As Lin Laursen prepares to head out, her legacy keeps the accolades rolling in
PHOENIX, Ariz. - Retiring Central Arizona College head women’s basketball coach Lin Laursen may need to slowly transfer all of her plaques, trophies, certificates, inscribed basketballs and bobbleheads from her office to her home.
Laursen may be turning the reins – and her office – over to assistant coach Denise Cardenas, but her peers keep acknowledging her accomplishments with enough sports hardware to fill an aisle at Home Depot.
On Friday night May 2, the Phoenix Women’s Sports Association (PWSA) will honor Laursen with its Girl’s/Woman's Sport of the Year Award.
The honor will be presented during the PWSA’s Fifth Annual Power to Inspire Awards Dinner at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix. The event is the only awards celebration in Arizona that honors elite women athletes from all generations.
The Phoenix Women's Sports Association (PWSA) is a nonprofit organization formed to help girls and women find their power through sports. PWSA reaches out to all girls and women, particularly those from underserved communities, to give them opportunities to reach their greatest potential by building confidence and self-esteem through participation in sports and fitness activities. Research has documented the positive effects of girls' and women's participation in sports of all ages.
The honor comes on the heels of Laursen receiving the 2008 Russell Athletic/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association National Junior College/Community College Coach of the Year award. It marks the 26th year this accolade has been presented, which has been selected by the WBCA since 1983.
Laursen received the inaugural award in 1983 and was honored again in 2005. She was one of six coaches who were honored on April 7 at the WBCA National Convention in Tampa, Fla.
Coaches of the year also wereselected at the NCAA Division I, II and III levels, for the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics), and at the high school level.
Laursen will be inducted into the Women’s Basektball Hall of Fame on June 14 at the Bijou Theatre in Knoxville, Tenn.
On March 17, Laursen was inducted into the National Junior College Athletic Association Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Salina, Kan.
The coach with the most victories in NJCAA women’s basketball history, Laursen has left an indelible mark on the court. Under her guidance, Central Arizona captured 20 straight Arizona Community College Athletic Conference titles from 1980-81 through 2000-01, boasting a 392-10 league record and a .975 winning mark during that stretch.
Her teams have produced three National Junior College Athletic Association Division I Championships (1989, 1998, 2005), 11 NJCAA final four appearances (1988-90, 1997-99, 2004-08), 29 ACCAC titles, including another one this year, and 36 All-Americans.
In the last four seasons, Central Arizona College has finished no lower than third in the nation.
Laursen’s all-time career record of 970-145 translated into a .870 winning percentage, while her ACCAC all-time mark of 628-32 gives the longtime coach a .952 victory clip.
Her team’s dominance of league opponents continues today with Central Arizona currently owning an 88-0 league record over the last four years.
Laursen’s squad finished the year 33-1, winning 33 consecutive games to start the season before falling in the NJCAA Division I National Championship by a point.
The Vaqueras are demolishing the ACCAC opposition while scurrying away with the regular-season title. They have forged a 21-0 mark in their conference schedule, leaving only debris in their wake.
Laursen has led her Vaqueras to 27 NJCAA National Tournament appearances during her career, including 10 in a row from 1986-95. In 34 years as a head coach, she has produced more than 100 All-ACCAC or All-Region athletes and churned out 31 seasons of 20 or more victories.
During her career, Laursen has led the Vaqueras to 30 wins or more in 20 different campaigns. In 1994 her team was awarded the Alberta Lee Cox Sportsmanship Award, a testimony to her team's conduct on the court.
Laursen’s long career as the only mentor in Vaquera history will come to a glorious end with her induction into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. She will retire with more victories in the game of women’s college basketball than nearly any coach who has ever stalked the sidelines with the notable exception being Pat Summit, the head coach at the University of Tennessee.
Laursen’s recruiting ability has blazed a trail of success unmapped in the sport. Four-year schools have accepted more than 180 of her players onto their rosters, giving her an average of more than five players every year moving on to a four-year school.
Central Arizona College stars like Bridget Pettis and Amanda Lassiter have even graduated to play in the WNBA, while Pettis won a WNBA title as an assistant coach with the Phoenix Mercury last summer.
Many of Laursen’s players are still active overseas, living out their passion by playing the game professionally. The coaching ranks are blanketed with her disciples, including Greta Naranjo at Pima Community College and Sam Ezell at Phoenix College.