ASHLAND, VA — When one hears about the accomplishments and accolades collected by Randolph-Macon College women’s basketball head coach Carroll LaHaye, one is likely to assume coaching has always been the intentional plan for LaHaye, a Warren native and Medomak Valley graduate.
However, what ultimately turned into a coaching legacy was anything but intentional.
LaHaye is entering her 37th season at the helm of the Yellow Jackets and became the 59th NCAA coach across all women’s basketball divisions to achieve 600 wins on Jan. 20, 2018.
The season opener for the Yellow Jackets is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 12, on the road against Marymount University.
Last season, LaHaye navigated the team to a 23-6 record that saw the team advance to the second round of the NCAA Division III tournament.
LaHaye, in addition to her time as the women’s basketball coach, has served as the athletic coordinator for the school’s female athletic teams, women’s soccer head coach and women’s lacrosse head coach. Her 1982 lacrosse team finished fifth in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women national tournament.
LaHaye has been recognized by the American Women's Sports Federation, the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, the Virginia Sports Information Directors, the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Old Dominion Athletic Conference for her distinguished coaching career.
She was inducted into the Midcoast Sports Hall of Fame in 2010 and the University of Maine at Machias Hall of Fame in 2012.
The Warren native noted her transition from being an athlete that played volleyball and basketball to coaching seemed natural since her family consists of athletes.
Despite the natural feelings, LaHaye noted the transition to coaching was not intentional.
During her senior year at the University of Maine at Machias, where she earned a bachelor’s degree cum laude in business management-recreation in 1977, officials from Machias High School visited the university to see if any basketball players were interested in coaching for the high school.
LaHaye opted to become a coach of the high school team with a teammate. From then on, LaHaye was hooked to coaching.
Aside from her coaching duties at Randolph-Macon, LaHaye splits her time at the college as the director of physical education and associate professor of physical education.
Speaking of time, LaHaye noted time commitment is a huge factor people interested in becoming a coach should consider before making the transition to coaching.
“You have to be ready to put your entire self into the sport mentally, physically and emotionally, if you want to be good,” LaHaye stated.
She noted that unless you are able to hold practice sessions at your own facility, you will have to share the facility and available practice time slots with other sports, an especially challenging aspect at the collegiate level when the school day is not as structured the same as a high school school day.
There are several other challenges LaHaye highlighted, including one of the most important aspects of the job — recruiting. It can, at times, be a challenge for LaHaye to convince families a $50,000 education while playing college basketball is worth it.
On top of recruiting, LaHaye serves as a mentor to players and is tasked with helping them through difficult and challenging moments of their young lives. She said she helps players overcome challenges related to academics, relationships, home life and just simply balancing everything life throws at a college student.
Despite the coaching challenges, LaHaye noted the profession is fun and rewarding.
Being able to watch the young women grow and mature as players and people is a gratifying aspect of being a coach, according to LaHaye, who also enjoys seeing her players transition from being high school-level players to collegiate-level players through strength, speed and competitiveness.
For those seeking to break into collegiate athletics before possible coaching careers, LaHaye emphasized possessing knowledge about the collegiate teams you are interested in is key.
“You have to have an idea of the kind of play and/or player that the program is all about,” she said.
LaHaye also implored students to not wait until their senior year of high school to start marketing themselves to college coaches. Additionally, LaHaye noted it is important for recruits to maintain open lines of communication with college coaches as much as possible to establish relationships and be able to narrow your choices sooner.
Lastly, LaHaye noted students — not just student-athletes — should be going through the admissions and financial aid processes as soon as possible, while also visiting schools of interest early in the process.
Reach George Harvey and the sports department at: email@example.com.