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January 23, 2014

JUNIOR COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Lovato named New Mexico Coach of the year

Athens — Trinity Valley Community College head women’s basketball coach Elena Lovato has been named the 2013 Collegiate Coach of the Year by the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame.

Lovato will be presented the award on Sunday, Feb. 23 at the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame Banquet. Due to a scheduling conflict, she will be represented by her parents, Ernesto and Frances Lovato.

In her first full year at the helm of the Lady Cardinals in the 2012-13 season, Lovato, a native of Albuquerque, NM, guided TVCC to the NJCAA championship, which capped a 36-1 season (36-0 on the court).

The title was the second straight for the Lady Cardinals and seventh overall.

Lovato is in her second tenure at TVCC. She served as an assistant coach in the 2009-10 season, serving as interim head coach the last 11 games.

She was 9-2 and led the Lady Cardinals to a Region XIV Tournament championship and national tournament berth.

She spent the 2010-11 season as head coach at Grayson County Community College, leading the Lady Vikings to a 32-4 record and fifth-place finish at the national tournament.

After spending the 2011-12 season as an assistant coach at the University of Nebraska –Omaha, she returned to TVCC.

Lovato and the Lady Cardinals are currently ranked No. 1 nationally with an 18-1 record.

She is 95-8 as a head coach (63-4 at TVCC) going into Wednesday night’s game at home against San Jacinto.

Before arriving at TVCC for her first tenure, she was an assistant at the University of Houston on Joe Curl’s staff in 2008-09. Prior to Houston, Lovato spent one season as a graduate assistant at Pittsburg State, in Pittsburg, Kan.

In addition to her experience at the collegiate level, Lovato also has coached at the high school level, serving as the head junior varsity and assistant varsity coach at Buffalo High School in Buffalo, Mo.

While coaching at BHS, she also spent one year as a physical education teacher at Buffalo Prairie Middle School, earning 2007 Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year honors.

She also has coached and taught at Menaul High School in her hometown of Albuquerque, where she served as interim head girls’ basketball coach as well as assistant boys' coach.

Lovato also has an experience in sales, after working from December 2003 to March 2006 in private business.

As a player, Lovato started her collegiate career at West Texas A&M, where she played for two seasons (1997-99) before transferring to Missouri Southern State to play her final two seasons, earning team captain and MIAA Newcomer of the Year honors in 1999-2000.

Following her collegiate career, she played in the Puerto Rican Women's Pro Basketball League for two years. In 2001, she earned First-Team All-League honors, averaging 23 points and 10 rebounds per game. In 2002, she averaged 18 points and eight rebounds per game. In 2002, she also played for the Chicago Blaze of the National Women's Basketball League (NWBL).

Lovato received her bachelor's degree in university studies from Missouri Southern State in May 2005 and graduated from Pittsburg State with her master's degree in physical education in May 2008.

— TVCC Sports Information

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