Experience and familiarity personify the coaching staff for new Northwestern State women’s basketball coach Anna Nimz.
Nimz announced the hiring of Leasa Ailshie, Mike Brown and Mike Pittman on Thursday filling the coaching staff. The hirings are subject to approval by the Board of Supervisors of the University of Louisiana System, which governs Northwestern State.
When building the staff, Nimz wanted someone with ties to Louisiana.
She found that fit by adding Pittman, a New Orleans native and Grambling alum, to her staff.
“I am excited to have coach Pittman join the Demon family,” Nimz said. “He brings a lot of experience to the court both at the college and high school levels.
“He was part of turning around a college program and was a big help in signing very talented young student-athletes. I believe his dynamic personality will be a big asset in recruiting and fundraising. On top of that, he is from Louisiana and has established relationships with the coaches in the area.”
Pittman spent this past season as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Alcorn State. He served in the same role the season prior at Paul Quinn College in Dallas after two years as the head coach at Kimball High School, also in the Dallas area.
With Alcorn, Pittman helped the Lady Braves lead the nation in three defensive categories — steals per game, forced turnovers per game and total steals, a trio of categories in which the Lady Demons have excelled as well.
A New Orleans native, Pittman began his coaching career in the Louisiana prep scene getting his start at North DeSoto High School before his first head coaching job at Grambling Lab.
Ailshie returns to the coaching sideline after serving two years serving as an assistant registrar at UT-Rio Grande Valley. She spent five seasons as the head coach at Jacksonville College before moving the UTRGV. Alisihie also was Jacksonville College’s director of athletics for her final two and a half years of her tenure.
“Coach A is a great addition to the Demon family, and we are thrilled to have her joining the team,” Nimz said. “She has played in the Southland Conference, sent players on from Jacksonville College to the Southland Conference and knows what it takes to have success in this league. Her ability to scout, scheme and develop players will be greatly utilized on the court during games and in practice.”
Ailshie began her coaching career as a graduate assistant at her alma mater, Sam Houston State, where she played for two seasons after transferring from Connors State. In June 2011 she began her career at Jacksonville College as an assistant coach, working her way to head coach in 2013 and athletic director in 2015.
As the head coach, Ailshie led the Lady Jaguars to a school record 21-win season in 2017-18, being named a finalist for Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year. She mentored four All-American players and 12 Academic All-Americans and produced a 100 percent graduation rate during her time.
Nimz added another familiar face to her in Brown. The two coached and rebuilt the program together at Kilgore College before Nimz departed for UTRGV and Brown to his most recent position as an assistant at Division II’s Missouri S&T.
“I am fortunate to have another opportunity to coach alongside Mike Brown,” Nimz said. “He was a huge part in helping us turn the program around at Kilgore College.
“There is nothing too big or too small for Coach Brown. He has an incredible work ethic that sets him apart from so many and I know that he will use that same determination to help this program.”
Brown brings more than 20 years of coaching experience to NSU with three stints as a head coach beginning in 1997 at Iowa Central Community College before moving to Upper Iowa University in 2005 and William Penn in 2010.
He has seen team and individual player success at each stop in his career, earning the Region XI Tournament Championship and Coach of the Year honor in 2000 — his first season as a head coach. He also coached Upper Iowa’s first Division II Freshman of the Year and All-Region players, led the Peacocks to their first national ranking and tutored a three-time All-American for William Penn.
“Each coach brings their own personality and strengths to the program,” Nimz said. “However, the qualities that stand out the most to me is each of their abilities to build trust amongst players, develop a respect that allows them to hold players accountable and their unwavering loyalty to the community, university and program.”
Pictured: New head coach Anna Nimz announces the hiring of (from left to right) Leasa Ailshie, Mike Brown and Mike Pittman to the Lady Demons coaching staff.