Former Cowley College coach Linda Hargrove is coming out of retirement to serve as the interim women’s basketball coach for Wichita State University.
“I’m getting excited … I’ve got to get back into it,” Hargrove said in an interview Jan. 24.
Her first practice with the team took place earlier that day.
Hargrove is stepping in midseason — an unusual circumstance — after the departure of former coach Jody Adams-Birch.
WSU Athletic Director Darron Boatright stated Adams-Birch’s departure was a “joint, mutual and amicable separation that was in the best interest of all (parties) involved” during a Jan. 23 press conference.
Hargrove previously coached for WSU in the ’90s. During her time at WSU, she led the Shockers to their first Missouri Valley Conference championship game and left the college with the most wins in the school’s history.
In 1993, she was named the MVC Coach of the Year after leading the team to its first winning season in a decade.
Cowley College coaching days
Hargrove, a Udall native, graduated from Cowley College in 1970. “I was an athlete — I’ve always been competitive,” she said.
However, Hargrove said she never thought she would become a coach, let alone have a career that spanned three decades.
In the ’70s, Cowley asked her to come back and start its women’s basketball team.
“I coached it all,” she said. Not only did she coach the basketball team, but she also coached volleyball, softball and more.
As a result, Hargrove stands alone in the history of Cowley College as the only coach to take the Lady Tigers to the national tournament in both basketball and volleyball. In her 17-year tenure at Cowley, she compiled a 316-112 record as women’s basketball coach.
Other career accomplishments
Hargrove compiled a 113-136 record in the nine seasons she previously served as the head coach for Wichita State University.
She coached not only at the collegiate level, but spent several years coaching professional and Olympic teams.
Hargrove has served on the board of directors for both the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and USA Basketball Senior National Team Committee.
She is also a member of the Southwestern College Athletic Hall of Fame, Cowley College Hall of Fame and NJCAA Hall of Fame.
Hargrove and Boatright both serve on the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame board.
Hargrove looking forward
Hargrove said she is looking forward to going back to “the next phase of life,” as she calls retirement, after this season is over.
However, she will finish out the year with the Shockers and stay on to help hire a new coach before she returns to retirement.
Hargrove had positive things to say about the team she is inheriting.
“There’s not a great deal of difference between that junior college athlete, the athlete at Wichita State and the athlete at the WNBA level,” she said during Monday’s press conference.
“A lot of it has to do with drive, determination, how passionate they are about playing and how high they can actually take their talents. And there’s talent here.”