OGDEN – Weber State has hired Velaida Harris as the new head coach of the Wildcat women’s basketball team, the school announced on Tuesday. Harris is the sixth head coach in Weber State women’s basketball history.
She brings more than 25 years of coaching experience to Weber State, including nine seasons coaching at the Division I collegiate level, with six years in the state of Utah.
“I’m so grateful and thankful for the opportunity to lead the Weber State women’s basketball program,” Harris said. “I’m excited to build on the momentum and continue to grow this program. I truly feel that Weber State is an exceptional university and that the state of Utah is a hidden gem. I am really looking forward to getting started.”
Harris is also the first African-American woman to ever to be a Division I collegiate head coach of any sport in the state of Utah.
“We are thrilled to welcome Velaida as our new women’s basketball head coach,” said Weber State Director of Athletics Jerry Bovee. “This is a historic hire and she will bring a high level of experience to Weber State. She has many connections in coaching and recruiting in the state of Utah and other areas of the country. She also has a hunger and passion to succeed and to grow our program and she will be a tremendous addition to our athletic department.”
Harris comes to Weber State after spending this past season as an assistant coach at the University of Rhode Island where she worked primarily with Rhode Island’s perimeter players. She was also heavily involved in recruiting.
Prior to Rhode Island, she spent six years on the staff at the University of Utah from 2009-15. She began her career with the Utes as the director of basketball operations under head coach Elaine Elliott. She earned a promotion to assistant coach and then added the responsibility of recruiting coordinator under head coach Anthony Levrets.
During her stint at Utah, the program reached the postseason four times. She helped guide the Utes to the NCAA Tournament in 2011 and the finals of the WNIT in 2013. She coached 11 all-conference selections and 26 academic all-conference performers during her stint at Utah.
Prior to coaching at Utah, Harris spent two seasons at the University of Oregon. She was the director of operations for the Ducks in 2007-08 and was promoted to assistant coach the following season. During her time at Utah and Oregon, Harris recruited several regions of the country. At Utah, she was responsible for the Midwest, South and Southeast. With Oregon, she recruited the West Coast, Midwest and Canada. She also handled recruiting the junior college ranks.
At both schools, she served as the academic liaison for the staff. Utah and Oregon both had a 100 percent graduation rate. Harris also coached two WNBA players, two Olympians and 16 players who went on to professional careers overseas.
Before joining the collegiate coaching ranks, Harris spent one season as the associate head coach of the Portland Chinooks of the Men’s International Basketball League. She also spent three seasons (2004-06) as the girl’s basketball head coach at Lake Oswego High School, where she led the team to a 40-15 overall record two state playoff berths.
Harris was also the head coach at Lincoln Senior High School from 1997-04, leading the program to six state playoff berths, three trips to the state championship tournament and three league titles, while compiling a record of 123-52. On the AAU circuit, she was the Program Director and coach of the Nike sponsored Portland Elite Basketball Organization (PEBO) for eight years, heading the selection and evaluation of players throughout Oregon and SW Washington. More than 80 percent of the seniors in her program went on to play college basketball. Harris served as a coach at the prestigious Nike All-America Camp three times (2000, 2002 and 2004).
Harris graduated with a degree in Liberal Studies and a minor in English from Portland State University, where she played from 1989-93.
She and her husband Jerry have been married for 23 years. The couple has three children – Christaen, Gabrielle and Sierra.