TJ Otzelberger of Iowa State, his wife Alison Lacey’s basketball love story

Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in 2013, a few months before TJ Otzelberger and Alison Lacey tied the knot. the

ANKENY – They see each other early in the morning, then again late at night.

Unless we’re on the road for a game.

Or recruiting.

Then they could spend days before spending time together in the Ankeny townhouse they share.

Welcome to the world of two college basketball coaches – male and female – living under one roof.

Welcome to the world of TJ Otzelberger and Alison Lacey, a few months before their June 1 wedding.

The former Cyclone women’s basketball star, who is now the head coach of Marshalltown Community College, ties up with top assistant Fred Hoiberg. And after the ceremony, a free throw competition may well break out – the reception will take place (of course) at a track club.

“There won’t be a basketball theme,” Lacey promised during a rare night out at home with her future husband. “It would be eagerly awaited – very cookie-cutter.”

Unless, of course, the DJ performs the Iowa state fight song for the newlyweds’ usual first dance.

“Everyone who was at the wedding party coached basketball or played basketball with me,” Lacey said, “and her friends all played basketball.

“They really are a basketball group, so much so that I don’t want to have the announcement as we walk into the reception.”

Basketball is their life, however. Until the delayed honeymoon in Hawaii.


“Recruitment,” TJ said.

Lacey’s parents will be in town from their home in Australia, so the couple want to hang out with them. And then there are potential stars to assess.

Then the honeymoon.

“I heard there are a lot of good players in Hawaii,” said Otzelberger.

His side of the story

Basketball is their life, until the day they met.

Lacey ended her career at Iowa State in 2010, as did star Craig Brackins on the men’s side.

They knew each other. However, Alison did not know the coach who recruited her.

“Not a clue,” Lacey said, glancing at Otzelberger during a basketball-themed family room interview.

Following:Back on Alison Lacey’s 3 points against Michigan State which sent Iowa State to Elite Eight

They arrived on campus in 2006, Lacey from Ballard of Huxley High School, where the Australian was an overseas student, and Otzelberger from training at Chipola College in Marianna, Florida.

They didn’t speak, however, until Lacey said goodbye to Brackins.

“I don’t even remember having a conversation with him,” Lacey said, “and he didn’t know who I was. I just knew he was a coach.”

Brackins was their common denominator, their unsuspecting cupid.

“I knew Craig from basketball and TJ recruited Craig,” Lacey said. “Thanks to Craig, we have met.”

His side of the story

This is Lacey’s story. Otzelberger puts it this way:

“I saw women’s games when she was playing in college, but it wasn’t like I was watching her play,” Otzelberger said. “I don’t even remember her as a player in college.”

Something happened, however, after their first conversation the day Lacey left for the WNBA. Love at first sight?

“I don’t know about it, but we kept in touch,” Otzelberger said.

They texted and then finally had their first date after Lacey returned to Ames after the 2010 WNBA Draft.

“I asked her out when I met her coming out of the (training) facility after she was training on a Friday afternoon,” Otzelberger recalls.

They went to dinner at Ames’ cafe. They went to the movies.

“It was so weird how it all happened,” Lacey said. “It was a weird way to meet and then go out.”



This is nothing compared to Otzelberger’s proposal.

“We were in Australia last May for him to meet my family,” Lacey said. “We hung out at my parents’ house, but he still wanted to go back to the hotel.”

Otzelberger is a strategist – on and off the pitch. He had a plan.

“Alison didn’t want to leave the house, but I finally convinced her we had to go – that we have a tight schedule,” Otzelberger said.

Instead of driving to the hotel, they pulled up to a lake side that surrounded a downtown residential development.

“He said he wanted to look at a development – apartments under construction,” Lacey said. “There was the biggest full moon in 10 years, they said. It was beautiful.”

They walked around the lake, Alison faster than TJ

“I walked in front of him because I was cold and wanted to get back to the car,” she said. “I finally turned to see how far back he was.”

He wasn’t far.

He was on his knees.

Otzelberger-the-romantic did the old-school thing, however. He asked for permission first.

“Alison’s dad and I went to lunch earlier today, where I asked for her hand in marriage,” Otzelberger said. “So he knew.

“I exposed the side that we try not to show in training every day.”

From 2017: South Dakota State Jackrabbits head coach TJ Otzelberger poses with wife Alison Otzelberger, son Jayce Otzelberger and daughter Olivia Otzelberger after the game against the Mavericks in Omaha at the Summit League Conference Tournament at the Denny Sanford Premier Center on March 7, 2017, in Sioux Falls, SD

Q&A: In their own words (from 2013)


Laced: “Not much during the season.”

Otzelberger: “We both come home between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., depending on the day, and we’re both mentally and emotionally exhausted from the training. pretty much everything. “


Laced: “Me mostly, but TJ cooks a bit too. He’s doing a lot better than before. If I’ve had a really bad day in training and just had it, then I won’t cook. But I try. cook at least four times a week, maybe cook once.

Otzelberger: “I’m good with burgers – I make sloppy joes. It’s my favorite. I can also make pasta and spaghetti.”


Otzelberger: “She likes the details of the table placement, the jewelry the bridesmaids are going to wear, the cake – that stuff is off my radar. The rehearsal dinner I attended. I went to the high school with a photographer and a DJ so it wasn’t too difficult. I think I was involved in the planning of the wedding – quite involved. “


Laced: “He’s definitely helping me, but I don’t know if I’ve helped him yet. He’s helped me a lot, especially as a first-year head coach. When we watch basketball games together, I bounce back. on him.”


Otzelberger: “In the past, I have told parents that basketball is my 24/7 life. I will answer their call any time of the day. I tell them that I will be there for you. your son. That’s always been my pitch, now I’m going to have to change it up a bit – for the family guy and that sort of thing. “


Laced: “He would never let me win. He will do everything in his power not to lose. He’s stronger. He makes a lot of mistakes. I wouldn’t win.”


Laced: “I’m probably more guilty of being cranky or cranky if we’ve had a bad practice or we’re losing. Be careful if we’ve both had a bad practice or we’re both losing. We’re so invested in it emotionally. . He just goes down to his man cave and watches basketball on TV. I stay upstairs and watch my reality shows and make some space. “

Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson began his 50th year of sports writing for the Des Moines Register in December 2021. Contact him at [email protected], 515-284-8132, and on Twitter at @RandyPete.

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