Is the Perfect Lady Raiders Coach Already in Lubbock? Yes, He Is.
Kirby Hocutt is in the midst of a national coaching search to fill a vacancy on the Lady Raiders' coaching staff. The head coach is a position for the Lady Raiders that has been in flux since Marsha Sharpe retired.
I have the solution. I'm going to give it to Mr. Hocutt for free, and he won't even need a plane to get to the interview because the perfect candidate is already here in Lubbock, Texas.
I'm not talking about Shimmy Gray-Miller, the interim head coach. I'm not even talking about Sheryl Swoopes, who is already on staff at Texas Tech and has several Olympic medals from her playing career. I'm talking about going west, just down the road, to Lubbock Christian University and hiring Steve Gomez.
If you don't know who Steve Gomez is, let me give you the highlights of his resume.
While LCU was an NAIA school, the Lady Chaps went to 10 straight National Championship tournaments. Gomez's NAIA record was 234-96. LCU has been NCAA Division 2 since the 2013-2014 season, and all LCU has done since making the jump is to mess around and win over 100 games. All this as Gomez is getting into his 5th season.
Those 100-plus games include an undefeated National Championship campaign where the team went 35-0, which the team celebrated in a unique way. Gomez won 19 games in his rebuilding year.
Gomez has been honored with the WBCA NCAA Div. II National Coach of the Year honor and also spent some time as a coach at the 2016 USA Basketball Women’s U17 World Championship Team Trials in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He also won SAC coach of the year back in his NAIA days.
This short blurb doesn't begin to cover what Steve Gomez is as a coach. I could write 5,000 words on his on-court accomplishments and wouldn't have covered every record, title and accolade. It's not just on the court where Coach Gomez is a good fit for the Lady Raiders. He's a Lubbock guy who isn't trying to parlay into a bigger job.
Gomez graduated from LCU, where he played basketball. He coached at Monterey and Cooper before going back to LCU to take over the Lady Chaps. He's been engrained in the Lubbock basketball scene since the 80s.
He's recruited the area at a high level, especially since LCU has moved to the NCAA.
If you aren't convinced that Steve Gomez belongs, here's arguably the greatest women's basketball coach of all-time, and definitely the best one going right now, Geno Auriemma, after the Chaps went 35-0.
Auriemma's and Gomez's teams had played an exhibition matchup to open that season.
"I can tell a lot by watching a team play, and when we played them, you could tell," Auriemma said of the Gomez-led Lady Chaps. "They never stopped playing. They never stopped competing."
To finish, Auriemma dropped a huge line of respect: "Their coach is a hell of a coach, I like the way he does things."
For my final point, I'm going to give you some words straight from Coach Gomez:
My philosophy of coaching is a direct reflection of the things that are most important to me – my faith, my family and a passion for competition. As a result of my faith in a God who embodies the perfect balance of justice and love, my main desire as a person and coach is to live as an example of those characteristics. Secondly, because of my love and enjoyment of family, and realizing how similar a team is to a family, I want to help in building lasting relationships – coach to player and player to player – while providing an environment for individuals to improve athletically, academically and spiritually. I want all involved in our basketball program to have a full understanding of success, which will ultimately be measured by the quality and influence of our lives and not only by the result of a single performance or season. I hope to instill self-discipline and a healthy competitive spirit in each of our players as I strive to encourage and bring out the best character traits and physical abilities that each one possesses.
So to Kirby Hocutt, I say open the checkbook and write Steve Gomez a check he cannot refuse. I'm talking seven figures, which is competitive with the top contracts in the Big 12.
Steve Gomez could make the Lady Raiders a perennial tournament team and a threat in the Big 12 for championships, and he won't even need to buy a new house.