The 2015-16 academic year marked the 25th seasons for two staples of HBU Athletics, head coaches Ron Cottrell (men’s basketball) and Mary-Ellen Hall (softball).
“It is very rare at the Division I level of college athletics today to have the kind of longevity that both Coach Cottrell and Coach Hall have had here,” HBU Director of Athletics Steve Moniaci said. “They would not have been here that long unless they were not only very good coaches and great people, but also completely committed to the mission here at Houston Baptist University. Both of them are among the most successful coaches in their respective sports in intercollegiate athletics and both have a very high winning percentage. Just as important though, both of them also have a very high graduation rate for their players. “As many of them will attest to, the student-athletes who competed for these two coaches, and our institution, have been truly blessed by MaryEllen’s and Ron’s presence here at HBU.” Cottrell and Hall made their coaching debuts during the 1991-92 academic year, and Moniaci recently announced contracting extensions for both through the 2018-19 season. Cottrell also serves as associate director of athletics, while Hall is the department’s senior women’s administrator. “It’s tough to put into words how much HBU means to me, because this University has been such a big a part of my life, and my family’s life, for so long now,” Cottrell said. Cottrell led the Huskies back to the NCAA Division I ranks after 16 seasons building a perennial power at the NAIA Division I level, and has the program off to a strong start in their third season as a member of the Southland Conference. He is by far the program’s winningest head coach, having amassed over 440 wins in his time at the helm. Over his tutelage, the Huskies had at least one basketball player receive All-America honors across a 13-season span, also coaching athletes to All-America accolades 20 times, including the 2002-03 Basketball Times NAIA National Player of the Year, Rod Nealy. In addition, HBU has recipients of All-Conference honors 39 times under Cottrell. In conjunction with the Huskies’ on-court success, Cottrell continues to stress excellence in the classroom as well, holding and 85 percent graduation rate. Six players under Cottrell have garnered Academic AllAmerica honors and 53 have earned Academic AllConference accolades. Cottrell was named Red River Athletic Conference Coach of the Year five times. He also has twice been awarded the Houston Area High School Boys Basketball Coaches’ College Coach of the Year and he received what he regards as one of his highest honors in the summer of 2006 when he was selected by USA Basketball to serve as a court coach for the gold-medal winning 18U USA team. Cottrell served as the director of athletics at HBU from 1994-2009. Hall is the winningest coach at HBU is her own rights, sporting 732 wins as the softball team enters the 2016 season. “To be here 25 seasons shows the continued support that the athletic department and administration have had in what assistant coach Roger Willhite and I are doing,” Hall said. “This place has been my home since I was a student-athlete, walking the very campus my players do today. There’s no place I’d rather be than HBU.” Hall led the Huskies to the SLC tournament in their first season as a member of the league, winning their first tournament game with an 8-7 victory over Stephen F. Austin. During her tenure as head coach, Hall has led HBU to nine NAIA national championship tournament appearances and appearances in the national rankings, including the team’s highest final ranking of second in 2005. She was honored by the University at the National Fastpitch Coaches Association for her 500th career win during the 2006 season and has had athletes selected All-America a total 31 times Academic All-America 44 times. The Huskies also have been awarded for excellence in the classroom by the NFCA. Prior to taking over the reigns as head coach, Hall served as an assistant coach for three seasons. In her first year as an assistant, which also was the first year of HBU softball, the Huskies competed as a Division I member.