Olds Bows Out after Six Seasons as Women's Basketball Coach
Alum to Coach Final Game for the Lions against Barry on Saturday
SAINT LEO, Fla. – "The Lord will place upon your heart when it's time to go, and I now know that time has come for me."
Just as she did when stepping off the court for the final time as a Saint Leo player in 1998, Chanita Olds feels that she has given everything she can to her alma mater as she has announced that she will resign her position as women's basketball coach at the end of the 2010-11 season. The announcement came on Thursday night after Olds met with her team following practice in preparation for their Senior Day contest with Barry.
"I walk out this door, and this part of my life, just like I walked out as a player in 1998," Olds said. "I am forever grateful for what Saint Leo has given me and it really saddens me to leave. I feel like I've done so much trying to bring this program from what it was when I took over in 2005 to where it is now. I am proud that I did something many said couldn't be done when I decided to come to Saint Leo and I am thankful to (Saint Leo University President) Dr. Kirk, (Director of Athletics) Fran Reidy and those in the Athletic Department who believed in me."
After graduating from then-Saint Leo College in 1998, Olds walked back into the Marion Bowman Activities Center on August 1, 2005 where she was greeted with a dismal program that had lost its identity, along with 68 games in the three previous seasons. She spent countless hours rebuilding Saint Leo Women's Basketball from its foundation, finishing with over 60 wins during her time in the head chair.
While this season may not have panned out as many had hoped, the Lions will look to claim their fourth-straight double-digit win season as they are currently 9-17. With one game remaining at Saint Leo, Olds currently holds a 61-103 overall record.
"While the overall record may not reflect it, Coach Olds has left the program in a better position than when she took over," Athletic Director Fran Reidy said after learning of Olds' desired departure. "She matched the record for conference wins in a season three times during her six seasons. She brought a passion for Saint Leo and her job to work every day."
Facing the daunting task of taking the reins of a program that won two games in its previous two seasons, Olds was undaunted, taking the job solely on faith because of her love for the place she called home during her playing career. Starting her SLU coaching career with nine and six-win years in 2005-06 and 2006-07, Olds has broken into double-digits wins every year since, with a win over Barry on Saturday, she will become the only coach to mark four consecutive 10-plus win seasons.
"My wins, both on and off the court, outweigh my losses when you look at the big picture of what I have tried to accomplish here," Olds continued. "The hard work has been done, the foundation laid; now it's time for me to pass the baton and to move on."
"Chanita brought alumni back into the fold, improved the academic performance of the team, and raised the overall profile of the program after inheriting a team which had gone 2-53 before she arrived," Reidy said, reinforcing the transformation Olds has sparked.
Not done with coaching, the Graceville, Fla. native will rely on her faith and past experiences to help guide her to her next career stop.
Olds continued, "I have a passion for this game like no other, and coaching continues to bring me joy and peace, through the good times and the bad. It's my duty to pay it forward; taking what this place has taught me into another program. Even though I'm leaving I will always bleed Green and Gold. I will continue to visit my alma mater, support all of our teams and hold my head high as a proud alum."
Saying farewell to one of their own, Saint Leo will now begin the search for the 11th women's basketball coach in the program's 35-year history.
"We will have Alden and Associates lead the search for our new women's coach, just like we have for our men's search," Reidy said, referring to the dual openings in both basketball programs at Saint Leo, both announced this week. "We hope to begin interviews by mid-March and have a coach in place by early April."
Olds will guide the Lions one last time as their head coach on Saturday afternoon when Saint Leo plays their final game of the season on Senior Day at home against Barry University.
Olds added one final piece about her soon-to-be former program, "The future is very positive for what Saint Leo women's basketball will become."