BATESVILLE, Ark. – Over the course of the last several years, basketball has become instilled in the lives of some former Lyon College women's basketball players. Besides wearing the Navy and Crimson colored jersey during their time at Lyon, eight former student-athletes who played under head coach Tracy Stewart-Lange, have taken another step forward in the sport. Under the tutelage of Lange, they have become leaders and teachers, coaching their own basketball teams.
Hollye (Jernigan) Brooksher, Nikki (Baker) Amos, Ashley (Waller) Harper, Lauren Ramsey, Maribeth (Waters) Richards, Chris Smith, Gabriela Martins and Taylor Gaedtke all played at Lyon under the helm of Stewart-Lange dating back to 2005.
Ramsey, Smith, Martins and Gaedtke also played on the team when the Scots began their current streak of six straight NAIA National Tournament appearances.
These eight individuals are now showcasing their knowledge of the game, to younger individuals as head or assistant coaches at the high school and collegiate levels.
Hollye (Jernigan) Brooksher (2007-09)
Brooksher (pictured right) played at Lyon College from 2007-2009. The McAlester, Oklahoma native is now in her fifth year as the head coach at Mounds High School in Mounds, Okla.
Brooksher said that her interest in coaching was influenced by her time at Lyon.
"Seeing how Coach Lange ran our practices everyday helped me realize that I wanted to do that with high school girls," Brooksher said. "It was the next best thing to playing basketball."
This past season, Brooksher led Mounds High School to three tournament titles at the Davenport, Mounds Invitational and Afton Tournaments.
She said while playing basketball for the Scots, work ethic and communication helped her get to where she is today.
"Being a student-athlete at Lyon, if you're not on top of things you won't do well," Brooksher said. "As teammates we had to communicate with each other a lot. Coach Lange and coach (Julie) Church wanted to get the best out of each of us. They became my second family since I lived so far away from home."
Brooksher said if she had any advice to incoming student-athletes at Lyon it would be:
"Even if you don't think your coaches are correct, they are," Brooksher said. "Don't take the time you play the game for granted."
Nikki (Baker) Amos (2004-08)
Amos (pictured below) played at Lyon College from 2004-08 under Coach Lange. Amos is now the assistant girls' basketball coach at Cave City High School in Cave City, Arkansas.
She said she knew she wanted to coach basketball when she was in high school.
"Playing the sport made my interest a little stronger and I continued from there," Amos said.
While Amos has been at Cave City, the Cave women claimed a district regular season and tournament championship in 2010-11. They were also conference co-champions in 2015-16 and made a regional tournament appearance. Last season, Cave City was the district tournament runner-up and made a regional tournament appearance.
They also won the Lyon College women's Invitational tournament in 2013-14.
Amos said she learned a lot while playing as a Scot at Lyon College.
"I learned about the value of dedication it takes to be a player," Amos said. "As a coach I know how much work players put into it so you have a greater respect for your players by knowing how much dedication it takes.
"Coach Lange and Coach Church taught me a lot about perseverance and working through obstacles to become a better player and person. We had challenges of guarding someone who may have been a better athlete and the coaches gave us the confidence in completing the task."
Amos said the one thing she misses about playing basketball at Lyon is the family atmosphere. If she had any advice for an incoming student-athlete at Lyon, it would be to make friends.
"The friendships and comradery you build with your teammates will last a lifetime," Amos said. "While coaching you don't realize the impact you have on the players' lives. It's the best thing to see how you can affect the players' ability to play."
Ashley (Waller) Harper (2006-10)
Harper (pictured below) played basketball at Lyon from 2006-10, and is now the assistant coach at Pocahontas High School in Pocahontas, Arkansas. She has been there for five years.
Harper's interest in coaching was sparked by helping out during summer camps at Lyon.
"The support I had from Coach Lange and Coach Church made me realize that I wanted to do the same for other kids," Harper said.
