CHICAGO (CBS) — Karen Stack Umlauf has been with the Bulls organization since Michael Jordan’s rookie season.
But now she has a more hands-on role with the team, after moving from the front office to the coaching staff. As CBS 2’s Megan Mawicke reports, the basketball junkie stacks up just fine with the men.
“I can’t tell you how fun it is. I wake up every day and look forward to coming to the office every day, or I should say onto the court,” said Bulls assistant coach Karen Stack Umlauf.
After three decades working for the Chicago Bulls in administrative roles, Karen Stack Umlauf’s new office is on the court. This season, she became the first female coach in Chicago Bulls history.
“I feel so privileged. The Bulls have been my life,” she said.
The majority of her time with the Bulls, Karen worked for Jerry Krause on the administrative side. Then in 2017, she lobbied Bulls head of basketball operations John Paxson to give her a shot at coaching. She now balances her role of director of team operations along with assistant coach.
“I think a lot of them (players) like having a female around. I am their mom’s age or a bit older. They realize in basketball it is no different male or female, maybe I add a little different dimension,” she said.
A mother of two teenage daughters, she played at Northwestern University, then a brief professional career. Her responsibilities are game preps, scouting games and working with assigned players at practice and before games.
“You never know the demands of it until you are in the middle of it and watching everyone. I thought I knew about basketball, but you really don’t know too much until you’re sitting in those meetings and seeing how prepared and how they’ve been doing it. I have a lot to learn,” said Stack Umlauf.
“If we can get away from female, male, whatever; she’s a basketball person. She’s a basketball coach with a big heart and a big IQ for basketball and the ability to teach,” said Bulls head coach Jim Boylen.
“My ultimate goal is first to be a really good assistant coach, and see what can happen from there,” Stack Umlauf said.