Educator. Motivator. Fundraiser. Disciplinarian. Friend. Father figure. Larry Tidwell wears many different hats in his role as head women's basketball coach at Lamar University.
The 37-year coaching veteran also serves as Lamar's executive assistant to the athletic director after a one-year stint as the athletic director, and will tackle the position with the same passion, integrity and hard work that have defined his career. A winner wherever he has been, Tidwell's leadership abilities serve him well in both roles.
Tidwell's coaching abilities have been evident during his first five seasons at Lamar, as he turned around a struggling program to make the Lady Cardinals a perennial power in the Southland Conference and among the most successful teams in terms of the number of victories in Texas.
Tidwell has compiled a 106-55 record at Lamar, winning one Southland Conference title and two division titles while leading the Lady Cardinals to appearances in the NCAA Tournament and the WNIT.
He led the Lady Cardinals to a 26-8 overall record and a 13-3 mark in Southland Conference games in the 2009-10 season, and a 25-8 overall mark and a 13-3 SLC record in 2010-11. The 2009-10 regular season co-champions of the Southland Conference, Lamar won the conference tournament to advance to its first NCAA Tournament game since 1991. The 26 wins were the second most in school history, and for his efforts Tidwell was honored as the Texas Basketball Coaches Association Division I Women's Basketball Coach of the Year.
Tidwell followed that season up with another impressive showing in 2010-11, as the Lady Cardinals won the consolation round of the Preseason WNIT and advanced to the postseason for the second straight campaign by earning a berth into the WNIT.
Last season was a rebuilding campaign, but the Lady Cardinals posted their fifth consecutive winning record, finishing with a 16-15 mark, including an 8-8 mark in conference play.
Success came quickly for Tidwell at Lamar as his first team in 2007-08 posted the school's first winning season in 13 years with a 19-13 record and advanced to the championship game of the SLC Tournament. The Lady Cardinals won the Southland Conference East Division championship and posted a pair of five-game winning streaks.
One season later, Lamar posted a 20-11 record for the Lady Cardinals' first 20-win season since 1991-92. The Lady Cardinals roared out of the blocks by winning six of their first seven games, with the lone loss coming on the road to perennial national power Baylor. The Lady Cards went 14-2 in the Montagne Center, where home attendance saw a significant increase.
Tidwell came to Lamar in 2007 after serving eight seasons as associate head coach and recruiting coordinator at TCU, helping the Lady Frogs earn 173 victories, seven consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and becoming a perennial Top-25 program. In 2002, he earned AFLAC National Assistant Coach of the Year recognition. Additionally, he was in charge of all NCAA compliance issues within the program, compiling a clean slate for 14 years as he previously had the same duties at Baylor and South Florida. Several of his recruiting classes at TCU were highly ranked, with the 2001 class ranked as high as fourth nationally, making it the most highly touted in the program's history.
Prior to working at TCU, Tidwell spent six years at Baylor University (1992-98) and helped turn a downtrodden program into five consecutive winning seasons, a Top-25 ranking, and a post season appearance in the championship game of the WNIT. Tidwell, who served as the recruiting coordinator and post position coach with the Bears, helped start the building process that has made it into the national power it is today. During Tidwell's tenure at Baylor, the Bears' recruiting classes were twice recognized among the Top 25 in the nation. In all, 14 of his 17 college recruiting classes have been ranked among the nation's Top 50 with two of those rankings coming while at Lamar.
Tidwell has now worked in the Southland Conference, Big 12 Conference, Western Athletic Conference, Mountain West Conference and Conference USA as well as the former Southwest Conference. He is credited with helping sign, develop and coach almost 30 student-athletes who have taken their talents to the professional level.
Tamara Abalde is the highest former Lady Cardinal recognized at the professional level. After representing her native Spain in the 2008 Olympic Games, Abalde signed a pro contract in the prestigious European League. Abalde is the only Lamar University basketball player ever to play in the Olympics.
Likewise, Tidwell does not back off from playing outstanding competition on the court. Lamar has faced the likes of Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, Houston, Minnesota, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Houston and Rice over the past four seasons. The 2011-12 schedule includes national champion Baylor along with Texas Tech and Ole Miss.
Off the court, Tidwell made strides in enriching pride, recognition and support for the women's program by establishing the Lady Cardinal Basketball Walk of Champions on the Montagne Center's upper concourse.
Also, Tidwell created the Wall of Excellence, which is on display on the lower concourse outside of the Lady Cardinals locker room, to honor community service, leadership, academics and basketball honors for present day players. To honor former players, a Graduation Wall, an academic all-conference recognition display, an all-conference basketball display, and honor teams display is currently on the drawing board for the lower concourse area. Likewise, a Top 25 Club that honors outstanding boosters and supporters has already been established on the lower concourse. Bringing back the tradition and pride of Lamar University women's basketball has been a top priority of Tidwell.
Tidwell has made a huge impact in Southeast Texas through nearly 300 speaking engagements, and has helped attract financial support for the program through the annual Lady Cardinal Golf tournament, the Lady Cardinals Cookbook, coaching clinics, and Cardinal Club campaigning. To date, Tidwell and the Lady Cardinals have raised more than $500,000, with all of the funds designated toward additional education opportunities such as summer school, purchasing of laptop computers for team travel, and tutoring. Likewise, facility improvements in the Lady Cardinal locker room and the academic center have been a priority.
