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College of Central Florida WBB Coach Cheryl Rice Announces Retirement
 September 28, 2012

College of Central Florida Women's Basketball Coach Cheryl Rice will end her esteemed coaching career Oct.1 and transition into a new role on campus as manager of the CF Office of Professional Development.

True to the program's legacy of excellence, Director of Athletics Bob Zelinski has hired a proven winner to replace Rice in Sharrona Reaves, an accomplished recruiter and coach with a history of success at the National Collegiate Athletic Association level.

An Ocala native and former Lady Patriot student-athlete, Rice led CF to nine consecutive postseason appearances over her 10-year tenure, including three Mid-Florida Conference championships and two appearances in the Florida College System Activities Association State Tournament championship game. She owns a career record of 201 wins and 115 losses and has posted 20 or more wins in six of her 10 seasons.

“Cheryl Rice has been an outstanding coach, a great representative of our program, and a valuable mentor to countless student-athletes over her career at CF,” said Zelinski. “Her many contributions to CF athletics will never be forgotten.”

“My 21-year coaching career has been an awesome journey. I have thoroughly enjoyed my tenure here as women’s basketball coach, and am grateful to Bob Zelinski and College of Central Florida for allowing me the opportunity to coach the Lady Patriots for the past 10 seasons," said Rice. "It is wonderfully fitting to retire from coaching at the institution where my collegiate career began. I will continue to be one of our program’s biggest supporters."

Rice entered coaching after a distinguished playing career at CF and the University of South Alabama. In 1991, Rice was named assistant coach at Okaloosa-Walton Community College, now named Northwest Florida State College. She took over the prestigious program two years later and led the Lady Raiders to consecutive state championships, in 1995 and 1996. Rice returned to South Alabama after the second of her state titles, serving as head coach of the Division I Lady Jaguars from 1996 to 2000. In 2002, she accepted an offer to return to her hometown and lead the Lady Patriots.

Rice holds an Associate in Arts degree from CF, bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of South Alabama and a Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University.

“This exciting professional opportunity will allow me to continue to serve this college and community,” said Rice. “It also allows me to further develop my management and leadership skills for future career opportunities in higher education administration.”

Reaves, a former student-athlete at Northwest Florida State College and the University of Alabama, brings major Division I playing and coaching experience to CF. On the court, Reaves captained the Crimson Tide to a Final Four appearance in 1994; on the sideline, her career includes time on the staffs of SEC school Mississippi State University and Big East Conference power West Virginia University.

After graduating from Alabama in 1995, Reaves launched her coaching career as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Troy University. In 2003 she joined the staff at West Virginia, where she spent three successful seasons. Reaves accepted her first head coaching job at NCAA Division II program Long Island University Post, where she led the Pioneers to consecutive winning seasons for the first time in more than a decade. Her two-year stint with Mississippi State concluded in 2010; she comes to CF after a two-year hiatus from coaching in which she served as athletics compliance coordinator at Alabama State University.

“I'm so excited. I've been missing coaching, but I had started the transition into administration,” said Reaves, a native of Murfreesboro, Tenn. “If I was going to come back to coaching, it was going to have to be for a great opportunity like this, something that was going to work for me and my family as well. It just fits my life at this time.”

Aiding the transition is the fact that Reaves played under then-assistant coach Rice at Northwest Florida State College nearly 20 years ago; the two have remained friends since.

“Replacing a coach like Cheryl Rice is a difficult task, but I strongly believe that Sharrona Reaves has the experience and leadership skills to step in and maintain CF's status among the state's elite women's basketball programs,” said Zelinski. “We're thrilled to place the program in the hands of a coach of her caliber.”

“We are excited to have Coach Reaves join the CF family. She brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to our athletic programs,” said Dr. Jim Henningsen, president of CF. “The legacy built by Coach Cheryl Rice leaves big shoes to fill, but we are confident that Coach Reaves will be an asset to our coaching staff.”

The hiring of Reaves coincides with the official opening of fall practice for the Lady Patriots. The team opens its 2012-2013 season Nov. 2 at Panama City.

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