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Wednesday, 17 May 2017 13:47

Davidson job 'a dream' for Coats Fulks

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Gayle Coats Fulks with Davidson athletic director Jim Murphy Tuesday. Gayle Coats Fulks with Davidson athletic director Jim Murphy Tuesday. Justin Parker

When Gayle Coats Fulks heard the Davidson women’s basketball coaching job was open, she immediately began pursuing it.

“My eyes just lit up,” she said. “I was so enthused about this opportunity, the values, the high academics, the community, so many things that make Davidson special.”

The 32-year-old lived outside Charlotte for a few years while growing up and developed an admiration for Davidson’s blend of academics and athletics — “Davidson has the absolute perfect fusion,” she said — and after five years as an assistant coach at Wake Forest, she was intrigued by the chance to be a head coach at a similar institution.

She will now get that chance. Coats Fulks was introduced as the 12th head coach in program history Tuesday morning in the Vance Center. It’s her first head coaching job.

“This is an absolute dream come true,” she said.

Coats Fulks primarily worked with guards and wing players on Jen Hoover’s Wake Forest staff and was the program’s recruiting coordinator. The Demon Deacons reached the WNIT the last two seasons.

Prior to her stint in Winston-Salem, Coats Fulks spent one season at UNCG, then a Southern Conference opponent of Davidson, and four at Longwood. Her first job after college was as an assistant video coordinator with the WNBA’s New York Liberty. She graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson in 2007 after earning a degree in business and playing four seasons for the Knights.

Coats Fulks has spent considerable time in the last week watching her new team’s game film and meeting with returning players. She said she likes the unique mix of personalities and talent she sees and acknowledged the players during her press conference.

“You guys are impressive, you really are” she said.

One of Coats Fulks’ first comments at the podium was in reference to men’s coach Bob McKillop and his successful run in Davidson. In 28 seasons, McKillop has coached the Wildcats to 533 wins and eight NCAA Tournaments, including the Elite Eight appearance in 2008.

“He’s really provided a tremendous blueprint,” she said. “I can’t wait to pick his brain.”

Coats Fulks already shares with McKillop a value of numbers. She wants her team to be “analytically driven,” and rely on 3-pointers, foul shots and layups.

“I think that’s what wins basketball games,” she said.

Coats Fulks replaces Michele Savage, who was dismissed in March after a 96-123 record in seven seasons, including a 10-38 mark in the Atlantic 10. The Wildcats were 6-23 a year ago, but return their top three scorers in guard Justine Lyon (15.7 ppg), forward Mackenzie Latt (13.7 ppg) and guard Kianna Speight (10.4 ppg).

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