Under Tidwell's guidance, the Lady Cardinals have partnered with the Beaumont Independent School District to introduce the Character Counts program into the school system. In their effort to give back to the community, the Lady Cardinals take pride in volunteering and supporting fundraisers such as Chef's Delight, the Julie Rogers Gift of Life, Girls Haven, the Babe Didrikson Zaharias golf tournament, Beaumont I.S.D. Education Summit and College Night, McDonald's D.E.S.K. program, Halloween with retirees at the Beaumont Hotel, Don Allen Sports Day at Wildwood Resort for physically challenged individuals, the team adoption of Lane Hoffpauir (a young future Cardinal who has had a bone marrow transplant ) while helping with all of his fundraisers, partnering with Be the Perfect Match - a bone marrow donor program, and various other fundraisers throughout the Golden Triangle.
Each of the Lady Cardinal players devotes more than 50 hours of voluntary community service, and as a team the Lady Cards have netted more than 5,000 volunteer hours over the past five years. Likewise, Tidwell personally honors the traditional "Service above Self " motto by serving on the Babe Didrikson Zaharias Foundation Board, the Beaumont Foundation Board, volunteering during the Hurricane Ike recovery period with Big Rich Courville in cooking and feeding workers that were helping to restore the Golden Triangle, actively participating in Save Our Children projects with Rev. J. D. Roberts, being an active member in the Young Men's Business League, and always working with Little Dribblers and other youth programs to promote Lamar University and the game of basketball.
On the academic side, Tidwell has placed special emphasis on academic advisement, monitored class attendance, monitored study hall programs - on campus and on the road, acquiring capable tutors in every field and the securing of financing needed to enable student athletes to attend summer school. Also, Tidwell raised funds to upgrade the student-athlete Academic Court in the Montagne Center to make it a study lab that is second to none. Tidwell makes graduation a must for his players.
Tidwell and the Lady Cardinals continue to partner with Kathleen Jackson and ExxonMobil to promote the Academic Excellence program for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade girls in the Golden Triangle. Each girl, for being recognized on the Susan Simmons A honor roll and the Pat Tubbs A-B honor roll, will receive two complimentary game passes from ExxonMobil and an awards certificate from the Lady Cardinals. This program lasts throughout the duration of the season.
Meanwhile, the Lady Cardinal Basketball Summer Camps have experienced phenomenal growth since Tidwell's arrival, as nearly 1,000 campers have received instruction from the Lamar coaching staff since its beginning in summer 2007. Both the individual and team camps have been very popular to players throughout Southeast Texas, the entire state of Texas, and internationally. Also, an outstanding effort has been made to promote and support the Little Dribblers programs of Southeast Texas.
Tidwell is a well-known figure in women's basketball throughout the entire country and abroad. His international roots run deep as he has visited nearly 40 different countries and has coached and signed players from Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Latvia, Trinidad, Sweden, Slovakia, Belgium, France, Iceland, Jamaica, Serbia, Peru, Nigeria, Poland and Denmark. Tidwell enjoys sharing his basketball knowledge and has done numerous coaching clinics throughout Texas, with clinics overseas in Iceland, Scotland, Trinidad and Tobago, Nigeria, Latvia, Lithuania, and the Bahamas.
In 2011, Tidwell served as the head coach of the national women's basketball team of the Bahamas, guiding them to a fifth-place finish at the Caribbean Basketball Championships.
A native of Sanger, Texas, Tidwell compiled a 283-65 (.813 percentage) record in 12 years as a high school girls basketball coach with stops in Frisco, Schulenburg, and Mexia. During those 12 seasons as the head girls coach, his teams made 11 state playoff appearances.
During the 1971-1972 academic year, Tidwell played freshman football and basketball at TCU before transferring to Austin College, where he earned three letters in football, three in baseball and two in track and field. A member of Beta Chi Omega national fraternity, he earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees from the school in 1976. In July 2004, he was inducted into the Austin College Hall of Fame, and the year before he earned a place in the Sanger High School Hall of Fame. In July 2010, Tidwell was honored with the distinguished Kedric Couch - Austin College Alumni - Coach of the Year Award.
Tidwell has served on the board of directors of the Texas Girls Coaches Association and the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches. In 1991, he coached in the TGCA All-Star game and was selected again in 1999 but had to withdraw when he moved to Tampa to take the South Florida position.
In 2008, Tidwell was the recipient of the TGCA's prestigious Margaret McKown Distinguished Service Award for his then 32 years of service to the organization. He also has worked as assistant director of the TABC summer camps for girls. Named "Teacher of the Year" on two occasions, he was honored as Schulenburg's "Citizen of the Year" in 1991.
Married to the former Teresa Ann Davis of Sanger, a retired special-needs teacher in the Crowley (Texas) Independent School District, the couple has three sons - Marc, Marty and Michael. They have two daughters-in-law - Kristin and Michele - two granddaughters - Ryan and Skylar - and three grandsons -- Matthew, William, and Waylon. Michael (at Lake Worth High School) and Marty (at Frisco Wakeland High School) have followed their dad into the coaching profession and have proven to be outstanding teachers and coaches, while Marc is a very successful businessman in Houston with Bates Footwear.
Tidwell also has six "adopted sons," Jeremy Pevehouse (a highly regarded businessman with Dickie's apparel), Daryl Vrazel (assistant principal/girls basketball coach at Lake Worth High School), Dave Mishler (girls basketball coach at North Side High School), Sean McShane (former college basketball coach and now a successful businessman), Chad Hammett (outstanding M.D. in Port Arthur, Texas, and the official team doctor of the Lady Cardinals) and Thomas Bilde (former basketball club coach in Denmark and now an internationally known sports broadcaster in that country).
||Texas Assn. of Basketball Coaches Coach of the Year
1 NCAA appearance, 1 NIT appearance, 1 Coach of the Year Award