Just recently, the Pocahontas girls' basketball team claimed the 4A state tournament title after posting a 32-3 overall record during the 2016-17 season. The team also graduated five seniors, including one who will attend Arkansas State University in the fall.
While playing at Lyon, Harper said she learned a lot about the fundamentals that helped her want to continue the sport as a coach.
"The coaches taught us as freshmen on how to play in their system," Harper said. "Each year it grew into more and more fundamentals and we got to teach the freshmen as we got older. There was so much knowledge planted in front of us.
"Now as a coach, you get different types of leaders on your team. Some players who don't play as much gave what they had every day and when they went into the game, they knew their role."
Harper said while playing at Lyon they had a lot of opportunities to travel.
"We got to go on some pretty cool trips and a lot of the people that I played with now coach," Harper said. "We will sometimes call each other for scouting reports and it's neat to have those connections that you can rely on."
Harper said any incoming student-athlete at Lyon should learn to buy into the program.
"Coach Lange and Coach Church always had a purpose behind everything they taught," Harper said. "As exhausting as it can be you will miss it when you're done completing it."
Lauren Ramsey (2008-12) (Photo by Dwain Hebda Arkansas Catholic Newspaper)
Lauren Ramsey (pictured below right) was a student-athlete at Lyon from 2008-12, and just finished her fifth year overall (first year overall as head coach) at Mount Saint Mary's Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Ramsey said she was not ready to give up her passion for basketball after college.
"It had been my whole life when I was at Lyon," Ramsey said. "I had the opportunity to go back to my old high school and continue to coach and it was great."
While coaching at Mount Saint Mary's Academy, Ramsey has improved the team from going 4-20 in 2015-16, to a 10-18 record in 2016-17. She also led them to the state tournament for the first time since 2006.
Ramsey said while at Lyon she learned about the mental toughness and coming together as a family is important.
She also said that Coach Lange and Coach Church were great role models for how she coaches now.
"They are the best coaches out there and everything we did in practice I do now," Ramsey said. "They always did a good job of breaking things down and explaining things to us so you fully understand it."
Ramsey also said that playing basketball at Lyon made her and all of her teammates closer. If she could pass along any advice to incoming athletes at Lyon it would be to fight through every challenge.
"It's not always going to be the easiest or most fun thing as you have to do things you don't want to do," Ramsey said. "But in the end it's the best thing if you want to succeed. If you listen to Coach Lange and Coach Church it will help you become successful for the rest of your life."
Maribeth Waters Richards (2005-09)
Maribeth Waters Richards (pictured below) played for the Lyon women's basketball team from 2005-09, and has been the head coach at Lake Hamilton High School in Pearcy, Arkansas the last four years.
Richards has been a part of basketball since she was in fifth or sixth grade. With her father being a coach, she knew she wanted to continue to be a part of the sport down the road.
"He coached during my senior year of high school and I've always been interested in it as it's something I wanted to do," Richards said.
After playing at Lyon, Richards was able to continue in basketball as the coach at Lake Hamilton. This past season, she guided Lake Hamilton to the Central Arkansas Junior High School Conference Tournament championship.
While playing at Lyon, Richards said she learned a lot about the team concept.
"It's all about the team instead of one person," Richards said. "It's been an important part of coaching. Coach Lange and Coach Church are really good mentors and they helped me learn the game and be able to teach it to students who don't really know that much about it."
Richards also said that playing at Lyon was a family atmosphere.
"I really miss the team camaraderie and we were all like sisters," Richards said. "The overnight trips were apparent where everyone had a bond with somebody."
Christine Smith (2009-13)
Christine Smith (pictured right) was a member of the Scots' women's basketball program from 2009-13. She just completed her first year as the head coach at Ramay Junior High School in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
After playing at Lyon, Smith was unsure if she wanted to continue as a coach, but after reconsidering she jumped back in.
"It wasn't something I had thought about," Smith said. "Once basketball was over I asked Coach Lange what the best route would be and she told me to go for it."
From there she took on a one-year stint helping out Coach Lange and Coach Church on the sideline at games.
