First-year coach Lindy La Rocque was named Coach of the Year in the Mountain West conference this month, as she continues to build the new foundation for the women’s basketball program.
La Rocque, as a Las Vegas native, was honored to have the opportunity to return to her hometown and coach UNLV for her first head coaching opportunity. She grew up with a father, who coached a local high school basketball team himself. After playing at Durango high school, La Rocque reached four Final Fours as a guard at Stanford.
"Taking a position that you’ve never had before, everyone is always confident in your ability and you’re eager and excited,” La Rocque said, “but you never know exactly if you’re fit for the job.”
The Lady Rebels started the season off with a young squad and faced the challenges of playing in a pandemic. Due to COVID-19, La Rocque wasn’t able to spend the normal amount of time with her team in the pre-season.
With the restrictions of the pandemic, the team had to get creative to form team chemistry on and off the court. Once the season started, the team also had to take COVID tests three times a week.
The testing was different every week, depending on the games and traveling needs. The cancelation of games at the last minute also left some uncertainty, as the Lady Rebels continued to work hard every single day to improve.
"I think it was kind of a blessing that it was my first year being a head coach during this pandemic because I didn’t know any different,” La Rocque said. “Obviously, I knew what was different when I was an assistant and everything.”
"I think maybe it was maybe to our advantage that our staff was new and it was our first year together because we weren’t making excuses for anything.”
Even with a slow start to the season, the Lady Rebels managed to stay undefeated on the road, with a 15-9 overall record. They’ve won five straight and 10 of their last 12 games, to earn the No. 2 seed in the Mountain West tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center.
By building the foundation for the program, coach La Rocque plans to keep the motto of “tough and together to stay tougher together”, both on and off the court. As she starts the recruiting process for the upcoming season, the team is looking for students who do well academically and athletically. La Rocque says she looks forward to helping build the program, and work with all the amazing student-athletes of UNLV.
"We’re just getting started,” La Rocque added. “We had a great season, but we have a lot of work to do. Ultimately our goal is to be a championship program, we want to play championships and win championships. We are going to win championships and we’re on our way.”