support of the people here at the
University as well as my family at home. My husband is terrific, my
mom is terrific and I always have someone with me on my
Without a doubt, Barnes Arico has ushered in a new era of St.
John's women's basketball, putting the program on the map with
consistent postseason success. As the Red Storm’s reputation has
skyrocketed, so too has the difficulty of its schedule. Success has
led to an increase in televised marquee matchups.
The 2011-12 season will be no exception: the squad will play the
outstanding Rutgers Scarlet Knights twice and will face the Baylor
Bears at Madison Square Garden as part of the Maggie Dixon Classic.
And the team will once again have to contend with its strongest BIG
EAST rival, the nearly unbeatable UConn Huskies.
It's a daunting schedule, but one that Barnes Arico is glad to
“We now have more opportunities to play these great teams,
sometimes even on national television,” she said. “But what makes
it all the more special is that I know these other teams are going
into the games having to really prepare for St. John's. And that's
exciting to know, for both myself and our players.”
The recent success of the men's team has made Barnes Arico even
more enthusiastic about next season and what it could mean for St.
John's. The atmosphere reminds her of those days when she'd sit in
the bleachers of Alumni Hall, rooting on Coach Carnesecca and his
"What I witnessed this past season is the same thing I witnessed
back in 1985," she said. "When I walk out of campus, step into New
York City and our surrounding areas, everyone is talking about St.
John's, Coach Lavin and the young men in his program. Our women are
on board with that; we want to be the face of St.John's as well.
When both programs can do it together, that's an amazing