SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Valerie Huizar has been selected as the Head Coach of the LSU Shreveport Lady Pilots basketball team, Athletic Director Chad McDowell announced today. Huizar returns to lead the program for which she played two of her collegiate seasons, as well as having served for one year as a Graduate Assistant Coach to former coach, Ronnie Howell.
"This is very surreal for me right now," commented Huizar. "I have made so many lifelong friendships at this University, and had great support from the LSUS community behind me even after graduation and starting my coaching career. The opportunity to come back and offer the same amazing experience I had to future Lady Pilots is a dream come true. To have the chance to give back to this program is something I will not take lightly, and cannot wait to see how we can build on such a great foundation Coach Howell has created."
Huizar has spent the past two years as an Assistant Coach in her hometown of San Antonio, Texas, at Our Lady of the Lake University where she helped to guide the Lady Saints to an overall record of 57-9, including two Red River Athletic Conference Championships and back-to-back trips to the NAIA National Tournament.
"Coach Huizar is absolutely the right person to lead our women's basketball program and we are fortunate to have her back at LSUS," commented Athletic Director Chad McDowell. "She has so much to offer the ladies who will play under her direction. She is a class act and epitomizes the five core values of the NAIA's Champions of Character Program: Respect, Responsibility, Sportsmanship, Servant-Leadership, and Integrity. Coach Huizar has been a part of winning programs, including her time here at LSUS as point guard for the Lady Pilots, and knows what it takes to be successful. She is a student of the game and a tireless worker. She is excited about the opportunity to be a basketball head coach but even more excited about teaching young ladies how to be champions in life."
In her return trips to The Dock as an opposing coach, Huizar stated that the thought of leading the LSU program did not really cross her mind. "I'm the type of person who focuses on the task at hand and being the best that I can be in that moment. So to be quite honest, in those games returning to The Dock, I was just trying to coach our team to play hard and beat my alma mater as badly as we could! OLLU and LSUS have had some great battles against each other, including when I was a player. There's a mutual respect between the programs and both teams give it their all each time time they meet. I've always dreamed of being a head coach at the collegiate level, but doing so at my alma mater is beyond anything I've ever dreamed of."
Huizar will take over the clipboard from the man who helped to put LSUS women's basketball back on the map in the NAIA since the return of the team in 2003. Coach Howell spent 11 seasons at the helm of the Lady Pilots while compiling an overall record of 194-137 and having a major impact on the woman who will now take over as his replacement.
"Coach Howell did a fantastic job starting this program from scratch and turning it into a nationally-ranked team which annually contended for conference championships each," stated Huizar, who emphasized how much she has learned from her former coach. "In terms of X's and O's, he has taught me a great deal about the game but what has always resonated with me was the way he pushed his players to be their best every single day. He saw the potential in his players and continued to coach us hard until the very last game. It didn't matter whether you were the leading scorer or were the last player off the bench. He coached us all the same. I've always appreciated that as a player and I continue to coach my teams that way. It may be hard to understand as a player, but that unrelenting toughness is what molded me into the player I was as well as the coach that I am today."
Coach Huizar's debut as the Lady Pilots Head Coach will be in a home game on November 15, 2014 in the Lady Pilot Classic. There are more than a handful of people who are excited about the new era of Lady Pilot's basketball that will be led by Coach Valerie Huizar.
"Women's athletics at LSUS is fortunate to have landed not only an outstanding women's basketball coach but also an exceptional leader and dedicated student/athlete mentor in Coach Valerie Huizar. The lives of the young women who will have the opportunity to play under Coach Huizar will be positively impacted on the court and off the court. She is the best of the best."
- Dr. Cay Evans – Professor and Director of Graduate Programs, Department of Education, LSUS
"As a fan of LSUS athletics in general and the Lady Pilots in particular, I have had the opportunity to watch the program develop and have seen many outstanding players and people come through the program over the years. Valerie stands out among the best we've had, not only as a player but as a person. From the first time I met her, I was impressed by her maturity and her dedication to the task at hand—whether it was on the basketball court or in the classroom. This was a wonderful hire for us. I predict that she will be a major contributor to both the university and the community, and that she will have a great career as a head coach."
- Dr. Dave Gustavson, Associate Athletic Director for Development, LSUS
"I am excited to have Valerie back on our campus. It will be nice to see the passion she had for LSUS as a player grow as she begins her career as head coach of the LSUS Lady Pilots. I believe there are great things in store for Val and the LSUS athletic department."
