Former Mesa State women’s basketball coach takes over at UCCS
Former Mesa State College women’s basketball coach Steve Kirkham will be back on the sidelines next season.
The University of Colorado-Colorado Springs athletic director will serve as the interim coach, the school announced Monday.
“I’ve missed the teaching part, but I’ve never really enjoyed games,” Kirkham said. “The practice was always fun for me. I’ve done some recruiting and it’s a lot easier here. I can work in the office until noon and go watch games. Plus, I’m recruiting the University of Colorado.”
He took over the women’s basketball coach position for two reasons: To allow more time to find a long-term solution for the position and to ease the burden on a tight athletic budget in these economic times, he said.
“I was trying to get someone in quick enough without losing a recruiting class, but I started to realize that was not going to happen,” he said. “Quite frankly, we couldn’t get it done. Plus, I didn’t want (a young coach) to cut their teeth on this bunch of kids. The Chancellor and Vice Chancellor agreed it was a good idea for me to do it.”
With Kirkham taking over the program, it will save the program $50,000, he said.
The Mountain Lions were 8-19 last season and failed to make the RMAC tournament, but have 11 potential returning players.
Kirkham has already signed a couple of players for next season and is looking for post players. The Mountain Lions’ one senior last season, 6-foot post Nancy Hoist, was second on the team in scoring and first in rebounding.
“A strong inside game has always been key in RMAC,” he said.
Kirkham led Mesa State to four RMAC titles and had the Mavericks ranked in the national top 25 five times. He is the winningest coach in Mesa State women’s basketball history (299-157). Kirkham is 432-233 in his career, including at the high school and junior college levels.
Mesa State hosts UCCS in the 2009-10 season.
“It will be hard to sit on the opposite bench at Saunders (Fieldhouse),” he said.
Kirkham takes over for Jessika Caldwell, who resigned after posting a 41-71 record in four seasons.