|Photo by Doug Sasse, d3photography.com|
Shirley Egner, the winningest coach in UW-Stevens Point and WIAC women’s basketball history announced her retirement from coaching on April 6. The Pointers’ head coach for the last 33 seasons, Egner accumulated a 572-292 record at UWSP, including winning the second national championship in program history in 2002.
“I am beyond grateful to have spent 33 years mentoring young women at UWSP,” said Egner. “I tried to build this program as a contender each season by playing hard and being unselfish. Each year, we would strive for a culture of excellence on and off the court and to compete consistently at a high level throughout every game. I have learned so many invaluable life lessons from all of the players who have gone through our program. Thank you for shaping my life. “
A four-time WIAC Coach of the Year, Egner won the league’s honor in 2003-04, 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2010-11 seasons. The Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association named her Division III Women’s Coach of the Year three consecutive years from 2010 to 2012. In 2010, she was inducted into the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
“Coach Egner is a beacon in the women’s basketball community,” UWSP athletic director Brad Duckworth said. “Having served as a women’s basketball coach myself for 19 years, I can say no one is more respected than Shirley. Over her 30-plus year career, Coach has been monumental in the growth of her players and the Pointer program. Not only is our program better because of her, the game of women’s basketball, our department, our university and community is better because of her. I have the utmost respect for Coach and her entire family. Basketball has been her vehicle to influence others and I too can personally say I am a better professional and person because of her. While we will miss her passion and energy on the sidelines, she will not be far from Pointers athletics. The women’s basketball program is in great shape moving forward. Coach has certainly left a tremendous legacy “
The Pointers made 10 trips to the NCAA Tournament under Egner. In addition to the national championship in 2002, her Pointers took fourth in 2004 and reached the Sweet 16 three other times as well as going to the Elite 8 in 2010.
Egner led the Pointers to regular season WIAC titles in 2004, 2005, 2009, 2011 and 2012. Each team won the WIAC tournament six times, including in 2008 when each Pointers became the first non-No.1 seed to win the WIAC tournament championship .
Since 2000, Egner’s Pointers have the best record among all WIAC teams going 423-173 (.710). Egner won her 700th game as a basketball coach (including as a high school coach) on Feb. 10, 2021. In 2019, she became the first coach to win 300 WIAC league games.
Off the court, Egner was instrumental in her program raising $ 50,000 for the Hope is Building initiative without the aid of corporate money. “I am proud of all the past and present players who have volunteered significant hours into this community,” Egner continued. “Our program was able to raise $ 50,000 through Project Embrace and Hope is Building initiatives to provide funding for the Breast Care Center at St. Michaels.”
Six women basketball players earned the Judy Kruckman WIAC Scholar-Athlete award during Egner’s tenure at UWSP. Egner also served as the chair of the NCAA Division III women’s basketball committee from 2006-08.
Egner’s career saw coaching stops at Nicholls State, Shiocton High School and Waunakee High School prior to arriving at UWSP.
She continued by saying, “To witness young women grow into successful professionals and into motherhood has been extremely fulfilling for me. I will cherish the lifelong relationships I have been able to develop over time.”
Egner spoke of her player’s parents and the UWSP fanbase. “The player’s parents and our fans have been remarkable supporting our basketball program throughout my career. So many memories were made traveling to away games around the state and we can’t forget about our holiday trips during Christmas break. The environment you have created in Berg certainly assists us during crucial moments on the court. “
And the gratitude continued, “A huge thank you to athletic directors Frank O’Brien and Brad Duckworth for guiding and supporting me throughout my career at Stevens Point. To my amazing assistant coaches, thanks for standing by my side and for keeping me off the court. To my mom and my sisters, thanks for the coaching assistance and being my No. 1 fan. To Amy and Jordan, I would not have been able to accomplish any achievement without the unconditional love and support from you. Thank you for allowing me to welcome a new family into our family each season for the past 30-plus years. It has been quite the journey and you have always been there for me.
“I am extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish during my tenure. It truly has been an honor to serve this university and community.”