Auburn Women’s Basketball head coach Nell Fortner, in her sixth season as head coach, was named Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year and led her team to the SEC Championship last season with an overall record of 30-4 and 12-2 in the SEC.
“Winning the SEC Championship was something we worked hard on for many years and expected to achieve with all the seniors we had last year,” Fortner said. “The only reason I was named coach of the year was because I had a bunch of good players.”
Fortner has had three winning seasons in a row as head coach at Auburn since the 2006-2007 season. Her record is 101-57 in five seasons.
“It has been great to see the fan base and the importance of women’s basketball grow here at Auburn,” Fortner said. “I am looking forward to coaching in the new coliseum, and our goal is to win as many games as possible in order to make the NCAA tournament this year.”
The women’s basketball team is off to a good start with a 70-65 victory over Troy at home Friday night.
“Coach Fortner is a great coach to play under because she is experienced having coached at every level,” said Alli Smalley, junior shooting guard. “She (Fortner) is enthusiastic and a great motivator.”
Fortner is probably most famous for being an Olympic gold medal winner and leading the 2000 USA women’s basketball team to an overall record of 101-14, along with being named coach of the year that season.
Fortner became the head coach of the USA team in 1997 winning the 1998 FIBA World Championship, her first gold medal.
“I traveled around the world coaching and training that team for three years and we won the gold medal which was a great experience,” Fortner said.
Fortner’s past includes playing for University of Texas from 1978-1981, which led to her induction in the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.
“I would rather be playing instead of coaching, because being coach is stressful, but it was an easy transition from player to coach,” Fortner said.
Fortner coached three seasons in the WNBA for the Indiana Fever with an overall record of 42-56, including one playoff win in her time at that level.
“My career path is just the ladder I climbed,” Fortner said. “In my process, I started coaching at the high school level and just worked my way up.”
Fortner was also a TV analyst for ESPN from 2001 until her return to head coaching when she became the fifth head coach in Auburn Women’s Basketball history.
“Working for ESPN was fun,” Fortner said. “I was an analyst, so I just watched ball games and got to give my take on them.”
The women’s basketball team plays next at Temple University in Philadelphia at 6 p.m Tuesday.