Even if you follow college basketball only occasionally, but especially if you’re an obsessive, as so many of us in Texas seem to be, she will always be “Coach” — never mind that she no longer sets foot on the court each day or each week, inspires her own team of young talents to prevail at their chosen sports, or guides a single student-athlete down the path to graduation. Jody Conradt did those things and more for plenty long enough, enthusiastically and expertly, making history along the way. At her retirement nearly two years ago after thirty-one years in the employ of the University of Texas at Austin, she ranked second among all collegiate women’s basketball coaches, former and active, in career wins (900); only the equally legendary Pat Head Summitt, of the University of Tennessee, had more. Four times she was named national coach of the year; once she led the Lady Longhorns to an undefeated season and the NCAA championship; eleven years ago she was a proud inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, entering with a class of deserving big-names that included Larry Bird. And, for good measure, 99 percent of her players over those thirty-one years earned their degrees. Ever a product of her small-town upbringing, 68-year-old Conradt was born and raised in the West Texas outpost of Goldthwaite, where she was a star player on the high school basketball team, averaging 40 points a game. She earned a degree in physical education at Baylor University, where she likewise played basketball and averaged a mere 20 points per game, and then headed straight into coaching. Plenty of opportunities came her way — at Waco’s Midway High School, at Sam Houston State, and at UT-Arlington. But it was when she arrived at UT-Austin in 1976 that, well, she arrived. And with no disrespect to her successor, she will never replaced.
— Evan Smith, Texas Monthly Talks host