Decatur native Betsy Harris has been named the new head coach for the East Central Community College Lady Warrior basketball team. Harris has amassed a stellar career as a player and coach over the past 30-plus years.
"We are so excited to have Betsy Harris return home to Decatur to lead our women's basketball program," said ECCC President Dr. Brent Gregory. "She has great ties to the local community and our district and brings a plethora of experience, both as a player and a coach, to our program. We are looking forward to the success that she will bring our student-athletes in all areas of competition."
Harris comes to ECCC after an eight-year stint with the Florida Southern Moccasins in Lakeland, Fla. During her tenure, she led the Moccasins to a 169-63 record including six consecutive NCAA DII Tournament appearances, including an Elite Eight run in 2015. Along with tournament appearances, the Moccasins won back-to-back Sunshine State Conference regular-season and tournament titles, climbed to as high as No. 6 in the WBCA Coaches Poll, and earned the No. 1 seed in the NCAA South Regional Tournament during the 2018-19 season.
"Betsy Harris is someone who I have known since we were both in college together in the SEC. I have followed her career closely over the years and am absolutely thrilled that she has decided to lead our program," said East Central Director of Athletics Paul Nixon. "She has been a winner at every level as both a player and coach. Our Lady Warriors will have a great role model who will continue our athletics philosophy in helping them to grow into the best young women they can be on and off the court. Her record of player development and overall team success is truly outstanding, and I cannot wait for her to get started."
Harris' teams have historically lit up the scoreboard with her Florida Southern teams ranking top-50 nationally in scoring on multiple occasions, including ranking 18th nationally in 2018-19 with over 77 points per game. Her efforts as a coach have landed Harris Women's Basketball Coaching Association (WBCA) South Region Coach of the Year in 2018-19, and Sunshine State Conference (SSC) Coach of the Year honors on three occasions (2015-16, 2017-18, 2018-19).
Prior to her historic tenure at Florida Southern, Harris spent three seasons as the head coach at College Coastal Georgia, an NAIA program. She led the Mariners to a 68-27 record and was the first coach in the school history to qualify a team for the NAIA National Tournament after a 24-9 season in 2012-13.
Harris got into coaching as an assistant coach at the University of West Alabama where she served for two seasons (1999-01). She also made stops at Troy (2001-02) and here at East Central (2002-03) before returning to West Alabama for seven seasons from 2003-10. She also spent one season at Meridian Community College (2010-11) prior to taking the position at Coastal Georgia.
As a player at Decatur High School, Harris was an all-state player and led the Warriors to their first-ever Mississippi Class 2-A state championship in 1990 before moving on to the University of Alabama where she was a standout player for the Crimson Tide. She helped lead Alabama to three-straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including a Final Four showing in 1994. She was selected Second-Team All-SEC, earned MVP honors at the NCAA Midwest Regional, and was named to the Final Four all-tournament team.
While at Alabama, Harris set the school record for three-pointers with 272, tied for most threes in one game with eight, has the top two single-season records for three-pointers made, and ranks seventh in career scoring with 1,519 points. During her seasons she was nominated for the Wade Trophy, given to the Division I player of the year and she participated in trials for the U.S. National Team.
"This is an awesome hire for the East Central Community College women's basketball program. Betsy is a proven winner and is held in such high regard as a player and alum at the University of Alabama," said current Alabama Crimson Tide Head Women's Basketball Coach Kristy Curry. "She is a great teacher of the game, a relentless recruiter, and will make such a difference in the lives of her student-athletes on and off the court on a daily basis. I know she is excited to be back in her home state and she will have an immediate and positive impact on the East Central Warrior Athletics Department."
Upon her graduation from Alabama, she continued her playing career for four seasons with teams in Greece, Iceland, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. Harris graduated from Alabama with a bachelor's degree in sports management in 1995 and her master's degree in teaching from West Alabama in 2001.
"When I was given the opportunity to coach in my hometown by Mr. Nixon and Dr. Gregory I knew it was one I could not pass up," said Harris. "East Central women's basketball program has had several successful teams and I hope to continue that success with the young ladies this upcoming season. The area is rich with talent and the high school coaches are proven winners. I look forward to working with them and with my new East Central family. I'd like to thank Mr. Nixon and Dr. Gregory for bringing me back home to share my passion with my loved ones and with the Warrior faithful."