- Dr. Judith Covington – Professor of Mathematics, LSUS
- Self-proclaimed #1 Fan of LSUS Athletics
"The fact that Valerie was not only a great player but also a great person and a great student while she was a member of our Lady Pilots team leads me to conclude that she will be able to bring together what she learned in those roles and be a great coach. I look forward to working with her."
- Dr. Terry Harris – Professor and Chair, Department of English and Foreign Languages, LSUS
- Faculty Athletics Representative; Chair of Athletic Council, LSUS
"I am so excited to hear that Valerie has accepted the head coaching position. I believe she will do a fantastic job. From the time I met Valerie I knew not only would she be a great player for us but a great coach one day. She has been to the NAIA national tournament as a player and coach. She has a passion and knowledge of the game, and she has a great work ethic to go with that. Being a former player and alumni of LSUS, Valerie will be able to relay her experiences and successes in the classroom and on the court to current and future players in a way that no one else can. As her former coach at LSUS I couldn't be more proud her accomplishments thus far and I look forward to watching her carry the program to places it has not been before. Congrats Val!"
- Coach Ronnie Howell – Former Lady Pilots Basketball Head Coach (2003 – 2014), LSUS
"I have had the privilege of watching Valerie as a player here at LSUS and as an assistant coach at Our Lady of the Lake the past two seasons. There is no doubt that she is a winner. Every team she has been a part of has experienced some type of record-breaking success. She is a rising coach in the women's game, and I am looking forward to working with her and watching her put her stamp on our women's program."
- Coach Kyle Blankenship – Head Men's Basketball Head Coach, LSUS
"I am ecstatic to hear of Val's return to the LSUS family. I have fond memories from when she was a student referee with Rec Sports. She is a wonderful, warm and caring person who will enrich the lives of our student athletes."
- Angel Martin – Director of Student Activities & Recreational Sports, LSUS
"Val is young, and enthusiastic, and just a great leader. She will put forth maximum effort to lift the program up to new heights. I am so happy for her and for our program at LSUS. I am proud to call myself a former Lady Pilot and know that Coach Val will continue to represent all of us alums proudly."
- Amanda Fontenot – Head Girls Basketball Coach, Midland High School, Midland, Louisiana
LSUS Alum (2012) and Lady Pilot 2010 – 2012
"This is a tremendous gain for the LSUS Lady Pilot's basketball program with the hire of Val Huizar as the new Head Coach. After playing basketball with Val at LSUS and maintaining a close friendship for over 5 years, I have had the opportunity to see her grow and develop as a person, a friend, a collegiate coach, and an influential member of the community. I am a proud LSUS alumni and I have full confidence that Val will do a great job as a head coach at LSUS. She will strive daily to make sure the Lady Pilots succeed and take the program to the next level."
- Jamien Arvie, Esq. – Attorney, US Department of Justice – Chataignier, Louisiana
LSUS Alum (2009) and Lady Pilot (2007 – 2009)
"I am certain Valerie will be a great head coach. I feel confident in her coaching abilities in the respect of sending my players to play for her. I know she will take care of them both academically and athletically. I have seen Valerie out beating the paths recruiting numerous times so I know she has what it takes to find players. She works very hard and would represent her alma mater positively especially being an NAIA All-American herself. Valerie knows what it takes both in the classroom and on the court."
- Kim Sebek – Head Women's Basketball Coach, Temple College, Temple, Texas
Coach Huizar on style of play….
We will definitely play fast, but more than that we will absolutely play tough and smart. I'm excited to teach our players all facets of the game and help them to reach their highest potential as a basketball player and more importantly an individual. More than focusing on a specific style of play, we are going to be the best at the little things: setting hard screens, quick cuts, communication on both ends of the floor and most importantly playing together as a team. It's the execution of the little things that separate the tough teams from the average, and I am excited to teach this concept to our players.
What excites you the most about your new adventure?
I am so excited to sit on the other side of the table and offer the same extraordinary education and opportunities to our young athletes that I was offered. Choosing to play at LSUS was the best decision I ever made. The support from the entire Athletic Staff, Faculty, and Shreveport community are second to none. I, along with my past teammates, are living proof that this program has the tools to make your dreams come true.
Additional comments from Coach Huizar…
It's not going to be easy, nothing worth attaining ever is, but playing in this program will prepare our athletes to succeed on the court, and in the real world. My teammates and I are living proof that you can achieve anything you want after you graduate from LSUS. We are not just successful coaches, we are lawyers, physical therapists, teachers, and the list goes on and on. I can't wait to guide our future athletes through their college careers, and help them to be the best individual they can possibly be.