Tiber very excited of next step

Missy Tiber wasn’t available on the coaching market for very long.

Tiber, the former Bellaire High School and West Liberty State College standout, is gearing up these days for her first season guiding the women’s basketball program at the University of North Alabama.

”Things have been going really well,” Tiber said from her home in Florence, Ala. late last week. ”Some of the girls are getting ready to move in to campus. It will be really exciting.”

She’s going back to her roots, really. Of her 18 previous years in coaching, all but four were spent in NCAA Division II, including six serving as an assistant for Lynn Ullom with the Hilltoppers.

”I still miss my days as a player and coach at West Liberty,” Tiber said. ”I’ll never for get what (Coach) Gregg Bonar did for me at Bellaire and all the experience Lynn provided me.”

Those early experiences laid the foundation for what’s been a successful career for Tiber. Head coaching stops at D-II Belmont Abbey and Tusculum, along with D-I Southern Illinois, have her with a current career mark of 186-156.

While her attempt to turn around the struggling Southern Illinois program didn’t work out the past four seasons, Tiber doesn’t regret giving it a shot.

”I think after being there four years we left (the program) in much better shape than when we found it,” she said. ”We just didn’t get it turned around quick enough.”

After having so much success in her other stops, Tiber said part of the allure of accepting the Southern Illinois job in 2009 was the challenge of turning around a program that had only one winning season in the previous 13 before she arrived.

”I think like anything else when there are challenges you want to see how you responded to them,” Tiber said. ”That helps define who you are as a person.

”That was my first time as a head coach at the Division I level and my attitude was we’re going to turn this thing around.”

Being positive has always been Tiber’s mantra, and it’s showed every place she’s been. Now, she’s ready to bring that outlook to North Alabama.

”I’m ready to see where this takes me,” she said. ”I saw where this job became available and I knew it was a great program with a great tradition. I’d heard some great things about the community.”

When Terry Fowler left UNA to after last season to accept the job at the University of South Alabama, he left the Lions in good shape.

”This definitely isn’t a rebuilding program,” Tiber said of the Lions, who were 20-11 last season.

At 41, Tiber said she contemplated taking a year off to recharge her batteries. But the situation with the Lions was too good to pass up.

”I’m looking forward to bouncing back,” she said. ”I’m just surrounded by phenomenal people here.”

That list includes Adrianne Harlow, her longtime assistant and fellow West Liberty alum.

”It’s so beneficial to have somebody by your side that has faith and trust in what you’re doing,” Tiber said. ”I don’t think any of coach to solely win games. It’s about building relationships and building relationships.

”(Adrianne) has been a huge part of my success. She’s really close to becoming a head coach in the future. To have her be successful means a lot to me.”

As does NCAA Division II’s “Life in the Balance” philosophy, which promotes a shorter playing season, fewer competitions during the school year and a no-games, no-practice break in December.

”I’m looking forward to getting back to that,” Tiber said. ”I want those involved in our program to enjoy life and not put pressure on yourself. That’s not anyway to live.

”It’s going to be nice to give the kids a whole week off at Christmas.”

Thorp’s Tidbits

  • Kudos to the Bethany College administration, including athletic director Brian Rose and former AD Tim Weaver, for making a good thing better.

This past week, finishing touches were put on a new scoreboard at Bison Stadium, another of the many improvements the venerable venue has undergone during the past five years.

It all started in 2008 when a new state-of-the-art artificial turf surface was installed. New lights and a new track followed, along with a steeplechase pit and jump and new areas for pole vault, high jump, long/triple jump and throwing events.

A year later, lockerroom facilities for the football team were upgraded.

The improvements have not only been a boon for the school’s athletes and students, but the community, as well.

And, last fall, the stadium played host to a high school football game pitting Linsly and Parkersburg South. In addition, for the past three years, Bethany has played host to camp for the Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Football Charity Classic.

  • Speaking of the Bethany football team, this past week the Bison were picked to finish tied for fifth, along with Geneva, this season in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference at the conference’s 12th annual media day festivities at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe.

Washington & Jefferson was tabbed to win its 23rd PAC crown. Thomas More was second in the voting, followed by Waynesburg and Grove City. Westminster was seventh, while Thiel and Saint Vincent rounded out the voting.

Former Linsly running back Phil Acrie, now a senior, is listed as a Player to Watch in the PAC for the Bison.

Thorp can be reached at rthorp@timesleaderonline.com