"I got to see the coaching and administrative side of it and it was fun to see how it all worked in those areas," Smith said.
At first as a player, Smith said she did not know how important the defensive side of basketball was, but said she learned a lot about it and how important it was during her time at Lyon.
"You're always so offensive minded all the time, but once you bring the other side of basketball into it, it becomes a lot easier."
Smith said any student-athlete who comes to play at Lyon should understand that you have to be coachable.
"More than anything it's the controllable factors like effort and skills that you have to build on," Smith said. "You have to have the willingness to do things that nobody else wants to do."
Gabriela Martins (2014-16)
Gabriela Martins (pictured below) was on the women's basketball team from 2014-16, before going on to graduate school at Southern Arkansas University.
Martins said Coach Lange played a big influence on her to coach basketball after playing.
"I had the huge learning experience between my junior and senior year and Tracy influenced me to become a leader," Martins said. "You like living the dream of playing at the collegiate level and all of my experiences at Lyon have helped me to share it with other students."
Leadership was one of Martins' strong points when she was the point guard for the Scots' basketball program for two straight years. She said leaders are people who can keep the team together to accomplish one goal.
"It was all about how we are going to go out and get this done," Martins said. "We were unique and on a mission when we ended up winning the conference tournament championship my senior year. I try to share all of those kinds of experiences with the girls I am around now."
Martins said that every player should listen to their coach and put as much effort into competing every day.
"Even if you get frustrated do it as best you can," Martins said. "Everything I did on my own at Lyon helped me to get better and coming from the position of being an athlete to a coach it is a different philosophy."
Taylor Gaedtke (2013-16)
Gaedtke (pictured below right) was a member of the Scots from 2013-16, and just finished her first year as the head coach at Harvest Christian Academy in Fort Worth, Texas. Gaedtke said she has known she wanted to coach basketball since she was in high school.
"I have had a lot of good coaches and it made me realize that I wanted to be that light to help kids and show them a way out of sports," Gaedtke said.
In her first year at Harvest Christian, Gaedtke led the team to 10 wins, as it was the first time the team had won a game in three years. The team also finished one game shy of going to the playoffs.
Two of her players were also named to the All-District First Team, and one player received a college scholarship to North Central University.
Gaedtke's path to coaching was influenced heavily by playing at Lyon.
"My whole philosophy was to model myself after Coach Lange," Gaedtke said. "Based on our attitudes toward the players, offenses and defenses she helped inspire me to go after a head coaching job from the get go. Coach Lange and Coach Church also helped me develop the family atmosphere.
"When I got to Lyon Coach Lange took me under her wing and it helped me become who I am."
Gaedtke said as a student-athlete at Lyon, you should realize that you were recruited for a reason.
"Make sure that you take control of the opportunity that is given to you," Gaedtke said. "The same type of attitude helped us get all the way to the conference championship and win a ring my final year."
Lange said she hopes all of these former Scots know how much of a competitive lifestyle coaching basketball can be.
"Coaching is so rewarding but it is also a very challenging profession," Lange said. "I have no doubt all of these young ladies are using their experiences and leadership abilities to develop successful and strong young women. I am excited that they have chosen to share their love of the game of basketball so that while teaching the game, they can also help their players maximize their potential and prepare them for life."
Lange also said as a team, they have been blessed with a lot of talent and players who are committed to working hard everyday.
"During the process of building this program into a competitive, top program year in and year out, we have been blessed by some very talented young ladies," Lange said. "You need each other to be successful and from my perspective, I have an opportunity to hopefully lead and guide them at a very important point in their life. I don't take that lightly.
"I always hope that the lessons learned day in and day out through ups and downs, victories and losses, will translate into a preparation for what is to come in their lives. It's always exciting to hear what your former players are doing in their lives and you hope that what you are teaching in your program will prepare them to go out and become strong, young women who have an understanding of what it takes to be successful and become leaders in their chosen field. But it is certainly special when they have a passion for the game to the extent that they want to continue to share through coaching."