Women’s basketball coach Bri Calver brings a distinctive, committed spirit to Crusader Athletics. It perhaps came as no surprise to University of Dallas athletes when the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) dubbed Calver 2020-21 SCAC Coach-of-the-Year on March 11.
While this honor has been given to three coaches in the history of Crusader Athletics, Calver is the first UD women’s basketball coach to be awarded the title.
Coach Calver said that she has been “playing basketball as early as I could walk, probably. I’ve played all my life.”
After competing collegiately in division II basketball, she couldn’t leave the sport behind.
“When I graduated from college, I was like, I’m not ready to be done, so I got into coaching as a graduate assistant and got my master’s,” Calver said.
While completing her master’s degree, she decided to pivot from her original plan of teaching and coaching high school, and jumped into coaching college full time.
“I just enjoyed it too much… it just grabbed my heart.”
For Calver, basketball isn’t simply a sport or a career.
“I think it’s the relationships you build as a coach. It is more than basketball as well. The opportunity to build the relationship with the girls while being a coach, teaching them the game I love, while mentoring them through college is what I really enjoy,” Calver said.
Calver’s success speaks for itself. Amidst navigating a young team, an altered season, COVID-19 protocols and being a new mother, Calver led her players to a major upset against top-seeded Schreiner University this season and bounced back from an initial 0-4 record by winning four of their six final games.
Despite her success, Calver said that she always centers her coaching on the person, prioritizing her players over mere statistics.
Calver said, “Obviously the success we have on the court is rewarding, but I think the biggest reward is seeing the girls improve and grow,” Calver said. …“Even this year in our short season that we had, watching how some of our freshmen grew from day one to the end was amazing, not only as basketball players but as people.”
Recognizing the importance of balance is central in Calver’s coaching style.
“We still expect our athletes to commit a pretty big chunk of time, but while still having a life outside of basketball. It’s academic-focused. You get your degree, you schedule [basketball] around your classes. That’s what’s most important and basketball is just, you know, something that you get to do on top of it, something that you love and that helps build you as a person.”
Calver characterizes her team as relentless. Over the next several years, she hopes her hunger for excellence will bring her objectives for the team to fruition.
Calver said, “My goal as a coach is to see the program improve, to take steps forward. And for the next few years, the goal is to win a championship. I don’t think that’s out of reach, with just the improvements we’ve made in one year, we’ll be able to do it in just a couple of years.”