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UTEP welcomes back head coach Keitha Adams

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela
Senter gives Adams a novelty UTEP Miners basketball jersey in commemoration of Adams’ return.

Shortly after the departure of former women’s basketball Coach Kevin Baker, UTEP found its leader in former Head Coach Keitha Adams. Adams served as coach for the women’s basketball team from 2001 to 2017. UTEP Athletics commemorated Adams’ return to the Orange and Blue, Wednesday, April 12, at the brand-new Gordon Family Courtside Club located inside the Don Haskins Center.  

The welcoming event started off with a few words and introductions from UTEP Athletics heads along with UTEP President Heather Wilson, Ph.D.  

“You know, hiring coaches, that is a heck of a lot different than hiring faculty,” Wilson said. “It is my pleasure to announce to the city of El Paso that coach Keitha Adams is back.”  

UTEP Athletics Director and Vice President Jim Senter had a few words about outgoing coach Kevin Baker, but assured the crowd the team intends to move forward with Adams at the helm.  

“I would be remiss if I didn’t say thank you to coach Kevin Baker and the staff that have been here and the great job that they’ve done,” Senter said. “It’s important that we’re competitive, but we want to graduate our student-athletes and we want to have a great experience. I appreciate the fact that she has competed and won championships at every stop that she’s ever coached at, but even more so when she said, ‘Jim, we’re going to do it again,’ that’s really special.”  

Coach Adams then took the podium to reintroduce herself to the El Paso basketball community. Adams also took the chance to recognize two of her greatest role models.  

“I’m very excited to be back here as your head women’s basketball coach at the greatest basketball venue, the Don Haskins Center,” Adams said. “My dad is in heaven and he’s up there right now with Coach (Don) Haskins and they’re having a shot of whiskey celebrating that I’m back here and being a Miner again.”  

Adams would go onto bring up both current and past players she has coached at UTEP including Aisha Stewart, a former player under Adams at Independence Community College. Stewart now coaches at NMSU after bouncing around several other basketball programs. Natasha Lacy, Kayla Thornton and Sparkle Taylor have all had successful professional careers after playing under Adams.   

“We have lawyers, teachers, administrators, coaches at all levels, businesswomen, WNBA Pro players, police officers, counselors, children’s books, authors, poetry authors, a shoe designer at Nike, and the list goes on and on,” Adams said. “So, I say to the current UTEP players, we want to develop, we want to help you grow and flourish to where once you leave our program, you’re successful.”  

After the press conference, Senter laid out the tedious process of hiring a head coach.  

“When Baker resigned, I think there were nine Division One women’s basketball jobs and we became number 10,” Senter said. “So, you just start vetting and you get inundated with calls from agents, with coaches wanting to nominate other coaches. So, you just have to start sorting through all of it and try to see what makes sense. We did have a really strong internal candidate and that’s one of the things you constantly balance. So, it just it just goes a lot quicker than most people realize.”  

The committee tasked with finding a replacement for Baker consisted of Senior Associate Athletic Directors Jeff Darby of External Relations, Danny Garcia of Business, Finance and Facilities, Julie Levesque of Title IX, Charlie Thrash of Revenue Generation and Tayler Vena Harrell of Compliance.  

Sophomore guard Veonce Powell expressed her excitement about playing under Adams as she has not been able to play at UTEP due to a season ending injury.  

“I feel like change happens everywhere,” Powell said. “For me, coming off injury, I didn’t really play this season. I’m excited to have a meeting with (Adams) and we’re just going to talk.”  

Adams herself urged fans to fill the Don Haskins this upcoming 2023-2024 season.  

“I’m honored and thrilled to be back,” Adams said. “Our team is going to have some fun. We’re going to play up tempo and fans are going to be a key part of this. We need them here that’s going to help us. Players feed off the fans and then the fans feed off the players, so just understand that you’re needed, and we can get a magical connection going on in (the Don Haskins).”  

A schedule for the upcoming season has not been released at the moment, but as conference alignments change, the team sounds ready to compete. 

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela Armendariz is the sports editor and may be reached at [email protected]: @rivasemmanuel2 on Instagram 

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About the Contributor
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela, Contributor/Writer
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is a contributor for The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in multimedia journalism with minors in political science and Chicano studies. Emmanuel served as sports editor at The Prospector and as a writer with Minero Magazine. Now, Emmanuel is interning at El Paso Matters and is a contributor at The Prospector.
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UTEP welcomes back head coach Keitha Adams