April 27, 2011
NORMAN, Okla. -- University of Oklahoma women’s basketball coach Sherri Coale was honored by Oklahoma City University with the Abe Lemons/Paul Hansen Award for Sports Excellence Tuesday night.
Presented at the annual OCU Sports Spectacular at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, the Lemons/Hansen Award recognizes an individual who significantly contributes to the growth of sports in the state of Oklahoma.
Hansen and Lemons were men's basketball coaches at OCU and won a combined 509 games at the university.
Last year’s honoree was OCU chancellor Tom J. McDaniel. Past award winners include Ron Norick, Clay Bennett, Lee Allan Smith, Dr. William Grana, Stanley Draper Jr., Bob Funk, Barry Switzer, Mick Cornett, Bart Connor, Bill Self, and the late Bobby Murcer.
In her 15th season as head coach of the University of Oklahoma women's basketball team, Sherri Coale presides over of the top college basketball programs in the nation. Her goals have always been to maximize the potential of her players and team on and off the court by encouraging excellence in the classroom and service in the community.
Coale turned a struggling program into a national title contender in a short period of time. Since 1996, the Sooners have won six regular-season Big 12 titles, four Big 12 tournament titles and made 12 straight appearances in the NCAA tournament. Coach Coale and the Sooners became the first Big 12 Conference team to advance to the NCAA Final Four, appearing in the national championship game in 2002.
In 2006, Coale's team had an unprecedented and historic 19-0 run through the Big 12 Conference regular-season and Big 12 Conference Tournament, winning both titles. The Sooners reappeared in the Final Four in back-to-back seasons in 2009 and 2010.
Coale has been recognized nationally for her achievements. Coale was the recipient of the 2011 United Nations NGO Positive Peace Award in the coaching category for her commitment to community involvement.
She served as an assistant coach on the 2001 USA Basketball Women's Junior World Championship Team that won a bronze medal in Brno, Czech Republic, in July 2001. Coale also received accolades by being named Big 12 Coach of the Year a record four times in 2000, 2001, 2006 and 2009.
One of the most respected coaches in NCAA Division I basketball, Sherri Coale served as President of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association from 2007-09.
A native of Healdton, Okla., Coale spent her collegiate career playing for Oklahoma Christian University's basketball team where she was an Academic All-American and graduated summa cum laude.
She began her head coaching career at Norman High School in Oklahoma. During her tenure, the Norman Tigers amassed a record of 147-40, including two state championships. After seven years and amazing success at the high school level, Coale accepted the top coaching position at Oklahoma in 1996.