Valerie Huizar has been selected as the head coach of the LSU Shreveport Lady Pilots basketball team. 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,” Huizar said. “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,” LSUS athletic director Chad McDowell said. “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 said 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 replaces Bossier City resident Howell, who helped to put LSUS women’s basketball back on the map in the NAIA since the return of the team in 2003. 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,” said 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.”
— LSUS Sports Information