Some coaches just simply coach players and then there are those who coach champions.
UVU women’s basketball Coach Cathy Nixon is just that.
Entering her 16th year as head coach of the lady Wolverines, Nixon is the coach of champions.
The last two seasons alone have seen her team win, and not just single game wins, but a conference championship and an independent championship.
Nixon has continued to take the program up in her time at UVU beginning in her inaugural year of 1995-96.
That year Nixon coached the lady Wolverines to their best season ever during junior college play (29-6) after taking the Scenic West Athletic Conference, Region 18 and District crowns before placing fourth in the country at the NJCAA National Championships and earning her Region 18 Coach of the Year honors.
Nixon’s second year saw her lead the lady Wolverines again to the SWAC title and then the 2000-01 season saw them return to the NJCAA National Championships.
Before she knew it, they were entering their first season as part of the NCAA in 2003-04 and then last season entering their first season as part of the Great West Conference and ending the year as GWC champions.
Anyone who has followed Nixon’s career has seen the program continue to move up, creating a winning status, but according to Nixon it has always been in the works.
“Its actually something that we’ve been trying to create for a while,” Nixon said. “It was interesting as we made the transition from junior college—honestly if we didn’t compete for the national championship when we were in junior college we had underachieved. And part of that transition for us was creating the expectation, the mentality that we could win at this level,”
Nixon attributes the program’s success to her athletes saying, “The past players, I think, have contributed to creating that mentality of ‘we do expect to win, we expect to compete’ and obviously Division I has all levels of programs, but I think over the years we’ve shown that we can compete with the best of them.”
Nixon’s squads don’t only display success on the court, but in the classroom also. Last season Nixon’s roster was honored academically by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association for displaying the best NCAA Division I team GPA in the nation with a 3.63.
“Honestly, academically, I think the key to that success is just recruiting committed students from the beginning, Nixon said. “That’s something that we’ve tried to do in recruiting. Not everyone is a 4.0 student, but everybody can work hard in school and that’s kind of what we try to emphasize.”
Nixon also says, “My mantra, academically, has been that I expect you to do your best and if your best is a 4.0 then that’s what I expect of you; if it’s a 3.0 then that’s what I expect of you there too. I think more than anything we’ve also built a culture academically where the kids just expect to be successful and they expect to work hard at it,” added Nixon.
Nixon praises her athletes with their academic success saying, “It’s been great to coach this caliber of kids because really we don’t do a lot to crack the whip on them. They’re very motivated already.”
Even though the athletic department has supervised study hall and grade checks for the student athletes, Nixon praises the system the department has for its athletes.
“The athletic department is set up for every student athlete to be successful if they hold themselves accountable for it. It’s great to have committed students,” added Nixon.