The first seven seasons of Texas Tech Lady Raider basketball led to seven mediocre seasons under three different head coaches. Prior to the 1982-1983 season the Lady Raiders made a coaching change that would forever change the culture of women’s basketball at Tech. A future Women's Basketball Hall of Fame coach, Marsha Sharp, was promoted from an assistant coach position to the head coach position.
Success came fast and it came often for the Lady Raiders during Coach Sharp's tenure at Texas Tech. In just her second year as head coach she led the Lady Raiders to the first NCAA Tournament berth in the program’s history, a feat that would be accomplished 17 times under reign. However, just making it to the NCAA Tournament was not enough for the Lady Raiders; 7 times they advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.
I have a question for the good readers of Viva The Matadors. Can you name the Texas Tech head coach with the most championships during his/her tenure at Tech? I hope, that by reading this article, you picked up that it is Coach Sharp! She coached 13 teams to Southwest Conference/ Big 12 regular season or post-season conference tournament titles. And of course she led the Red Raiders to the 1993 NCAA National Championship. Her efforts as a coach were reward by 8 times being named the Southwest Conference/ Big 12 Coach of the Year, and in 1995 she was named the National Head Coach of the Year. During her 23 years as head coach of the Lady Raiders, she never had an overall record losing season or a conference losing season record. Upon retirement she had a .761 overall winning percentage, which translated to an overall 557-175 record.
If you live in Lubbock and attend Tech you can’t go anywhere without seeing the impact she has had on the city and university. Literally. US Highway 82 is named Marsha Sharp Freeway in Lubbock. An athletics building is named the Marsha Sharp Center for Student-Athletes in honor of her. She was instrumental in helping the Kay Yow Cancer Fund raise $4 million dollars for their research. She is currently employed by Texas Tech as an assistant athletic director, and can be seen in the stands at many basketball games.
Obviously, Marsha Sharp was a great head coach for the Lady Raiders. However, just to tell her story strictly using championships and records would be a huge disservice to her. Growing up my little sister attended a few of Coach Sharp’s summer camps and absolutely loved her time there. Many times when a coach hosts young players for one of the weekly youth summer camps, that coach shows up and the beginning and end of said camp and lets the volunteers and assistant coaches completely run the camp. Not Marsha Sharp. She was involved in the majority of the drills and activities that the girls were doing and did her best to “coach them up”, even though they were only there for a week. That sentiment was echoed when a former superstar player, Sheryl Swoopes, said this about her former coach, “Marsha Sharp is the single individual in my life who has had the most influence on me as a person.” Whether it her superstar college players or a girl who took a camp for a week, Coach Sharp invested in each young lady who stepped onto her court.
What are some of your favorite Marsha Sharp memories? Was it the 1993 NCAA title that she brought to Tech, a memory from a summer camp, or maybe just enjoying a game that she coached? Be sure to comment below or tweet me @ConnerCrisp. Thanks for reading and GUNS UP!