The excitement kicked off with our gymnastics team beating Florida on Friday night in a down-to-the-wire contest that ultimately required our two seniors, Diandra Milliner and Kim Jacob, each scoring 9.85 in the final event of the evening to bring home the victory.
Hardworking, energetic, aggressive and disciplined all are words that can be used to describe Alabama head women's basketball coach Kristy Curry, who enters her second season with the Crimson Tide. Curry and her staff came in and immediately made an impact at Alabama, which was clearly evident both on and off the court.
In 2013-14, the Tide won seven Southeastern Conference games marking the most since the 2001-02 season. Included in those wins was the first in Lexington against Kentucky since 2002, the first against Georgia since 2004, snapping a 23-game losing streak to the Lady Bulldogs, and the first in program history at Vanderbilt's Memorial Gym. Overall, Alabama won 14 games, playing one of the most difficult schedules in the nation, bringing Curry's overall coaching record to 323-165 (.662) in 15 seasons.
Home-game attendance increased significantly in Curry's first season as the Tide drew nearly 900 more attendees per game than it had in 2012-13. In fact, Foster Auditorium drew a crowd of 2,678 for its win over Georgia on Jan. 26, setting a new record attendance for women's basketball in the historic building. Fans then answered the call to top that number the next week against Tennessee, and would set another record as 3,002 packed into Foster to watch the Tide and Lady Vols.
Another area that saw a dramatic improvement was the team's involvement in community service. The Tide took part in several activities throughout local communities including Habitat for Humanity, Hoops for Heart at Huntington Place Elementary School, Upward Basketball, MDA Lock-Up, playing games and serving dessert to the residents of Capstone Village Retirement Community, making gingerbread houses with the students of the CrossingPoints transition program, Project Angel Tree and the program's annual 5th Grade Fastbreak. The team was recognized for its efforts during the athletic department's year-end banquet as the women's team with the most service hours throughout the year.
Curry also received a special honor of her own at the 2014 Women's Basketball Coaches' Association Convention in Nashville, Tenn., as she was awarded the Kay Yow Heart of a Coach Award, presented by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The award, established in 2008 to honor the late Kay Yow, recognizes a basketball coach who has coached according to Biblical principles, and to the heart, body and mind of the athlete.
Curry has coached several all-conference, all-academic and All-America players over the span of 15 successful seasons, including three Southeastern Conference honor roll recipients in 2014.
Prior to arriving at The Capstone, Curry spent seven seasons at the helm of the Texas Tech Lady Raider basketball program where she compiled a record of 130-98 (570). She guided the Lady Raiders to a 21-11 record in 2012-13 and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years.
In her final season in Lubbock, senior guards Monique Smalls, Casey Morris and Chynna Brown picked up All-Big 12 Conference Team honors in 2012-13, led by Brown as a first team selection. Tech was the only Big 12 team to have all three starting backcourt members named to the all-conference team.
In addition to her time on the court, Curry has spent time off the court contributing on several national and regional committees. She currently is serving on the NCAA Women's Basketball Issues Committee and is a member of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, serving on the Defensive Player of the Year Award committee.
After establishing herself as one of the most successful women's basketball coaches in Purdue history, where she coached from 1999-2006, Curry took over the reigns of the tradition-rich program at Texas Tech on March 30, 2006.
On Nov. 23, 2007, Curry added another milestone to her resume as she captured her 200th career win in a 78-56 victory over Kennesaw State during the Basketball Travelers Classic in Lubbock. That 2007-08 season also saw the Lady Raiders return to postseason play, as they competed in the Postseason WNIT.
In her first stint as a head coach, Curry was hired at Purdue in April of 1999, becoming the first women's basketball coach in NCAA history to inherit a national championship-winning team. She led her first squad to four-straight wins in the 1999-2000 season, extending Purdue's school-record win streak to 34 consecutive games, a mark that ranks sixth in NCAA history.
