The 2002 San Jose State University women's basketball team won 17 games - the most by the Spartans in 22 years. San Jose State's coach, Janice Richard, was named the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Coach of the Year - the first coaching honor in 24 seasons for the Spartans' program.
Ms. Richard died after a four-year battle with breast cancer, on December 1, 2010, at age 46, in an Alexandria, Louisiana hospital.
SAN JOSE STATE PLAYER MEMORIES
Ms. Richard was an imposing, caring and warm coaching figure according to several of her San Jose State players.
"I came to San Jose State because of Janice Richard. I was her very first recruit (in 1999)," says Jessica Kellogg, second on the San Jose State career list for three-point baskets made and now employed by Ballin Ambassadors Basketball Academy in Los Gatos Calif. "She came to my house and told me how she was going to rebuild the program and her goals and visions for San Jose State. I was excited to come here.
"She taught me to believe in myself. I was a point guard in high school who she turned into a shooter. Coach was tough on me my freshman year. I thought about quitting many times, but I couldn't give up on her and the team.
"One thing she taught me about in life was that if I could deal with her, I could deal with anybody. She broke me down and built me back up a better person. She also taught us to be loyal to our teammates. Coach emphasized family, not just your basketball family but your own immediate family.
"In the short period of time I had her as a coach, (Coach) Richard did as she had promised. She coached us on what it meant to fight each day on the court, how to be successful in the classroom, and what it takes to be a strong individual," says Natalie White, seventh on San Jose State career scoring list with 1,229 points. White played her freshman season for Ms. Richard. "Knowing the impact that she has made on the lives of so many, I would have loved the opportunity to have her as a coach throughout the entire four years of my collegiate career."
"For me, starting college at 17 was hard enough coupled with the expectations of Division I basketball and being away from home. Coach Richard gave me (and many of my teammates) tools we needed to succeed beyond basketball," says Brittany Morris, who played three seasons for Ms. Richard at San Jose State and now is a Los Angeles police department officer. "It wasn't always easy, but for some reason things always worked out best when we listened to her. While I can't say that she 'raised' me, it is perfect to say that she 'grew me up' and introduced me to my adulthood. She is a staple in my life because she was paramount at the pinnacle of my young life."
MORE THAN 300 COACHING VICTORIES
Born Janice Joseph, Ms. Richard had a 16-year head-coaching career with tenures at Xavier (La.) (1993-98), San Jose State (2000-06) and Louisiana College (2008-10), and compiled a 307-163 win-loss record. She was a seven-time conference Coach of the Year, four with Xavier, the 2002 season at San Jose State (2000-06), and two at her alma mater, Louisiana College - where she was a two-time NAIA All-America guard.
At San Jose State, her one NCAA Division I head coaching position, the Spartans were 93-106 in seven seasons. Before her arrival, San Jose State only had one winning season between 1983 and 1999 and had as many as 10 wins in a season just twice. Three times, 2002, 2004 and 2005, the Spartans had winning records and finished in fourth place in the very competitive WAC each of those seasons.
"I don't think I've been around a coach who was a stronger, tougher person," said Chuck Bell, San Jose State University's athletics director who hired Richard to take over the program in 1999. "She was a great coach who turned around a losing program."
Her San Jose State players earned five first-team All-WAC honors. Lamisha Augustine, a two-time first-team All-WAC forward from Fresno, Calif., was selected in the third round of the 2006 WNBA draft after playing for Ms. Richard.
"We are saddened to learn of Janice's passing. Her coaching accomplishments here are well documented. Our thoughts and our prayers are with her immediate family," San Jose State University director of athletics Tom Bowen said upon learning of her death.
A son, Otis Lee Richard, Jr., age 12, survives Ms. Richard.
A funeral service is scheduled for Friday, December 10, 1:00 p.m. (CST) in the Guinn Auditorium on the Louisiana College campus located in Pineville, La. Visitation that day is from 9:00 a.m. to noon (CST).