Rowe Jumps At Coaching Opportunity

A week ago, Lester Rowe was comfortably ensconced in his job as a real estate salesman and property manager at Petroplus Lane, LLC. Today, he's an assistant women's basketball coach at his alma mater.

"I was not expecting to be the assistant coach with the women at this time last week," Rowe told, punctuating the statement with a hearty laugh that signaled his happiness as well as a bit of bemusement over how quickly his world changed. "I found out that Coach Mike Carey had a position open. I had an initial conversation with him, and then one thing led to another. It just sort of happened. I've always been around the program at West Virginia, and now here here we are today.

"I have great respect for Mike and what he has done with the program," Rowe continued. "He has done a great job. When he offered I made the decision that it was something I would love to do. I do love real estate, but if there's one thing that could get me away from it, it was this. It has been very hectic this past week, but it has been fun. It's kind of like when you are a kid at Christmas, you see the presents coming in the house. You don't know what they are, but you know it's going to be good. It wasn't an easy decision, because I really liked working Parry [Petroplus], but when I told them they understood. They know this was in my blood."

Rowe's credentials as a player at WVU can't be challenged, but his coaching experience has been limited to women's AAU teams from 2004 through 2009. He took last year off from direct coaching, but thinks some of the lessons he learned while coaching those teams will carry over in college.

"I never really got away from coaching. It's something that's in my blood. I think one of the keys to coaching is that it's on an individual basis. You develop players and bring them along, with the goal of winning league championships and a national championship, and I believe we have such a good foundation we can do it."

Rowe also has one lesson he learned from his time as a player under Gale Catlett at WVU that he said will be a big part of his coaching philosophy.

"One thing I learned, especially from Coach Catlett, is to respect the individual players and they will work hard for you. My job will be to help these young ladies develop their game and graduate so they can go out into society and be a productive citizens. At end of day, even if they play in the WNBA or overseas, they will need that education to fall back on.

Of course, there will be new challenges Rowe must face. Coaching college-age women will be a different experience, as will the entire recruiting process. Although his recruiting areas and specific duties haven't been finalized yet, he maintained that he is "very excited" to begin the job at his alma mater.

"It's a unique situation," he explained. "When I met with the players, I told them that they probably didn't know this, but that when I came here in 1981, I thought I'd be here four years and that would be it. Here it is 30 years later, and I'm still here. I'm as blue and gold as they come."

Rowe's experience as a player, coupled with his coaching background, gives him different tools and approaches he can using in teaching West Virginia's women the game. However, there's one thing he probably won't be doing when the on court work begins.

"I think my strong point as a coach is that I can relate to kids, and that I can demonstrate things to. I'm getting up there [in age] but I'm not in a wheelchair yet, so I can still do it. I'm not going to be doing any dunking though," the former high-flier who was famed for his 42-inch vertical said with more laughter. "I played four years in college and eight years professionally, and I was lucky enough not to have any serious injuries – no Achilles tears, no knees, anything like that. I don't think it would be good if I went out and tried to dunk and got hurt at this stage of my life in front of the ladies. I think I'll concentrate on lay-ups."

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