SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – New UC Santa Barbara women's basketball head coach Carlene Mitchell has moved quickly to assemble her coaching staff, hiring a pair of highly-regarded assistants whom she used to coach at Rutgers.
Mitchell, who was hired last week after coaching 10 seasons at Rutgers, has named Courtney Locke as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator and has hired Heather Zurich as another assistant. Mitchell recruited both new Gaucho coaches to play at Rutgers.
"In developing my staff I wanted to work with people who were not only very talented, but people I am familiar with and I achieved both of those things with Courtney and Heather," Mitchell said. "Having had the opportunity to see these young women grow while they played at Rutgers and now flourish in their coaching careers made it an easy choice for me to add them to my staff here at UCSB."
Locke comes from the University of Central Florida where she has coached the previous three years. Locke, who played at Rutgers from 2002-06, has also coached at the University of Texas-San Antonio.
"Carlene recruited me to Rutgers and to join her on the new staff and in her first head coaching job is an honor," Locke said. "I'm excited to come out there and do great things. To be able to work with someone that I trust, that I believe in, and with someone whose work ethic is unbelievable, is something I'm very excited about."
As a player, Locke helped lead the Scarlet Knights to four NCAA Tournaments, including an Elite Eight spot in 2005 and a Sweet Sixteen in 2006. She played in 126 games for Rutgers and as a senior helped guide the squad to a 16-0 record in Big East play.
Zurich comes to UCSB from Wagner College, located in Staten Island, N.Y., where she coached this past season after playing professionally in the Netherlands.
"I'm excited to have this opportunity to work at UCSB," Zurich said. "I don't think there's anything better than working for a coach who recruited you and you played for four years and who you have a relationship with, like I have with Coach Mitchell. I'm ready to get out there and work hard and keep a winning tradition going. Coach Mitchell has told me a lot about the school and the community and I'm excited to get out there and get started."
She played at Rutgers from 2005-09 and was part of four Sweet Sixteen squads, two Elite Eight teams and a Final Four appearance, which included a spot in the national title game. As a senior Zurich served as team captain and was an All-Big East Academic Team selection.
"Our players are going to understand the level of winning that those two will bring, after both of them had successful runs deep into the NCAA Tournament," Mitchell said. "Not only were they great student-athletes, but they are going to be great in this community with their great personalities. They have a great amount of energy to give back to this team the way I feel I was able to give to them."