Lindy La Rocque’s coaching journey started in some ways while she was a tough-minded, three-point specialist playing for the Cardinal. Now the 2012 graduate is set to join a staff of coaches she describes as her mentors.
“We are ecstatic that Lindy is back,” said head coach Tara VanDerveer in a press release. “She worked extremely hard, and was a very intelligent player, and has continued to display those traits as a coach. Those characteristics along with her enthusiasm will add a lot to our program.”
La Rocque will work with Stanford’s perimeter players along with associate head coach Kate Paye, who coached the former Cardinal during four seasons that ended in trips to the Final Four. La Rocque played in 138 games for Stanford.
Paye said that La Rocque has been on a shortlist of potential coaches since she was at Stanford, where she was affectionately teased as "Coach La Rocque."
The Las Vegas native grew up in a coaching family -- her father Alan is a Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association (NIAA) Hall of Famer -- and she knew from a young age that the profession was her likely calling. While at Stanford she took advantage of every opportunity to learn, even sitting in with the staff “probably when I shouldn’t have been, but I was.”
“It’s not a surprise to anyone that coaching at Stanford was my ultimate dream and goal of what I thought I could do,” she said.
How quickly dream became reality has been a “whirlwind.”
A few weeks ago in the past NCAA Tournament La Rocque was an assistant coach at Belmont University in Nashville. The Bruins were eliminated in the first round, losing 73-70 to Kentucky.
The following weekend La Rocque made the trip to Lexington to watch the Cardinal defeat Texas and Notre Dame to reach the Final Four. She traveled to Dallas and interacted with the current team, other former players and the coaches as a proud alumna.
Then Tucker’s decision to step away from coaching was announced April 13.
“Maybe from the outside people may have thought I was interviewing (in Lexington or Dallas),” La Rocque said. “Really that wasn’t the case. I was just a coach in an area where my team was playing and my mentors were there. Then when Amy retired from coaching it was kind of shocking … and everything fell into place.”
The process that put La Rocque in position to be an assistant coach at Stanford required a great deal of work.
After graduating from Stanford she took a job in a financial software company in Redwood City. She needed to be sure that coaching was her future.
“I had been in the gym a lot,” she said. “I had committed a lot of my life to the gym, so I wanted to take a step back and make sure that’s where I wanted to go.
“The coaches all had bets of how long it would take for me to come running back and get in the gym. It was about Christmas time that happened. I wanted to coach, but I think more than anything I wanted to continue my education and get my masters.”
The search was on -- with the help of Paye, VanDerveer and various contacts -- for a graduate assistant opening that was a good fit. She landed in Norman, Oklahoma, working for the Sooners while studying for her degree in "higher education with an emphasis in intercollegiate athletic administration."
As a GA she received a well-rounded, ground-level introduction to coaching. Her transition to Belmont -- a highly successful mid-major whose former head coach, Cameron Newbauer, is now at Florida -- put her in position to coach the Bruins’ guards and dabble in a bit of everything required of members a small staff.
“I also was equipment manager, travel coordinator, etc,” she said. “You really have to be able to wear many hats and do it all. That really helped me to learn.”
During her seasons at Oklahoma and Belmont she regularly communicated with the Stanford coaches as their relationships evolved from coach-player to peers. And now they will be co-workers.
She’s already on the road for Stanford since her hiring was announced Monday. She will be recruiting this weekend, pack up her belongings and ship them off to California, and then back to recruiting next week.
“Hopefully I meet my stuff somewhere back in California, pick it up and move somewhere,” she laughed. “It has been a little bit of a whirlwind and the coaches have done a great job of getting me up to speed on so many different things over the phone.”
She also had a chance to speak to the current players and incoming freshmen. She already had a good sense of her future basketball pupils from when they met at an alumni event in Dallas -- an interaction made more interesting in hindsight because neither side knew La Rocque would be joining the staff.
“We conversed and interacted on a more raw level,” she said. “Their energy and their togetherness as a team and family is what I’m excited to join.”