KILGORE, Texas — In January, Kilgore College made a splash by hiring the institution's first ever African American female athletic director, just the second woman to hold the position.
Former Lady Lobo Courtney Pruitt isn't just the first at KC, but also the only Black female athletic director in Region XIV.
“To have this opportunity and be the only Black female in Region XIV as an athletic director is a privilege and honor," Pruitt said. "But I also have a job to do. My job is to make sure that for those that come behind me, I set the bar very high and make sure that there is no stopping us.”
She paved the way immediately with her very first hire, women's head basketball coach Stephanie Williams.
Williams was the coach at Bossier Parish Community College who brought with her the conference’s leading scorer rebounder.
“Man, it's amazing," Williams said. "That's one of my recruiting tools. It's just awesome because it gives us dreams, it gives us hope. I see myself in Coach Pruitt, the way she leads this whole school. Her leadership is just so impactful and powerful.”
Before administration, Pruitt did her thing as both a player and coach, putting the Wiley College Lady Wildcats on the map.
“I noticed that in 20 years, they had not won," Pruitt said. "They had not been a successful program. And I made up my mind that day when I was hired, that we were going to win. Since that point, out of the four years I was there, three of the years, we went to the national tournament. We had very few losses, but each young lady that I had the privilege to coach carried themselves like a young woman.”
Her job there, led her to being inducted in the Red River Athletic Conference Hall of Fame, which caught her by surprise.
“I believe I was at Prairie View at the time and a coach was like, 'Hey, Coach, congratulations.' I'm like congratulations for what?" Pruitt asked. "She was like you're in the Hall of Fame. I said, now I don't coach well enough to be in the Hall of Fame.”
A 101-24 record at Wiley College in just four seasons, not to mention winning conference Coach of the Year in back to back seasons.
"I just feel so much joy to know that I had an impact on an institution," Pruitt said. "But that institution also had a great impact on me, and without Wiley I wouldn't be here today. I'm just appreciative of that administration for giving me the opportunity.”
It's an opportunity to inspire young women for years to come as Kilgore College seems to be opening doors as an institution.
“Coach Pruitt, a young African American female is our athletic director," Williams said. "A lot of our vice presidents and our president are females. You don't see that too many places. So when these young ladies get here, they say to themselves, man, 'if I ever want to be a president of a college, you see that here at Kilgore College.' I want to be an athletic director. You see that right there in coach Pruitt. I want to be a college coach, you see that right here in Coach Williams. So you get to see different facets of being successful. That's why I'm thankful for Title IX and I'm thankful for Coach Pruitt, our president, vice president, because it just shows that dreams become a reality.”