Two-Time NJCAA National Champion Elena Lovato Joins MSU Hoops Staff

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Elena Lovato joins the MSU staff after leading Trinity Valley CC to a pair of NJCAA national titles.
Photo Courtesy of special to

STARKVILLE, Miss. – Vic Schaefer added another national champion coach to his Mississippi State staff as Elena Lovato, head coach of two-time national champion Trinity Valley Community College, was named an assistant Monday.

Lovato brings a wealth of coaching experience at various levels, and in four seasons as a junior college head coach has claimed a 113-8 record, including a 72-2 mark at TVCC, and a pair of national titles.

“It’s a tremendous blessing to have this opportunity to work with someone like Coach Schaefer who has the similar morals and values as I do as a person. The family like environment and championship vision that he and his staff have instilled within the program is what sealed the deal for me.  It will be an honor to work with, promote on the recruiting trail and coach with the best defensive minded coach in the country,” Lovato said. “I couldn’t be more thrilled to be joining the Mississippi State family. I have known the staff for a long time, and I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to spend my days with as an assistant coach in the SEC.  I’ve always said it would take something special for me to leave Trinity Valley, and it doesn’t get better than this.  I will enjoy every minute of the learning process, and believe me, I will take full advantage of Coach Schaefer’s mentorship!”

She returned to Trinity Valley Community College for the 2012-13 season and immediately made an impact, taking a squad that included Bulldog senior Savannah Carter to a 36-1 record and the NJCAA national title.

Lovato’s squad repeated the success last season, posting an identical 36-1 mark and once again hoisting the national championship. The stellar campaign earned her NJCAA Division I Coach of the Year honors.

“We are very excited to have Elena Lovato as the newest addition to our Hail State Hoops family," Schaefer said. "Obviously Elena is a proven winner having won back-to-back national championships as head coach at Trinity Valley Community College, and she is highly regarded by coaches across the nation because of her tremendous work ethic in all facets of the game. Because of that relentless work ethic, she will fit in very well with our current staff. We hit a home run with Elena joining the Mississippi State family!”

Prior to her return to Trinity Valley, she spent one season as an assistant with Nebraska-Omaha, an NCAA Division II school that was transitioning to Division I. That stint followed one season as head coach at Grayson County Community College in Denton, Texas.

At Grayson, she took a program that finished 4-26 the year before and led it to a 32-4 record, the Region V championship and a fifth-place national finish. The successful season earned her coach of the year honors from the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, North Texas College Athletic Conference and NJCAA Region V.

A year earlier she was an assistant at Trinity Valley before being promoted to interim head coach for the final 11 games of the season. During that stretch the Lady Cardinals posted a 9-2 mark and finished sixth in the national tournament.

Prior to her first tenure with the Lady Cardinals, she was an assistant on legendary coach Joe Curl’s Houston staff in 2008-09 and a graduate assistant at Pittsburg State in Kansas.

The Albuquerque, N.M., native has also coached at the prep level following a stellar playing career.

Lovato played two seasons at West Texas A&M before transferring to Missouri Southern State, where she was named a team captain and MIAA Newcomer of the Year over her two seasons.

She went on to play professionally in the Puerto Rican Women’s Basketball League, earning First Team All-League honors after averaging 23 points and 10 rebounds in 2001. The following year she played for the Chicago Blaze of the National Women’s Basketball League (NWBL).

Lovato earned her bachelor’s degree in university studies from Missouri Southern State in 2005, and her master’s degree in physical education from Pittsburg State in 2008.

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