Joplin, Mo. – Maryann Mitts, the all-time winningest coach in Missouri Southern State University women's basketball history, has announced her retirement from coaching to pursue a teaching position at Missouri Southern in the department of kinesiology. The move is effective immediately and associate head coach Ronda Hubbard will serve as the interim head coach for the 2013-14 season.
"Obviously, a decision of this magnitude is difficult," Mitts said. "I have been fortunate enough to have been a head coach at the collegiate level for nearly 20 years, 12 of those at Missouri Southern. I have a passion for Missouri Southern and a love for the women's basketball program. It has been my complete honor to serve and continue to serve MSSU and the Joplin Community."
Mitts retires as the all-time wins leader in women's basketball history at Southern with 189 wins, 60 more than the next closest total. In 12 seasons with the Lions, Mitts compiled a 189-145 (.566) record and retires with an overall record of 272-201 (.577). She previously had spent five seasons as head coach at her alma mater, Rockhurst, going 83-57 (.593).
"I'd like to thank coach Mitts for her service to Missouri Southern," said director of athletics Jared Bruggeman. "For the past dozen years, she has been the face of Missouri Southern women's basketball. Her tireless effort on and off the court can be seen in her players and in her coaches, and the results that her teams accomplished are what other coaches that come along will be judged by. I want to personally wish her luck in her next venture as a collegiate professor."
Mitts' teams averaged 16 wins a season in her tenure at Southern and she had a winning season and took the team to the MIAA post season tournament in all but one season at the helm of the Lions. She took a team that finished 10-17 in the year prior to her hire and turned them around to finish 17-11 and earn a fifth-place finish in the highly-competitive MIAA in her first season.
"I would like to sincerely thank my family, especially my parents, for their love and support during my coaching tenure," Mitts said. "College coaching is a lifestyle full of daily demands including most weekends and all major holidays. I look forward to spending quality time and reconnecting with my immediate family."
"I want to thank all my former student-athletes who have represented Missouri Southern, many of them are currently leaders in their chosen vocations. They are true ambassadors for MSSU on the court, in the classroom, and through the many service activities performed within the Joplin community. A special thanks and my appreciation goes out to Sallie Beard for providing me this opportunity back in 2001 and for her professional mentoring over the years."
She came to Southern from Rockhurst University in Kansas City where she was the head coach at her alma mater for five seasons after serving as an assistant coach for the previous three. In her first season at Rockhurst, Mitts led the 1996-97 Hawks to an 18-10 record in their first season as a dual NAIA/NCAA Division II institution. That season Rockhurst won the National Catholic Basketball Tournament title, while Mitts was named NCBT Coach of the Year.
Mitts graduated from Rockhurst in 1992 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in secondary education, and from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1995 with a master of arts degree in higher education administration, emphasis in athletic administration and is currently pursuing a masters degree in Pastoral Studies from Loyolla Institute for Ministry. Mitts is also a 2004 graduate of the nationally recognized NCAA Women Coaches Academy and successfully completed the Dimension II stage of the program in 2005.
As a two-sport standout for the Hawks, Mitts earned all-America honors in volleyball and basketball. She was also Regional Player of the Year in volleyball as a senior, and was a two-time scholastic All-American. Mitts was an award-winning basketball player at St. Teresa's Academy in Kansas City, earning All-America and Academic All-America recognition as a senior, and all-state kudos her final two seasons. She was named Kansas City Metro Female Athlete of the Year in 1987 and that same year was named St. Teresa's "Academy Girl" for outstanding leadership in academics and athletics as well as excellence in moral, ethical and religious characteristics.
In 1996, Mitts was named one of the "Top 29 Young People under 30" by Kansas City Magazine. The following year the Kansas City Sons and Daughters of Columbus honored Mitts as "Female Columbiana of the Year" and "Women in Leadership" for outstanding service.
Mitts will move into the classroom where she will be an assistant professor in the department of kinesiology, which will include both physical education and health promotion majors.
"I am very excited about the opportunity to continue to serve Missouri Southern and am looking forward to teaching in such a highly respected department," she said. "The classroom setting will afford me the opportunity to work with hundreds of college students on a daily basis and will allow me to truly embrace my passion for teaching. This new endeavor and direction of my life will allow time to pursue many passions dear to me. I want to thank Dr. Pat Lipira and Dr. Jean Hobbs for their leadership – I look forward to working with them and the Kinesiology faculty."
Hubbard has been an assistant coach for each of Mitts' 12 seasons at MSSU and will be tasked with leading the Lions into the 2013-14 season.
"I am honored and humbled to fill her shoes," Hubbard said. "We have always shared the same philosophy about making 'winners' out of our players in every aspect of life. I am so excited to coach this team we have coming back. There are ten players currently here working hard this summer to improve and we collectively have high aspirations for this coming year. Those players, coupled with the recruits we have signed, are going to be well-positioned to conquer the goals we set back in March as we prepared for the off-season."
Mitts thinks the team won't miss a beat under the leadership of Hubbard.
"The program is in great hands with the promotion of Coach Hubbard," Mitts said. "Missouri Southern has chosen one of the most knowledgeable coaches in the game. She truly loves Missouri Southern and has invested many years to the university and women's basketball program. Coach Hubbard is an exceptional teacher of the game and strategist. Our fans should be ecstatic about the future of the program and the next era of LION Women's Basketball and rest assured, I will be their #1 fan!"