UAFS women’s basketball coach Elena Lovato recently announced the hiring of former Alma standout Chanlee Bottoms as assistant coach.
Bottoms was an assistant coach at Pensacola (Fla.) State College this past season and prior to that was assistant coach at St. Mary’s University for four seasons.
It is a homecoming of sorts for Bottoms, a native of Alma, Ark. Her aunt, Jo Bottoms, was the Lady Lions’ second head coach, and Bottoms also played for the Lady Lions for two seasons.
"It was a no-brainer for me to bring Coach Bottoms home. Chanlee bleeds blue," Lovato said. "It is a tremendous blessing not only for me and my girls but for the athletic department and the university. She is an ambassador for all things UAFS. This hometown hero is a walking ball of energy."
Bottoms helped lead the Lady Lions to the 2006 NJCAA Region II tournament title and a berth in the 2006 NJCAA national tournament, during which the Lady Lions finished seventh in the nation and won the consolation championship.
She averaged 13 points, four assists and two steals per game as a sophomore while leading the Lady Lions to an 18-12 record.
Bottoms finished her collegiate playing career at Henderson State. During her two seasons there, Bottoms, a point guard, averaged 12.1 points, 2.2 assists and 2.2 steals per game. As a senior, she led the Lady Reddies in scoring (12.3 ppg), assists (67), steals (61), 3-point field goals made (42) and attempted (156), free throws made (82) and attempted (101).
She returned to UAFS as a graduate assistant for two seasons before becoming an assistant coach at St. Mary’s, where she served on the staff of Lady Rattlers coach Jason Martens. This past season, Bottoms served as assistant coach on the staff of Pensacola State College coach Penny Jones.
"Having the opportunity to return and coach where I played and is one of the best feelings in the world," Bottoms said. "I am a product of Lady Lions basketball, and I can’t wait to invest in and help change the lives of future Lady Lions. I owe it to my sisterhood of teammates to do the very best I can do."
Bottoms said she is excited to be a part of Lovato’s coaching staff. Lovato, a former assistant coach at NCAA Division I Mississippi State and former head coach at Trinity Valley Community College, begins her first season as Lady Lions coach.
"Coach Lovato is truly a blessing from above. Her energy and drive is incomparable. Our staff will be the most energetic, caring and tough-loving staff on the planet," Bottoms said. "I am honored to work alongside of her. Not only will she make me a better coach, but I will become a better person. I am grateful to her for giving me the opportunity."
Bottoms was a highly-decorated prep star at Alma, where she was a three-year letterman in basketball. She led the Airedalettes to a 24-6 record and the Class 5A state championship as a senior, averaging 18 points per game.
She was named All-Conference and All-State and was the MVP of the AHSCA All-Star Game and the Times Record All-Area Player of the Year.