When Jeff Jackson resigned as the Centaurus girls basketball coach after last season, school officials admitted it was a tough one.
Athletic director Paul Roper and his staff posted the job last spring and got a boatload of candidates. They were underwhelmed, however, and re-posted the job in the fall.
That’s when they found Liz Hoelzer.
The longtime St. Louis native, a former Division-II player at Missouri Southern State University, has been hired to replace Jackson, and the Warriors are ecstatic about it.
“She’s a very confident young lady, and with that and her experience, she really has a presence about her,” Roper said. “She’s going to be a very positive leader.”
After graduating college in 2004, Hoelzer first was an assistant coach at Maplewood-Richmond Heights and followed with head-coaching stints at Pacific High School and Confluence Prepatory Academy (all in Missouri). She also served a dual role as athletic director for three seasons at the latter institution.
But after a lifetime in the St. Louis area, Hoelzer was ready for a change.
“Colorado in general has been calling me for years,” she said. “We’ve come out here frequently to go snowboarding or go hiking, and it also has been an area I’ve really liked.”
Hoelzer researched jobs in the area and came across the Warriors vacancy. She took note of Centaurus’ back-to-back trips to the Class 4A quarterfinals and also noticed that the Warriors graduated a large senior class.
“I saw the loss of scoring and a high turnover of senior class,” Hoelzer said. “A lot of times coaches like to see their senior class through, so it looked like a good transition time for the program.”
Jackson will remain at Centaurus as a teacher and golf coach. When Roper initially posted the job in the spring, he received many applicants from out of state, many of them seeking teaching positions as well. The Warriors only had a coaching vacancy available and that watered down the pool of potential replacements.
“We weren’t happy,” Roper said. “So we opened it up again recently and we really got some good candidates.”
Roper said about 15 or 16 applied and he and his staff narrowed that list down to four.
Hoelzer had her final interview on Thursday and closed on her house in Firestone on Friday. She met a few Centaurus players Tuesday.
“Even from talking to some of the girls, they’re ready for change,” she said. “They’re ready for a new playbook. That’s right up my alley, taking over a young program ready for change.”
At Pacific, Hoelzer took over a program that had won only five games over the previous two seasons and helped resurrect the squad. She admits a strong incoming freshman class helped, but she also restructured the school’s youth programs to create a better feeder system.
Although she has a degree in secondary education and a master’s in Educational Leadership from St. Louis University, Hoelzer will start as a coach only with no teaching or administrative position. She is fine with that, saying her primary focus is to get the program rolling again.
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