By Brad Fauber
C.K. Calhoun's consistent message to her student-athletes over the last two seasons has been on the importance of preparing for their careers. Now, the Shenandoah University women's basketball head coach is taking the next step in her own professional journey.
Calhoun, who spent the past two seasons as the Hornets' head coach, is resigning from her position, as announced Wednesday by Shenandoah University Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Doug Zipp. Calhoun is leaving to become an assistant coach at the Division I level.
"We talk about, with our players that come to Shenandoah, studying for your career and working towards your career. ... This is the reason why I'm doing it," Calhoun said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. "It's a career move for myself and it's bittersweet."
Zipp, who made Calhoun his first hire when he was named the university's athletic director in the summer of 2012, said he was surprised to hear of Calhoun's departure from Shenandoah's athletic program.
"C.K. and I talked in the past about some of her career goals, but I didn't expect it to come this fast," Zipp said. "I was surprised, but I was also excited for C.K.
"It's a big loss for Shenandoah, but we're very excited for C.K.," he added.
Calhoun guided the Hornets through the program's transition into the Old Dominion Athletic Conference two seasons ago, and she led SU to 22 combined wins and two appearances in the ODAC tournament quarterfinals during her two years as head coach.
This past season, Shenandoah was 10-17 overall and finished seventh in the ODAC regular season standings with a conference record of 6-10. The Hornets' season ended with a 53-52 loss to top-seeded Eastern Mennonite in the ODAC quarterfinals on Feb. 27.
"She took a program that was falling apart before we hired her and she turned it into an energetic, passionate and competitive team," Zipp said. "She has really instilled a sense of pride into our women's basketball program."
Calhoun, who declined to disclose which Division I program she will be coaching at next winter, said she learned about a week ago that she had been named to her new assistant coaching position. Calhoun informed Shenandoah's women's basketball team -- including the eight incoming freshman -- on Monday that she was leaving.
"My players were, I think, shocked at first but then the next thing out of their mouth was, 'Congratulations,'" Calhoun said.
Prior to Shenandoah, Calhoun played and coached at Marymount University. She also held assistant coaching positions at Frostburg State University (Maryland) and Randolph-Macon College.
Shenandoah University was Calhoun's first head coaching position, and she said she will continue to support the university and be the Hornets' "No. 1 fan."
"I think the [Division III] experience really translates to the higher levels. ... As a D3 coach you are in charge of a lot of different things, but in D1 you can focus more on coaching," Calhoun said.
"The big thing I have learned is Shenandoah is a university where you build relationships. People are what matter at Shenandoah," she added. "As I further my career, I am so lucky to have coached at Shenandoah."
The search for a new head coach at Shenandoah University will begin immediately.
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD