Original article (Women’s Basketball Adds Elena Lovato To Coaching Staff) on the University of Texas’ athletic website texassports.com.
Texas Women’s Basketball head coach Vic Schaefer announced Friday the hiring of Elena Lovato, who will join his staff as the associate head coach.
Lovato returns for her second stint on the Forty Acres after spending the 2020-21 season with the Longhorns as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.
“It’s a great day for Texas women’s basketball in announcing the return of Elena Lovato as my associate head coach here at The University of Texas,” Schaefer said. “Coach Lovato and I have served together for many years, and we’ve had great success with our teams over the course of those seasons. Coach Lovato brings head coaching experience, she is a national champion, and she is well respected in our industry.
What is most Exciting for us is the impact she will have on our student athletes here at Texas. Her work ethic is second to none and her passion for the game and our student athletes will allow us to continue to pursue greatness and Championships here at Texas. Welcome back to the Forty acres Elena, our family has missed you”.
Including the 2020-21 season, Lovato has spent a total of five seasons as an assistant on Schaefer’s staff including two different stints during his tenure at Mississippi State.
In 2020-21, the Longhorns won 21 games and advanced to the Elite Eight during a magical run through the NCAA Tournament, that included a pair of upset victories over No. 3-seed UCLA and No. 2-seed Maryland.
Additionally, Lovato played a key role in bringing in Schaefer’s first recruiting class at UT which was rated as the No. 4 class in the country entering the 2021-22 season by espnW Hoop Gurlz which was highlighted by a tri of McDonalds All-Americans in Rori Harmon, Aaliyah Moore and Kendall Hunter.
During her time in Starkville, she helped recruit some of the top classes in Mississippi State history that went on to earn four consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament, including back-to-back national title game appearances, and collected the program’s first SEC Championship.
Most recently, she helped the Bulldogs ink the top signing class in program history, which was ranked No. 6 nationally by espnW Hoop Gurlz. Rickea Jackson, the fifth-ranked player in the country and Mississippi State’s first McDonald’s All-American, highlighted the group.
Between her two stints in Starkville, Lovato spent two years as the head coach at Arkansas-Fort Smith. At UAFS, she led the Lady Lions to a 37-24 overall record, including a 20-10 mark in the Heartland Conference. Her 2017-18 squad reached the 20-win mark and earned a spot in the NCAA Division II Tournament.
In Lovato’s first two seasons as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Mississippi State, the Bulldogs posted a 55-15 overall record and a 22-10 mark in the SEC. She helped Mississippi State to back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths, including the program’s first NCAA Sweet 16 appearance since 2010.
Prior to joining Mississippi State, Lovato was one of the top junior college coaches in the country, recording a 113-8 [.934] record in four seasons at the level. She spent the 2012-13 and 2013-14 campaigns at the helm of Trinity Valley Community College, where her teams posted a 72-2 mark and won the NJCAA National Championship in each of those seasons.
Lovato was named the NJCAA Division I Coach of the Year after her 2013-14 squad went 36-1 and claimed a second consecutive national title. The previous year’s team also went 36-1 en route to the national championship. Lovato mentored six NJCAA All-Americans at TVCC, including the 2014 WBCA Player of the Year Adut Bulgak.
Lovato served one season as an assistant coach at Omaha, an NCAA Division II program that was making the transition to Division I, and another as head coach at Grayson College in Denton, Texas.
At Grayson, Lovato took a program that finished 4-26 the previous year and led it to a 32-4 record, the NJCAA Region V Championship and a fifth-place national finish. She earned Coach of the Year accolades from the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, the North Texas College Athletic Conference and NJCAA Region V.
A year earlier, Lovato was an assistant coach at Trinity Valley Community College before being promoted to interim head coach for the final 11 games of the season. She led the Lady Cardinals to a 9-2 record and a sixth-place finish at the national tournament during that time.
Lovato was an assistant on Joe Curl’s Houston staff in 2008-09 and, before that, was a graduate assistant at Pittsburg State in Kansas. The Albuquerque, N.M., native also coached at the high school level following a stellar playing career.
Before embarking on her coaching career, Lovato played two seasons at West Texas A&M before transferring to Missouri Southern State, where she was named a team captain and MIAA Newcomer of the Year.
She went on to play professionally in the Puerto Rican Women’s Basketball League, earning First-Team All-League Honors after averaging 23 points and 10 rebounds in 2001. The following season, she averaged 18 points and eight rebounds. In 2002, she also played for the Chicago Blaze of the National Women’s Basketball League [NWBL].
Lovato earned her bachelor’s degree in university studies from Missouri Southern State in 2005 and her master’s degree in physical education from Pittsburg State in 2008.