In her seven years at the helm of the Boilermakers, Curry compiled a record of 179-51 (.778) and was 86-26 (.768) in Big Ten Conference games. Curry's teams won two Big Ten regular-season (2001, `02) and three Big Ten Tournament (2000, `03, `04) championships. She also guided her teams to seven NCAA Tournament appearances, including the Final Four and championship game in 2001. Curry became only the second coach in NCAA history to guide her team to the NCAA championship game in her second year as a head coach.
In her fourth season at Purdue, Curry collected her 100th career coaching win with a 74-48 victory against Indiana on Feb. 27, 2003. Curry needed only 126 games to reach that milestone, getting there faster than any coach in Purdue history. Curry also recorded her 100th victory quicker than coaching icons such as Pat Summitt of Tennessee, Geno Auriemma of Connecticut, Tara VanDerveer of Stanford and Jody Conradt of Texas.
Not only did Curry have successful teams, but she also had coached some very successful student-athletes in West Lafayette. Under Curry's leadership at Purdue, Katie Douglas became the third player in Big Ten history, and the first Purdue player, to earn two Kodak All-America honors (2000, 2001). Douglas was the 2000 and 2001 Big Ten Player of the Year and was named the 2001 Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year. A two-time All-Big Ten pick, Douglas is one of six Purdue players from the Curry era to earn first team all-conference honors.
Shereka Wright, an assistant on Curry's staff at Texas Tech and now an assistant at Alabama, was the 2000 USA TODAY and Gatorade High School Player of the Year out of Copperas Cove, Texas, and finished her four-year career under Curry as Purdue's second all-time leading scorer. Following her senior season, in which she led the Big Ten in scoring during conference games, Wright earned first-team honors on the inaugural Wooden Women's All-America Team. Lubbock native Erika Valek, a four-year starting point guard for the Boilermakers, capped her career by receiving the 2004 Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award as the nation's top player under 5-foot-8.
The on-court success of Curry's teams has carried over into the classroom as well. In seven years at Texas Tech, her student-athletes received Academic All-Big 12 honors 13 times and were named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District team five times. Curry's student-athletes received Academic All-Big Ten distinction 24 times during her career at Purdue. Every Boilermaker who finished her playing career at Purdue during Curry's tenure went on to graduate.
Curry began coaching in her home state of Louisiana, as she started at the prep level as a head coach at Weston (1988-90) and Mansfield (1990-91) high schools. From there, Curry quickly moved to the college ranks as an assistant at Tulane for two seasons (1991-93). She then spent a year at Stephen F. Austin (1993-94) before moving on to Texas A&M for the next two seasons (1994-96).
Curry later returned to the state of Louisiana to be an assistant coach at Louisiana Tech for Hall of Famer Leon Barmore, during three seasons from 1996-99. In 1996-97, Louisiana Tech went 31-4 and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16. The Lady Techsters then posted another 31-4 record in 1997-98 and finished as the NCAA runner-up. In Curry's final season in Ruston, Louisiana Tech went 30-3 and advanced to the NCAA Final Four.
Off the court, Curry has placed a high priority on giving back to the community. She has been heavily involved with several organizations, including: the American Cancer Society Coaches vs. Cancer, Joe Arrington Cancer Center, Junior League, of Lubbock, Salvation Army, South Plains Food Bank, Women's Protective Services, Komen for the Cure, Ronald McDonald House, UMC Children's Center, AMBUC's of Lubbock, Shoes for Orphan Souls, Toys for Tots, United Way, Girl Scouts and Habitat for Humanity.
A highly sought-after guest speaker, Curry was a keynote speaker for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's "A Time for Women" event and has been a spokeswoman for the Muscular Dystrophy Association's "Aisles of Smiles." Curry also has made personal appearances for numerous fundraising events and has recorded several public service announcements.
A native of Olla, La., Curry graduated from LaSalle High School and then went on to earn her bachelor of science degree in health and physical education at Northeast Louisiana in 1988. She earned a master's degree in education at Stephen F. Austin in 1994.
Curry and her husband Kelly have two daughters, Kelsey and Kendall.
COACHING HIGHLIGHTS Nine NCAA Tournament appearances One NCAA Final Four Two NCAA Elite Eights Four NCAA Sweet 16s Three Women's National Invitation Tournament appearances Two Big Ten regular season titles Nine 20-win seasons