Not Letting Success Go to Her Head
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“If I'm going to play in a game, then I'm going to play the best I can and that means that I want to win and I want to beat you.”
Last season, Oklahoma State women’s basketball coach, Jacie Hoyt, led the Cowgirls to the NCAA tournament in just her first season as head coach.
Will Dawson: "Why do you think winning is so important to you?"
Jacie Hoyt: "I feel that God just put this competitive spirit in my heart and I want to be a leader that shows my players that if you're going to do something, you need to do it the absolute best that you can."
Jacie comes from a competitive family. Her mother, Shelly, is one of Kansas’s all-time winning high school basketball coaches. In fact, Jacie played for her mother and was a three-time all-state player in both volleyball and basketball. She was named captain and excelled as a point guard at Wichita State in spite of suffering multiple significant injuries in both knees.
Will Dawson: "Did you tear your ACL four times?"
Jacie Hoyt: "YEAH."
Will Dawson: "Recovering from injuries, rehabbing from injuries can be grueling both physically and mentally. What did it teach you about yourself?"
Jacie Hoyt: "Oh, gosh, it taught me so much. I mean, I don't know that I would be sitting here as a coach if I didn't go through those injuries. To be very honest, I can't tell you that I really knew who I was without basketball. And so I would say my freshman year in college, God just really kind of brought me to my knees and I had nowhere to look but up. And I think that's really when the biggest transformation for me started."
Jacie credits her coach at Wichita State, Jane Albright, for modeling a godly example.
“When I reflect on my life, the two most impactful people were my mom and then the second one being the college coach. I saw the way that she led when things were hard, when things were going well. And so just to be able to have those two women in particular, I am so thankful because they showed me exactly who I want to be and how I want to go about coaching and impacting others.”
In 2017, Jacie took her first head coaching position at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In 2020, she led the Roos to the school’s first ever conference championship, only to have the NCAA tournament cancelled due to COVID.
“That was one of the hardest things that I've ever gone through. It was like we finally got it and then ‘boom,’ it was stripped from us and we really had nothing to show for it, you know, by playing in the NCAA tournament. That's probably the hardest conversation I've ever had as a coach, is to look them in the face and tell them, ‘I'm sorry, it's over.’ But, you know, looking back, oh my gosh, God was working and orchestrating things in my life that I had no idea.”
For a fierce competitor like Jacie, chasing greatness means new challenges must be met and conquered. In 2022 she accepted the coaching position at Oklahoma State, making her one of the youngest head coaches in the country.
“It's a testament, I think, to working really hard and treating people really well. But I didn't get here on my own. I had so many people pouring into me. And so I'm so grateful for that. And I'm very passionate about, you know, making the most of this opportunity and giving back to the game and pouring into the lives of my players the exact same way that I was poured into.”
During the season, the Cowgirls beat their rival Baylor for the first time in more than seven years. After the game, Jacie couldn’t help but praise God.
From a Twitter Post, Jacie addresses the team in the locker room: “I promised that I would give God the glory in that moment, so we’re going to pray right now, okay? Because He is working and He is on the move at Oklahoma State right now and we’re going to give it back to Him and then we can celebrate a little bit more and get rowdy, okay? 'Father God, we just thank you so much for all the great things You are doing in this program right now . . '“
“I remember taking a prayer walk that day and just praying, ‘God help me to give You the glory no matter what the results are. If we lose, help me to continue to trust and give that back to You. And if we win, then don't let me forget and let me give it back to You in that moment.’ And after the game, I just was reminded of that and that kind of conversation that I had that day with God. And for me as a believer, it's important that I show them that I'm going to be unapologetic about that.”
Though the team lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament, Jacie knows she is just getting started; building a powerhouse program in women’s college basketball, while making a positive impact on her players.
“My mission is to make Oklahoma State women's basketball in that upper echelon of teams that are talked about because I think it can be done. I really do. But ultimately, I want my players just to know how much I love them and I'm going to fight for them. I really try and measure my success by the lives that I feel like I've impacted. And just maybe plant a seed or show them the love of Christ, even though they might not ever know, that's what actually my intent was, and that's okay. We're coaching and using our platform to help others know the kingdom and bring them to the kingdom.”
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