There is a unique bond on the women’s basketball team and it isn’t amongst the players; it’s between the coaches. Head Coach Charity Elliott and Assistant Coach Chris Elliott have been married for 20 years and coaching alongside each other for 17.
Chris described the beginning of their joint coaching career as a little rocky. “At first, we would kind of lock horns, [because] she has her opinion and I have my opinion,” said Chris. “But she’s the boss. Once you realize that I’m just the assistant and not the husband, and that I do what she says, once you iron out those things early on, it’s been fantastic.”
Charity agreed with her husband and added that his understanding of their power dynamic on the court has made their marriage and careers successful.
“It wouldn’t work unless he was really okay with me having to make the decisions when it comes to basketball and our team,” said Charity.
Basketball has been a big part of the lives and marriage of Charity and Chris Elliott for nearly two decades. Both coaches agreed that basketball is their passion and that coaching is what they describe as their calling. Charity emphasized that basketball, the University and the team are what her and her husband invested their lives into and what became their family.
However, separating work from marriage and navigating the boundaries of when it’s time to switch from one to the other is a consistent process for the Elliotts.
“When you’re doing it together and you’ve been married for so long, you have to take care of both, especially the marriage because that comes first,” Chris said.
With their years of experience, this process has become a lot easier, but both Charity and Chris said they are still managing. When describing the early process of balancing the two dynamics, Charity mentioned that learning how to navigate through emotional, competitive times was significant.
Both coaches embarked on a long coaching career together at Cal Baptist, Portland State and UC San Diego before coming to LMU six years ago. Last year, they helped guide the Lions to one of their most successful seasons yet with a 20-11 overall record and 11-7 in conference. Before taking the job as head coach, Charity knew from previous opportunities that restarting at a new university would be difficult.
“To think about starting somewhere else is daunting and we’ve been through that,” said Charity. “We know how hard it is, so we want to build something here at LMU that is special.”
Chris shared the same sentiments as his wife.
“I think a lot of people don’t realize how hard it really is and how much time it takes to turn a program around,” said Chris. “We’ve given everything to it, so now we’re ready to see what we’ve been working for. These are the fruits of our labor and, like she said, we absolutely love this team and it’s what we’ve worked for.”
The Elliots said that they both love LMU and the city of Los Angeles, and now both of them get to see their hard work pay off in front of them as the 2018-2019 season arrives. After ending a successful season last year, both coaches are excited to see this upcoming season unfold.
Charity said that her goal is to see her players be victorious on the court and have an even better season than last year.
“We have so many returners so we just want to build on the success we had last year,” said Charity. “We want to end better than we ended last year; we feel like we can win a championship and that’s what we want to do. So [we go] day by day and we do what we need to do today to get better.”
Chris has an equally optimistic view of the upcoming season, and he said that he is also ready to have a more successful season than last year.
“It’s hard not to be excited just because we finally have a group that we’ve been waiting to put together,” said Chris. “We never really predict because we don’t know what’s going to happen but we’re very excited just to have everybody back and we’re ready to get going,”
Now entering their seventh season coaching at LMU, the Elliotts and the Lions are ready to continue their streak of winning seasons. The team opened their season at Gersten Pavilion against UCLA on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
The LMU women’s basketball team started strong in their first regular season game of the season defeating UCLA, 69-63. Both teams struggled to hit jumpers and both shot under 40 percent from the field. The Lions outscored the Bruins in both halves, grabbed 25 offensive rebounds, forced 18 UCLA turnovers, and dished out 18 assists to help key the win.
“I really want them to look back having enjoyed their experience and be lifelong Lions,” said Charity. “Part of that is being successful on the floor and that’s what we want to continue doing.”