Since becoming head women’s basketball coach at Kilgore College last summer, Addie Lees has recorded a successful year and is set to begin her second at KC.
Coach Lees told the Kilgore Rotary Club about her first season at the college which, by her own admission, passed quickly.
“It feels like it’s been nonstop. It’s actually gone by really fast,” Lees told the Rotarians.
Lees visited Kilgore before taking the job, during her time working as a recruiter on the road in Region 14 for Texas State University. She had previously worked as a coach at Clarendon College and Howard College. She earned her master’s degree in Sports Administration from Eastern New Mexico University.
During her visits to Kilgore, one thing stuck with Lees that led her back when a coaching job opened up as former Coach Anna Nimz announced her retirement in 2018.
“What did I take away from Kilgore? It’s the people. Every time I came here, if I ever needed anything, I could come to somebody, come to Kilgore,” Lees said.
A supportive atmosphere and kind people provided the kind of atmosphere Lees wanted to coach in.
“This is what I want my young women to be surrounded by,” she said.
“I always look at it this way too, if that was my daughter, what would I want for her?”
Lees said she hit the ground running at KC after speaking to Athletic Director Jimmy Rieves and soon got to work, recruiting players to be a part of “something special.”
Her first basketball season in Kilgore “started off on a bumpy road” but the coach and her players soon found their footing.
“The season started and we had 11 total (players),” she said. “We only practiced two times this entire year with all 11 suited out.”
Injuries and illnesses kept some student-athletes out of circulation, though they were never held off the court because of academics, the coach said.
Lees and her players were forced to learn quickly and “figure it out” when it came to finding a way to be successful in Region 14, which consistently ranks the best or second best in the nation for women’s basketball year after year.
Part of their success, Lees said, was to act, think and talk like successful players and to focus on her DIG mantra: Discipline, Integrity and Gratitude.
“DIG, every single day,” Lees said. “We started out with making our beds. I had one or two young ladies that refused to make their bed. I wasn’t going to walk over there and do it for them but I told them how important it was. Now, they make their bed every day. It took a few months but we got there.”
Lees said this disciplined attitude carried over into the player’s schedules: class, practice, study hall, extra studying, extra practice.
“Every single day, I’m challenging my girls.”
A focus on discipline, rigorous practice and excellence, along with some calculated coaching decisions throughout the season paid off: a 22-9 season record, 13-5 in conference.
“The champion of our conference won 16 games, we won 13, so we’re three games away from a conference championship,” Lees said, pointing out the KC women’s team also beat No. 22-ranked opponent Odessa College with a final score of 75-50.
Lees said a successful season was only one part of the accomplishments of the Lady Rangers in her first year.
“Everyone is on track to graduate. I’m trying to stay at the 100 percent graduation rate and it has nothing to do with me, I’m just giving them some tools,” Lees said. “Second to that, they’re all being recruited.”
Players from KC who graduate will be bound for basketball programs in Texas, Arkansas, Illinois and elsewhere.
Rieves spoke up to comment on Lees’ achievements during her first year.
“I had the pleasure of working with every women’s basketball coach that ever worked at Kilgore College,” Rieves said. “From Evelyn Blalock to Coach Lees. I’m a history person, so somewhere in the middle of the year I started looking, and Coach Lees set history this year. She is the first women’s basket ball coach to win 20 or more games, to beat Tyler and to beat Trinity Valley and to make the tournament in their first year and have a 100 percent graduation rate.”
Lees said she is excited for the next season and some of the top women’s basketball recruits in the nation are bound for KC.