Coach Hubbard’s competitive spirit drives her successful career


Kurt Montgomery/The Chart

Ronda Hubard, women’s basketball interim head coach, speaks to her players during half time of the first exhibition game against Livin’ the Dream. The Lions won 85-62.

You’re too small. You’re too young. Ronda Hubbard has had the cards stacked against her since day one. Despite that, Hubbard has found great success everywhere she has been. Small in stature, but large in heart and will, Hubbard has a fire that makes her the ultimate competitor.

Hubbard was introduced as the interim head coach for the women’s basketball team for the 2013-14 season. Success has followed Hubbard since her high school playing days and has continued to do so throughout her career as a player and coach, no matter where she has been and who has doubted her.

Despite being named All-State twice in high school at Kickapoo High in Springfield, Hubbard was often told she was too small to be a basketball player. By the time she was in third grade, she knew basketball was her calling, though.

After high school, Hubbard took her talents to Missouri State, at the time Southwest Missouri State, and become a Lady Bear. Her size didn’t stop her from playing at the highest level of college basketball or from being successful.

Upon graduating from Missouri State in 1991, Hubbard began her coaching career at Springfield Catholic High School. She found success almost immediately, winning state championships in back-to-back years in 1992-93. Hubbard still holds the record for being the youngest coach to win back-to-back state championships in Mo.

“That’s a fun thing to hold on to.” Hubbard said, “It was a long time ago.”

Hubbard decided high school basketball wasn’t where she needed to be and made up her mind to move on to coaching in the college ranks.

“I realized my mind and my passion for the game was more suited for the college level so that’s when I left to get my master’s degree at Southwest Baptist University, coaching there for two years,” Hubbard said.

While at SBU, Hubbard made her first trip to the NCAA tournament. It wouldn’t be long before she decided to move on to the next step in her career.

Hubbard left SBU after her second year to take a temporary leave of absence. She planned to go to UMKC to earn her doctorate degree.  It wouldn’t be long before the sport found its way back to Hubbard.

Maryann Mitts, an associate professor at Southern, landed a head coaching job at Rockhurst University and was an old opponent of Hubbard’s from her playing days at Kickapoo High. She received word that Hubbard was in Kansas City and not coaching, so Mitts gave her a call.

“When she had heard that I was coming up to Kansas City and she had just gotten her first head job, she had heard that I was taking a leave of absence from coaching just to get my education wrapped up, and she asked me to come aboard,” Hubbard said. “I reluctantly said yes.”

Hubbard and Mitts formed a partnership to rival that of Batman and Robin. They found success at Rockhurst, making it all the way to the Sweet 16 in one of their five years together there.

After a temporary split up that sent Hubbard to D-I Texas Pan-American, the two coaches met back up when Mitts landed the head coaching job at Southern.

“I remember beating Pitt in our first year in the first round of the MAIA Tournament. It was our first year here, and we had inherited a program that was literally in shambles,” she said. “We were able to go on the road and get that win at Pitt.”

Twelve seasons and 189 wins later, Hubbard has taken over as the head coach after the retirement of Mitts in the summer of 2013.

In the mind of Mitts, Hubbard was the obvious choice to be her successor.

“Ronda was the absolute, obvious choice to take over. She is a great tactician of the game, a tremendous competitor and one of the best coaches in the country,” said Mitts.