Building a legacy: Woman’s basketball head coach reflects on 26 years

Upon entering women’s basketball head coach Lisa Stockton’s office, the first observation made is nothing is a hair out of place. In contrast to her job’s unpredictability, Stockton’s office reflects the personality traits players see in her.

Senior guard Leslie Vorpahl said she respects Stockton’s straightforward attitude and ability to connect with her team members.

“She gets her point across,” Vorpahl said. “She’s efficient in how she coaches.”

Stockton’s attitude toward her players is reflective of her long and ongoing tenure at Tulane. Since beginning her head coaching career in 1987, Stockton has spent 23 years at the helm for Tulane.

“I think you can come here and it’s a great city. It’s a city with tremendous culture that you can enjoy and it’s like no other place in the world,” Stockton said. “I think the university really does challenge you to be as good as you can be, and in that, I think our basketball program has gotten to the level that they can come here and be the basketball player they want to be.”

During college, Stockton played point guard for Wake Forest, where she still holds the record for consecutive games started at 97. After graduating cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in health and sports science, Stockton forwent a professional career to attend graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Upon graduating, she pursued a career in coaching and has never looked back.

Stockton became only the 32nd active women’s head coach in Division I history to earn 500 wins, reaching the mark in the 2014-15 season. When Tulane was still in Conference USA, Stockton became the conference’s winningest coach and earned C-USA coach of the year honors in the 2006-07 and 2009-10 seasons.

Stockton and her crew continue to roll in this year’s season. The team is currently 12-6 (3-2 American Athletic Conference). The team has outscored opponents 1208 to 1113 so far this season. Even when facing challenging competition, the team took down opponents like North Carolina State University (14,-5, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) and Auburn University (13-5, 3-1 Southeastern Conference).

Stockton is no stranger to winning seasons. Throughout her tenure with the Wave, only three seasons were below .500.

“The seasons that we didn’t have a winning season, we had lost so many [Women’s National Basketball Association] players off the roster … so that was a tough thing to rebound from,” Stockton said. “… We’ve had players that have come in here as four-year players that have really committed to being a part of our tradition.”

Stockton values success and instills this tradition in her players so that the team members will know what to expect from themselves.

“When we step on the floor, I think there’s a level of success that we strive for, and it’s postseason, it’s NCAA tournament, it’s championships,” Stockton said. “[The players] know that’s what our goal is every year, as opposed to coming in and trying to build.”

Even after her players graduate, she remains in contact with them, making it known they always have a place at Tulane.

“I think it’s been an advantage for us, for me to have been here as long as I have,” Stockton said. “The players that have graduated still feel like they have a home here.”

The team still has 11 regular season games left before the AAC championships, and then it will be time for March Madness, which the team has not missed for seven straight years.

“I want to get this team to the Sweet 16 … We’ve played in many NCAA tournaments, and we’ve won conference championships, but we’ve never made it to that level of the NCAA tournament,” Stockton said.

Stockton’s contract was extended through the 2021 season last October. The members of her staff and team have the ability to go above and beyond for many years to come, cementing themselves as legends of Tulane Athletics.

“I hope the players that have played for me got what they wanted from this experience,” Stockton said. “I hope they were able to enjoy the basketball and the collegiate experience when they played for me.”

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