Former adversary joins basketball staff
There is a new albeit familiar face on campus in the UALR Athletic Department. Head basketball coach Steve Shields hired former University of Louisiana-Lafayette head coach Robert Lee after former assistant coach Joe Golding left to become head coach of Alpine University in Texas.
Lee was with the Ragin’ Cajuns for 14 years and was head coach for six of those years. While he was there they won three Sun Belt Tournaments, went to the NCAA tournament three times and the NIT twice. He also won three western division titles.
Lee still vividly remembers his first trip to the Big Dance. “Oh my goodness, it was one of the greatest feelings ever to have as a head coach and is a moment that is really hard to describe,” he said, “because when you first start coaching in college that is your dream to get to the NCAA tournament and I was fortunate as a first year, coaching as a head coach to get there, so I thought it was easy, but it is really indescribable at that moment because everything you worked so hard for had arrived and you have to take advantage of it.”
Lee said he was very excited about being a part of the UALR basketball program and working under coach Shields and being a part of his coaching staff. “I have known Coach Shields for a very long time and he knows how to coach the game, the experience here at UALR makes it [coaching staff] one of the best in the country,” Lee said.
“I hope to bring, through my own life experiences as a coach … a different voice, but also bring a sense of experience and a sense of understanding with coach Shields because of me also being a head coach,” he said, “there are certain things that a head coach goes through that you already know because you have experienced that and because I have experienced that, hopefully I can bring more of a comfort level to Coach Shields. Also, I hope I can eventually bring in some more players, even though we have some good ones here now, but just continue to bring in some really good players that can help us get to the NCAA tournament year in and year out.”
For coach Lee, basketball is more than just a game, it’s a life experience and sacrifice. “Basketball really taught me about self-discipline and really gave me a great sense of drive and determination as far as finding something I want in life,” he said, “the main thing basketball has taught me throughout life is sacrifice. As far as the sacrifices that you have to make as a team, but also the sacrifice that for me when I was a player to become a good player to get a college scholarship,” he continued “and the sacrifice I have to make as a coach whether it is the time spent or time with family.”
Apart from being a coach here at UALR, Lee is also a husband and father. Being a native of New Roads, La., his wife of 20 years, Donique and his children are beginning to adjust to living in Arkansas.
“Everyone we have come across has been so friendly and helpful to my family. Just the role in support from my family is incredible, my wife isn’t the biggest sports fan and so they have been very supportive in anything I try to do basketball wise and they have also had to sacrifice because the time you have to spend as a coach whether it is recruiting or practicing, that is time that I have to spend away from my family, supportive is what I would probably say as the biggest word to describe my family,” Lee said.
As a four-year letterman at Nicholls State, he was team captain as a senior in 1989-90. He received his bachelor’s degree in general studies in 1991. Before becoming a college coach he was a high school coach at Opelousas High School in Louisiana for four years.
When he isn’t coaching, you can either find him watching a Dallas Cowboys game, or playing with his kids. Besides being a UALR fan now, Coach Lee loves to watch basketball, especially games with Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and Dwayne Wade playing.