MONTGOMERY, AL - Reed Sutton, who for the past three seasons has been the head coach at one of the most elite high school programs in the country, was introduced as the first women's basketball coach at Faulkner University Tuesday during an on-campus press conference.
Sutton, 37, led powerhouse Westbury Christian School in Houston to the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools Class 4A state championship and a No. 9 USA Today national ranking a year ago. The opportunity to start a program at the collegiate level in a Christian environment, he says, was too much to pass up.
"I am very grateful for the opportunity to start the women's basketball ministry at Faulkner University," said Sutton, who has experience at the collegiate level as an assistant coach. "It is a tremendous honor and blessing for my family to be chosen to lead the program from its infancy.
"We look forward to recruiting student-athletes that the campus community can take great pride in and the young female athletes in the River Region can look up to."
The Eagles will begin competing in the NAIA's Southern States Athletic Conference - the league in which the university is a member of for all sports but football - in the 2010-2011 season. Faulkner president Billy D. Hilyer believes the timing is right for Faulkner's venture into women's basketball.
"We've been considering it for several years now, and our students are really excited about it - especially our female students,'' Hilyer said. "We're looking forward to developing some good, friendly rivalries in the sport as well."
The search for the right coach to pilot the Eagles' women's basketball ship was an extensive one, Hilyer said. He's confident that Sutton is the perfect match for Faulkner, both athletically and spiritually.
"First and most importantly, I think coach Sutton has a deep commitment to the mission of Christian education," Hilyer said. "He has been extremely successful as the coach at one of the best high school programs in Texas, and in the country for that matter. Many of his players have gone on to play collegiate basketball at the highest levels so we obviously believe he has the ability to develop talent. Also, we feel he brings an administrative knowledge that will prove vital in starting a program."
Faulkner athletic director Brent Barker, who led the search committee to identify the new coach, said all signs throughout the process pointed to Sutton.
"We obviously conducted a national search, and at every turn it seemed it always came back to coach Sutton," Barker said. "I think he is a great fit for our athletic department staff and will do a wonderful job building this program the way we want it built."
Sutton is 90-13 in his three seasons as the head coach at Westbury Christian. Last year's state championship team was 43-1, while this season the Wildcats are 29-8 and play in the TAPPS Class 4A round of 16 Saturday. Sutton, who also serves as an assistant principal at Westbury, will finish the season before heading to Montgomery.
Sutton has on his resume assistant collegiate coaching stints at Grand Valley State, Michigan Christian and Lincoln Memorial. At all three stops Sutton earned valuable recruiting experience that allowed him to begin the development of his coaching philosophy.
"We plan on recruiting young ladies who will compete hard every time they hit the floor and the classroom, and who will strive to be servant leaders in the community," he said.
Sutton and Darla, his wife of 16 years, have four children - Marisa (12), Kylie (11), Braden (3) and Katlelyn (2).
Information Courtesy: Faulkner University