She is one of the most well known names in Texas when it comes to Women’s Basketball and her passion for education. And she is one of the top fifty Division one winningest coaches of all time by percentage according to the NCAA. We talk to former Lady Raider Basketball Coach Marsha Sharp.
Sharp says, “I think in any profession you choose, the most important thing is to gage your passion for it. Because if you’re not passionate about it, you’re not going to work hard enough to make it happen.” Former Lady Raiders Basketball Coach Marsha Sharp began her passion for Basketball in high school just up the road in Tulia. Then she carried it into college at Wayland Baptist. As a Flying Queen is where she says she found her desire to be a coach, “I was under Harley Reddin and Dean Weiss there. Which were both blessings for me because they are both in the hall of fame. They were great coaches and right there twenty-five miles from Tulia, and I got to kind of learn how to be a coach.”
Sharp begin her coaching career as the Head coach for the Lockney Lady Longhorns. Leading them to three district titles, “It was such a great start. I went to Lockney high school and had just a fabulous experience. I spent six years over there coaching high school kids. I had an amazing group around me.”
Coach Sharp came to Texas Tech as an assistant then moved up after a year as only the 4th head coach in Lady Raider history. From 1982 to 2006 Sharp had a record of 572 wins and 189 losses, which is a 75% winning record, “when you start with two hundred people in a gym to watch you play and go to thirteen thousand or whatever the last few years I coached. That’s just such a special thing to be a part of. To watch it grow and watch people build an appreciation for a women’s sport.” Her crowning moment was the 1992-1993 season where the Lady Raiders won the National Championship over Ohio State. Sharp says, “I don’t think there will ever be a substitute for winning a national title as far as being the highlight of your career. That’s really not something you can explain to someone who hasn’t had the opportunity to do it. It was just an amazing experience for me and particularly those kids.”
When coach Sharp retired in 2006, she had a 99% graduation rate for her athletes. She didn’t stay retired for long. She founded the Sharp Academy in 2008 then went back to Texas Tech as Associate Athletic Director in 2011. “Sharp Academy is an academy for dyslexic kids here in Lubbock. It’s an accredited high school. You can go there as young as you need to and graduate from there if you want. They’re brilliant and do great things. Most of the high school graduates are going off to college which really wasn’t an option for them before.”
Coach Sharp still enjoys watching games and especially loves watching her former players who are now coaching, “I love to watch their mentality on the bench and how hard they work with their players. And know how much of an impact you’re having on their lives. Basketball is a piece of it, but certainly the lasting impact that a coach can have is really special for me to watch them get to enjoy and create. It’s a really great thing.”
In 2018 Coach Sharp was inducted into the Wayland Baptist University Hall of Honor and earlier this month was inducted into the Texas Tech University Ring of Honor. She describes her career saying, “Really i think my career was just a series of special moments.”
Coach Sharp is such an asset to Texas Tech as a recruiter and cheerleader for the University. Something Coach Sharp said that stood out to me was what she said in 1993 to a packed Jones stadium after returning from winning a National Title, “They reached deep inside and took their game to a totally different level and they should be an example to all of us that if you have a great commitment, any dream you have can come true, even a National Championship.” We can all be anything we want to be if we are willing to work hard enough to achieve it.