MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Huntingdon College women's basketball program will continue under the direction of a familiar face.
Former player and assistant coach Paige Huff will continue as the Lady Hawks' head coach. Huff, who was named interim head coach at the beginning of this season, was officially named the new head coach this week.
President J. Cameron West and athletic director Mike Turk made the announcement on Thursday.
"Coach Huff has been an asset to the Huntingdon women's basketball program since her own playing days," West said. "As the assistant coach and interim head coach, we have seen in her a special passion for the game and the leadership qualities necessary to succeed as a coach.
"To see her come full circle and accept the role as head coach for the team is a testament to her abilities, to the opportunities available in Huntingdon athletics, and to our belief in her. She leads the team from the perspective of being in their shoes, and we are excited for the future of Huntingdon women's basketball under her leadership."
Huff is the eighth head coach in the 21-year history of the program. In her first season as head coach, she has guided Huntingdon to a 19-4 record. The 19 wins are tied for second most in a season by the Lady Hawks and the most by a first-year head coach in program history.
"Since becoming the athletic director six years ago, I have had the pleasure of hiring several excellent members of our coaching staff here at Huntingdon. I have never been more excited to announce a hire than I am for this one," Turk said. "Paige has been loyal to this program, has worked tirelessly over the years to help bring the program to where it is today, and deserves the opportunity to lead the program into the future. Simply put, Paige is a Hawk, and Huntingdon is fortunate to have someone like her to be our coach."
Huff replaces Buzz Phillips, who announced his retirement in November.
"Paige is well deserving of this. We had a lot of success together and I am sure it will continue under her reign," Phillips said. "When I hired her to be my assistant, I had the anticipation that she would follow me when I retired. I love Paige and she is like family to me. She has worked so hard and she has been very loyal to me and to this program."
A 2008 Huntingdon graduate, Huff was a two-year player, a team captain and an academic all-conference selection for the Lady Hawks. After coaching at the high school level for four seasons, she returned to Huntingdon as an assistant coach in 2012.
"I would like to thank President West and Coach Turk for the opportunity they have given me and the confidence they have shown in me," Huff said. "This program is special to me. To see where this program is today, it says a lot about the hard work and dedication of the players and coaches we've had here. My goal is to help this program continue to succeed."
During her six seasons as an assistant coach, the Lady Hawks won 93 games, reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time and won the program's first NCAA Tournament game. Included in those seasons were a 19-win season and the first 20-win season of the NCAA era.
With one game remaining in the regular season, Huff is pleased with what her team has accomplished this season. But there is still more this team wants to accomplish.
"This team has been through a lot this season and I'm proud of the way we have handled the adversity we have faced," Huff said. "This group has pulled together, leaned on each other and accomplished more than many people expected. We've continued to improve as the season has gone on and we want to keep working hard and playing our best as we move into the postseason."