Williams rounds out women’s basketball staff for 2017-18 season

Justin Michael

After losing a pair of assistant coaches during the offseason, Colorado State women’s basketball head coach Ryun Williams announced that he has officially finalized his coaching staff for the 2017-18 season. Carissa Thielbar and Amanda Cunningham will serve as assistant coaches, while Brooke Butkovsky will take over the position of director of player development.

Thielbar joins the CSU staff with eight years of coaching experience to her name. Most recently, she spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA.


With the help of Thielbar, the Bison finished the 2016-17 season with a program-best record of 27-6. The Bison either shared or won the Patriot League outright in both of her seasons with the team and combined to go 52-14 during that span.

“When we began our national search, we looked hard to find the people that could continue what we’ve built here,” Williams said in a release. “With our hire of Carissa, we’re bringing in someone who has won at every stop and has built a reputation as a top recruiter. She’ll move us forward from a tactical standpoint and from a personnel standpoint.”

Cunningham is entering her second year with the program and will now serve as an assistant coach after working as the Rams’ video coordinator last season. 

Colorado State University’s Hannah Tvrdy (10) blocks a shot by a Utah State forward during the women’s basketball game against Utah State on Saturday at Moby Arena. The Rams beat the visiting Utah State Aggies 74-43. (Forrest Czarnecki | Collegian)

Prior to her coaching career, Cunningham was a two-sport athlete at the University of South Dakota, competing in basketball and track. While at USD, Cunningham played for Williams and current CSU director of women’s basketball administration Chad Lavin.

She was a member of USD’s 2008 squad that finished as the Division II national runner-up, and was a part of the program’s transition to Division I basketball. Following her collegiate career, Cunningham played professionally overseas for five seasons, including four years in Australia and one in Germany.

Finally, Butkovsky enters her first season on the Colorado State women’s basketball staff in 2017-18 as the Rams’ as the newly-created director of player development.

In two seasons as an assistant coach at Clarkson, the Golden Knights combined to go 38-17, including a 23-9 mark in conference play. Clarkson reached the NCAA Tournament in her first season on the coaching staff, the first appearance for the Golden Knights in 27 seasons.

Butkovsky has also worked in a marketing and promotions role for the Bridgeport Bluefish baseball team, where she worked side by side with the team’s front office to organize sponsorships, advertising and improve the game day experience.

“With Brooke (Butkovsky), we’re adding someone that was successful as a player and a coach and knows the game,” Williams said. “We’re excited to have her skillset in the video area, and to have her help build the brand of CSU women’s basketball. Amber’s basketball mind will be an asset to us in her new role. It was an easy decision to elevate her.”

Collegian sports director Justin Michael can be reached by email at jmichael@collegian.com or Twitter @JustinTMichael.