Sooner or later, Roxanne Long knew that she would return to her favorite state — Oklahoma.
On Monday, Long wasn’t in Claremore visiting, but instead accepting the job as the new Rogers State University head women’s basketball coach.
“Thrilled to be here,” Long said.
“Oklahoma is my favorite state. I’ve played basketball at OU and coached two years at ORU. It’s good to be back in familiar territory.”
Long resigned from her head coaching position at NCAA Division III Texas Luthern University to follow the path back to Oklahoma.
She spent the past four years at TLU, compiling a 34-65 overall record.
In her first season (2008) at TLU, Long inherited a team coming off an 0-25 campaign.
TLU — with Long — won seven games in 2008-09. The one-year improvement was the 11th best turn-around in NCAA Division III for that season.
During the 2008-09 season, Long was named the American Southwest Conference Co-Coach of the Year and produced the best winning percentage an any TLU women’s basketball coach in the NCAA Division III era.
Then, in 2009-10, Long continued to improve the TLU program, going 12-12 overall and 11-10 in the ASC.
In the four years prior to Long’s arrival at TLU in Seguin (Texas), the Bulldogs won only 15 games.
RSU athletic director Ryan Bradley said that “Long was the unanimous choice and perfect 10 out of 10 on a list of traits that we were looking for in the next coach.”
Those traits being that Bradley and his committee wanted someone with character and integrity, someone that cared about the student-athletes beyond the basketball court and someone with a strong work ethic.
“We feel like Roxanne has all of those qualities,” Bradley said. “She’s more than X’s and O’s and wins and losses. She’s smart, tough, caring and she devotes herself to ensuring that her student-athletes succeed on the court and in the classroom.
“I have no doubt that Coach Long will continue to build upon the strong foundation that has been established with Hillcat women’s basketball.”
Bobby Cope, an long-time assistant coach under former head coach Amy Williams, has agreed to stay on Long’s staff and continue the Lady ‘Cats chase toward a NAIA Division I national title.
“I almost consider myself as a guidebook for Roxanne, helping her with the decisions away from the court,” Cope said.
“Her resume speaks for itself. She knows how to coach and is so energetic that the girls will enjoy playing for her.”
Cope also stated that Long is goal-oriented and knows what she wants.
Logan Froese, a former Claremore Lady Zebra All-State standout and soon-to-be senior post on the Hillcats in the fall, believes that RSU made the right choice in Long.
“Coach Long seems to be just what we need. Definitely a good move for us,” Froese said. “From the players standpoint, it’s a big relief to finally have a coach and not have to worry anymore.”
Long, who played for Oklahoma from 1994-1998, said the RSU program is already in good shape and will only get better.
“The leadership on campus with Dr. (Larry) Rice and athletic director Ryan Bradley is first class and top notch,” Long said. “You can just fill the excitement and energy when you talk to people on campus. I can’t wait to get started and become part of this family.”
Prior to coaching at TLU, Long spent eight years as a varsity head coach at the high school ranks in Texas. She spent five years (2003-2008) at Central High School in Keller, where she was a Texas Basketball Coaches Association finalist for state coach of the year. She was named the district coach of the year in 2007. Long’s team at Central reached the postseason on three occasions and enjoyed two 20-win seasons.
From 2000-2003, Long was the varsity head coach at Diamond Hill High School in Fort Worth, where she turned a 0-25 program around and led the team to its first playoff appearance.
Bradley said that Long will bring tenacity and toughness to the RSU women’s basketball program.
“She embraces challenges of being great and the bar is going to be set high for her to continue the success we have built under Amy Williams,” Bradley added.
The daughter of longtime legendary college football coach Rocky Long, RSU’s new women’s basketball coach said she is thankful for Ryan Bradley placing the faith in her to take this program to the next step.
“It’s inspiring to see the vision and leadership that Ryan and his staff have on RSU athletics,” Long said. “The foundation that Coach Williams set is good, really good. I can’t think of a more perfect place to take over a program.”
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“Roxanne Long is a tremendous competitor. As a collegiate player, she welcomed challenges, meeting all with a relentless work ethic and a steely determination. I am certain that those same traits will be evident from her on the sideline and from her team on the floor at Rogers State.” — Sherri Coale, Oklahoma Sooners head women’s basketball coach
“Roxanne Long is a slam dunk hire for Rogers State. She is always looking for a new challenge and I think RSU will be a great fit for her. I have nothing but high praise for Roxanne. She is not only a creative, hard-working coach but also a great person.” — Jerry Finkbeiner, former ORU and current Utah State head women’s basketball coach