Central Arkansas women's basketball coach Sandra Rushing has announced a trio of additions to her coaching staff for the 2018-19 season – bringing a wealth of experience to the Sugar Bears' bench.
While Rushing enters her seventh season at the helm of the Sugar Bears and associate coach Greg Long begins his fourth season in Conway, the remainder of the staff will sport a new look with Jason Conner, Heather Karner and Kenisha Henry coming on board this summer.
"I really like the staff we've been able to put together – they have come in and made a difference in our program right out of the gate," Rushing said. "They've taken a lot of initiative and hit the ground running and have really put in a lot of work since they arrived on campus. They bring a lot of maturity and great work ethic, and I'm excited to have them here and see what we can do together as a staff this season."
Conner, who will serve as the Sugar Bears' recruiting coordinator, comes to UCA with extensive head coaching experience in the collegiate ranks – having served a total of 15 seasons as women's head coach at Mississippi Gulf Coast and Southern-New Orleans, and men's head coach at Delta State and Belhaven.
Conner spent a total of 13 seasons at DSU, the first seven as an assistant before a six-year run as head coach of the Statesmen – where he was the fastest in program history to reach 75 wins and had nationally ranked teams in three seasons, including the 2008-09 team that earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
His experience on the women's side includes stops at Houston and South Alabama, along with a stint at UTEP in the early 90s under Rushing.
"I'm so happy that Jason has joined our staff," Rushing said. "I have had the privilege of working with Jason in different capacities. He has over 30 years of coaching experience, and his passion and knowledge will be a great asset to our program. He's a tremendous person and is willing to put in the extra time needed to help us continue our success."
Karner joins the Sugar Bear staff following two seasons as graduate assistant at Tulane, where she worked under veteran coach Lisa Stockton – who has 556 wins and 11 NCAA tournaments to her credit.
Prior to Tulane, Karner played collegiately at Youngstown State before a six-year pro career in Germany, followed by a year as an assistant at Northwest Kansas Technical College.
In her two seasons at Youngstown State, Karner – who spent two seasons in the junior college ranks coming out of Lutheran South High School in St. Louis – led YSU in scoring both seasons, was named to the Horizon League All-Newcomer team, was a Horizon League Preseason All-Conference selection and set the YSU single-season 3-point record in her senior season – hitting 87 en route to a team-leading 14 points per game.
"I'm very pleased that Heather has decided to join our program," Rushing said. "She is a young, upcoming coach who has great passion for the game. She's gained valuable experience in her time at Tulane and with her professional playing career, and she is going to be a great role model for our players."
Henry played at Delta State from 2011-15, including one season under Rushing.
She most recently served as girls' head coach at her high school alma mater J.Z. George in North Carrollton, Mississippi.
"I'm really excited that Kenisha is part of our program," Rushing said. "She has been a head coach, and brings that knowledge and experience to our staff. I had the privilege to coach Kenisha at Delta State, and know that she is a highly motivated person that exhibits a tremendous, caring spirit and is able to motivate young people to do their very best."
The Sugar Bears – one of only 17 Division I teams to win at least 25 games in each of the last three seasons – open their 2018-19 campaign on Nov. 6 in the Farris Center against crosstown foe Central Baptist College.