During the October 30, 2013 Rotary weekly meeting, Regina Tisdale, wife of the late Wayman Tisdale, chairperson for the Wayman L. Tisdale Foundation, Inc. and advisory board member of Access Sports/Wayman Tisdale Award, announced this year’s keynote speaker of the Henry P. Iba Citizen Athlete Awards will be Sherri Coale, The University of Oklahoma women’s head basketball coach.
In her eighteenth season as head coach of The University of Oklahoma women’s basketball team, Sherri Coale is considered one of the top collegiate coaches in the nation. A native of Healdton, Oklahoma, Coale spent her collegiate career playing for Oklahoma Christian University’s basketball team where she was an Academic All-American and graduated summa cum laude.
She began her head-coaching career at Norman High School in Oklahoma. During her tenure, the Norman Tigers amassed a record of 147-40, including two state championships. After seven years and amazing success at the high school level, Coach Coale accepted the top coaching position at Oklahoma in 1996.
Coach Coale turned a struggling program into a national title contender in a short period of time. Since 1996, the Sooners have won six regular season Big 12 titles, four Big 12 tournament titles and made 14 straight appearances in the NCAA tournament advancing to the Sweet Sixteen or beyond 9 out of those14 appearances. Coach Coale and the 2001-2002 Sooners became the first Big 12 Conference team to advance to the NCAA Final Four, appearing in the National Championship game. In 2005-06 Coale’s team had an unprecedented and historic 19-0 run through the Big 12 Conference regular season and Big 12 Conference Tournament winning both titles. Coale’s greatest accomplishment came in 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 as she led the Sooners to back-to-back NCAA Final Four appearances. A first in program history, the Sooners are one of only eleven teams in NCAA history to accomplish this feat.
She has been recognized nationally for her achievements by serving as the head coach for Team USA at the 2013 World University Games in Kazan, Russia. The Coale led team earned the Gold medal by defeating Russia on their home floor in the championship game. She also served as an assistant coach on the 2001 USA Basketball Women’s Junior World Championship Team that won a bronze medal in Brno, Czech Republic, in July 2001. Coale also received accolades by being named ESPN “The Dish” Coach of the Year in 2002 and Big 12 Coach of the Year in 2000, 2001, 2006 and 2009.
One of the most respected coaches in NCAA Division 1 basketball, Coale served as President of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association from 2007-2009.
Coale was recently the recipient of the 2011 United Nations NGO Positive Peace Award in the coaching category for her commitment to community involvement, the 2011 Abe Lemons/Paul Hansen Award for Sports Excellence and the 2012 World Neighbors/KFOR Dignity Award.
Her goals have always been to maximize the potential of her players and team on and off the court by encouraging excellence in the classroom and service in the community.