KEARNEY, Neb. — The University of Nebraska-Kearney is working to build a family within its athletic department.

The Lopers new women’s basketball hire fits that goal quite literally. Drew Johnson takes over as the program’s new head coach and his wife, Nicole Ohlde-Johnson, will be his head assistant coach.

“We set out to find a leader to develop our players on and off the court," Athletic Director Marc Bauer said. "We found a coaching team that’s led by their character and faith and who value and understand the importance of family.”

The Johnsons replace Carrie Eighmey, who coincidentally worked with her husband Devin as an assistant coach.

Athletic Director Marc Bauer says the coach’s relationship isn’t a problem for UNK administration.

“It’s neat to me to see how a husband and wife can actually work together," Bauer said. "Really, it’s their family, right? The team is an extension of their family.”

The Johnsons come to Kearney after two seasons at conference foe Newman University in Wichita. They coached four seasons at NAIA Bethel College before that. They chose to come to UNK for two reasons: the standard of excellence.

“Excellence means in the classroom, it means on the court, it means as the athletic department as a whole,” Johnson said.

And the people. They were impressed by the school administration and the community.

“Being able to be in a tight-knit community to raise two sons is very appealing," Johnson said. "We’re excited to be able to do that and excited to be able to see them grow up in this place that really, really supports its people.”

The Johnsons bring with them deep knowledge of the Lopers roster, the conference, and the recruiting region - all of which drew Bauer to the duo.

They’re also bringing their motto: attack the day.

“It means that we’re going to make the most out of every opportunity. You’re going to wake up, you’re going to have an opportunity to attack your classes, attack your friendships, attack the court, attack your nutrition, attack the weight room and attack how much you care about people," Johnson said. "If you can approach each day with that kind of enthusiasm, we will all have the chance to be really, really successful.”

The Johnsons are already at work getting to know their players, building their staff and recruiting.

Ohlde-Johnson was an All-American basketball player at Kansas State and has her jersey number retired. She played seven seasons in the WNBA and won the 2009 league championship with the Phoenix Mercury.