When the 2018-2019 Valparaiso University women’s basketball season gets underway, there will be no shortage of championship pedigree on the Crusader bench. Head coach Mary Evans has announced the hiring of three assistant coaches, all of whom bring winning track records with them to Valpo.
Evans’ staff will be comprised of Mary Gleason, Gabby Johnson and Tyeasha Moss.
“The main thing I was looking for was people who were willing to work hard and understand what the Valpo experience is all about,” Evans said. “First and foremost, I was seeking staff members who have a player-first mentality. They are going to come here and realize that getting our student-athletes better as people, basketball players and students is our highest priority. All of them have gone to NCAA Tournaments as players or coaches. That will bring a championship mentality to our team.”
Gleason returns to the collegiate ranks after a stint as the head girls basketball coach, associate admissions director and a history teacher at St. Pius X High School in Houston, Texas. She was the head coach at Houston Baptist University from 2010-2013, guiding the team during a transition from NAIA to NCAA Division I.
Before taking the helm at Houston Baptist, Gleason had stints as an assistant at Dartmouth College (2007-2010), Princeton University (2003-2007) and New York University (2000-2003). At Dartmouth, she was the top assistant and recruiting coordinator for a team that won back-to-back Ivy League championships in 2008 and 2009, first reaching the WNIT before securing a 2009 NCAA Tournament berth.
Gleason was also the top assistant and recruiting coordinator at Princeton for her final season on staff. She was a part of a staff that guided the Tigers to the 2006 Ivy League title and established a program record for wins both overall and in conference play.
“I’ve known Mary for 15+ years,” Evans said. “I met her when I was out on the east coast and have developed a great relationship with her. Her recruiting ties not only in the Midwest, but nationwide are going to be invaluable. She has a great passion for the game of basketball. She’s a bright person who will have a great understanding of the academic side of Valpo and the rigors of our students in the classroom because of her experience in the Ivy League. She can help our student-athletes navigate those waters between academics and basketball.”
Gleason also experienced tremendous success during a playing career that started as a non-scholarship walk-on at SMU. She became a starter before she was even placed on scholarship. Gleason helped SMU to its first two NCAA Tournament appearances and the first NCAA Tournament win in program history. She set the program record for career 3-pointers before moving on to play professionally in Europe from 1997-2000.
“I love teaching and studying the game,” Gleason said. “I love challenging players to be their best. As a player myself, I was pushed hard and worked toward things I didn’t even know I could do. There is such a pride in that accomplishment and it ultimately brings confidence. I really value being in a family atmosphere. I think that’s what we have with the players, our staff and this University. Valpo is a good place to be and it starts with good people.”
Johnson joins Valpo’s staff after a tenure as the head coach at Dominican University in River Forest, Ill. that began in 2012. A graduate of Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, Ky., Johnson was an assistant coach at Northern Kentucky University from 2010-2012. The Norse posted consecutive winning seasons and reached the Division-II NCAA Tournament in 2012.
“When you’re talking about finding people who want to grind and work hard, you can’t ask for much more than a Division III head coach, because they have to do everything,” Evans said. “Getting to know her over the last six years, I’ve come to realize that her ideas are very similar to mine. She’s going to be a tireless worker who is going to do everything she can to make this program the best it can be. She’s done a remarkable job at Dominican turning that program back around. Her head coaching experience will be tremendous for me to lean on.”
Johnson started her coaching career at her alma mater as an assistant during the 2009-2010 season, helping the team to a 26-4 record and Division-III NCAA Tournament berth. As a student-athlete, Johnson won three Presidents Athletic Conference regular season championships, two tournament titles and finished third in program history in career assists. During her time as a team captain, the program compiled a 57-4 record. Overall during her career, she helped Thomas More to a 99-16 mark.
“I’m excited about our staff at Valpo because we have a lot of different experiences, which is really important,” Johnson said. “When you have a staff where they all come from one place or only have one way of doing something, it’s hard to grow. Our staff will provide our team with a lot of different personalities.”
Moss worked with Evans this past season as a graduate assistant at Ohio University. Before joining Bob Boldon’s staff, she served as a junior varsity head coach and first assistant to coach William McKinney at Africentric Early College.
“Working with her over the last year, I got to watch her develop relationships with our players at Ohio,” Evans said. “Her personality and energy level coupled with the way she mentored our players and interacted with them off the court was tremendous. It was a no-brainer when I had the opportunity to bring her along.”
During her playing days, Moss was a standout at Xavier, where she led the Musketeers to three A-10 regular season championships, two undefeated conference regular seasons and an Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 2009. She led her team in scoring as a senior while surpassing 1,000 career points.
Moss played professionally in Portugal, pacing her team in most statistical categories with 19 points per game and eight rebounds per game. She played with the Ohio Dynasty in the WBCBL before continuing her career in Morocco.
“In the past year, I’ve worked closely with Mary at Ohio and I’ve learned a great deal under her,” Moss said. “I’m excited to receive the opportunity to come to Valpo with her as I continue to grow as a young assistant. Mary brings a lot of passion and experience to the game. Valpo is a great, family-oriented community. I’m thrilled to work with our players; I have never been a part of a collective group of young ladies who are as eager to learn as this one.”