University of Montevallo promotes Olivia Chapman to women’s basketball head coach

Published 11:18 am Wednesday, July 12, 2023

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

MONTEVALLO – The University of Montevallo announced on Wednesday, July 5 that assistant coach Olivia Chapman will be promoted to women’s basketball head coach.

An official announcement ceremony was held on Wednesday, July 12 at the University of Montevallo.

“I am incredibly grateful and humbled to be named the head coach for this historic program to follow my mentor, Gary Van Atta,” Chapman said. “It’s an extremely great opportunity for me to step into. I’m excited to continue to be able to work with our current players and also the incoming freshmen coming in, so I’m just really ready for them to be back on campus so we can get started.”

Chapman was promoted following Gary Van Atta’s retirement announcement on Friday, June 30. Van Atta held the position across two stints, the latest from 2016-2023.

Chapman is optimistic about the future of Montevallo women’s basketball and is excited to develop the program into team that is easy to root for and that the community wants to support.

“I just want everybody to know that we’re going to run this program in a way that will make people proud,” Chapman said. “I think that we’re going to play a very fun and exciting style of basketball that people will be eager to come see and that we will have young ladies on the team that they will love to be around and support.”

Chapman becomes the 12th Head Coach in program history and the 10th in the NCAA Division-II era.

A Birmingham native, Chapman assumes her first head coaching position at Montevallo following six years as an assistant coach in collegiate basketball at the Division I, Division II and NAIA levels. Before coming to Montevallo, she served as an assistant at Central Arkansas, University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and her alma mater Trevecca Nazerene.

Van Atta added Chapman to his staff as an assistant ahead of the 2022-23 season. With the Falcons, Chapman helped UM to a fifth-place finish in the Gulf South Conference and a GSC tournament appearance. She also helped coach Marissa Snodgrass, who was named to the All-GSC Second Team.

“This year, I was able to learn from one of the greatest coaches around,” Chapman said. “The responsibilities that he let me have throughout the year truly prepared me for this moment.”

That hard work was noticed by the Montevallo administration, and both athletic director Mark Richard and Van Atta agreed that she was the right person for the job.

“We had the opportunity to observe Olivia in her role as an assistant coach over the past year and she has displayed all the attributes of an up-and-coming head coach,” Richard said. “She is driven, a hard worker, an excellent recruiter, organized, and has a super personality. We are excited to watch her grow as the next head coach of the Montevallo women’s basketball program.”

“I chose Olivia because of this moment. We chose her to be the assistant coach because we saw this in her,” said Van Atta. “It happening as quickly as it did is a tribute to her both as a person and a coach. She is going to do great things here. She has everything it takes to be successful.”

Chapman’s goal is to be an ambassador for the University of Montevallo in the community by drawing the state’s brightest stars to play for the Falcons and raise the university’s profile in the Birmingham area. She has championship aspirations, but wants to prioritize recruiting players who fit their culture who will also contribute greatly to the team.

“I want to keep the best players and student athletes in the state of Alabama home,” Chapman said. “I would like for people across the state to know more about the University of Montevallo because it’s a very special place and I think people need to know exactly how special it is, and so it’s my goal for myself, my staff and my team to be out in the community. And this is not just here at the university, but it’s Montevallo, it’s Birmingham, the entire metro area, for people to know about us and for us to serve those communities so that the university gets the proper recognition it deserves.”