San Antonio – Chanlee Bottoms’ coaching style directly mirrors her old playing style – fast-paced.
So, as the newest addition to St. Mary’s coaching staff, the one-time run-and-gun point guard has quickly discovered she should fit right in working alongside head women’s basketball coach Jason Martens.
Bottoms, a former student assistant at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, has been hired as St. Mary’s assistant women’s basketball coach, Martens announced this week.
“We’re both intense and energetic,” said Bottoms, a native of Alma, Ark., who replaces April Ponds as the Lady Rattlers’ assistant. “Even in the office, he’s intense. He’s always on the go and wants stuff done.”
Bottoms, 24, will serve as the St. Mary’s recruiting coordinator and will also be in charge of strength and conditioning, coaching the guards and monitoring academics.
Bottoms spent the past two seasons as the student assistant coach at UA Fort Smith, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership in May. With the Lady Lions, she was in charge of many of the areas she will oversee at St. Mary’s, monitoring academics, managing the strength and conditioning program and preparing practices. UA Fort Smith went 21-5 and posted an 11-1 record against Heartland Conference opponents last season.
Coaching at St. Mary’s will give Bottoms a chance to coach against her former coach and longtime mentor, UA Fort Smith coach Louis Whorton.
“I’m definitely excited to compete against him,” said Bottoms, who played for Whorton her first two years before transferring to Henderson State. “He’s like a father to me. But it will be weird. I’ll be his first player to go against him coaching.”
Bottoms, who plans to pursue her master’s degree at St. Mary’s, averaged 13 points, four assists and two steals as a sophomore before transferring to Henderson State to finish her career. She helped lead the Lady Lions to the 2006 NJCAA Region II tournament title and to the NJCAA national tournament.
At Henderson State, she averaged 12.1 points, 2.2 assists and 2.2 steals per game. In high school, she helped lead Alma High School to the Class 5A state championship as a senior, when she averaged 18 points per contest.
At St. Mary’s, Bottoms comes to yet another program with winning expectations, as the Lady Rattlers have won 20-plus games in three of Martens’ five seasons at the helm. St. Mary’s went 15-12 last season, advancing to the Heartland Conference semifinals.
“I’m coming from a program that has a lot of tradition,” said Bottoms, whose aunt Jo Bottoms, was the second coach in Lady Lions history. “It’s exciting to come to a program that has a lot of tradition.”
Not only on the court, but also off.
St. Mary’s University recently was one of six colleges and universities from across the country to receive this year’s prestigious Presidential Award, which is handed out annually by the Corporation for National and Community Service to recognize the top institutions in the nation for volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.
Bottoms knows all about civic engagement, having connected through a class project with the Reynolds Cancer Support House in Fort Smith, Ark., where she spent time counseling children. Being active in the surrounding community will be as important to Bottoms as winning games here at St. Mary’s.
“My girls (St. Mary’s players) will definitely be involved in the community,” Bottoms said. “It’s something that needs to be done, reaching out to the community.”