Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Tuesday, July 05, 2022 — Houston, TX

Schmidt reflects on coaching career after 200th win

Photo courtesy Rice Athletics

By Savannah Kuchar     2/1/22 11:29pm

As of last week, Rice women’s tennis head coach Elizabeth Schmidt now has 200 career wins to go along with her six conference championships and nine NCAA tournament appearances. But according to Schmidt, it’s the people with whom she’s shared these accomplishments that have made them special.

“[I’ve] been fortunate to have been a part of really great matches and achieve a lot of some really cool milestones,” Schmidt said. “But those milestones don’t happen without the student-athletes, the assistant coaches, the support staff that come to work every day and work really hard and really love representing Rice.”

A five-time conference coach of the year, Schmidt started her coaching career as an assistant at Rice in 2004, after which she left to coach for two years at the University of Notre Dame. She returned to Rice in 2008 for her first head coaching position, a move that she said was fueled by her time already spent here as an assistant coach.

“I knew how much Rice could be capable of,” Schmidt said. “When I came in, I knew what some of the positives of Rice [were] and I knew what some of the challenges were going to be. So I felt like I definitely started on the instead of first step, the second step.” 

An Austin native, Schmidt said the proximity to home was also an advantage for her in coming to coach at Rice.

“When you’re looking at jobs, obviously you’re trying to find the job that’s going to be a good fit for everybody,” Schmidt said. “But it was a bonus that I could be that close to home and my parents are only a couple hours away and they can come watch a lot of matches and help out with the family.”

It was her own experience as a player at University of California, Los Angeles, that made Schmidt pursue coaching as a profession. Additionally, Schmidt said she has been inspired by two strong women in her life — her Westlake High School coach Elsa Hinojosa and head coach at UCLA, Stella Sampras Webster.

“Those two women I feel really helped pave the way for me to be where I am today, for sure. I will have so much gratitude for them, always,” Schmidt said.

After college, Schmidt played professional tennis for three years, making it to doubles qualifying at Wimbledon in 2003. As a kid, she said she first picked up the sport by following the lead of her two older brothers once they started playing tennis.

“Like the younger sister, I wanted to be like my brothers. And I’m the one who stuck with it,” Schmidt said. “They were solid players themselves … I just wanted to be like them.”

The relationships built on and off the court are most important to Schmidt, who says she still keeps in touch with not only her own coaches but also many former players from Rice.

“It’s really fun to just really build those relationships and obviously work hard together and continue the friendships past college,” Schmidt said. “The student-athletes are what make this job so special.”

More from The Rice Thresher

SPORTS 6/13/22 2:41pm
Forbes takes silver at NCAAs

On Thursday, sophomore distance runner Grace Forbes proved to the rest of the country what her Conference USA opponents and Rice teammates have known for years – she’s one of the fastest runners in the country. Competing at the NCAA championships in Eugene, Ore. for the second consecutive year, Forbes, took second place in the 10,000-meter, the best finish by an Owl at the NCAAs in over a decade. According to Forbes, who missed the indoor season and the first month of the outdoor season due to extreme fatigue later diagnosed as an autoimmune disorder, the result was a testament to the work she’s put in to overcome an incredibly challenging year.

SPORTS 6/3/22 1:21pm
NCAA T&F prelims see five Owls qualify for championships, Forbes take gold

Five Owls will be heading to next week’s NCAA outdoor track and field championships, after qualifying at the NCAA West Preliminaries which ran May 25 through 28. Headlining the meet for Rice was sophomore distance-runner Grace Forbes, who took first place in the 10,000 meters for the second consecutive year. Forbes will be joined in Eugene, Ore., by sophomore thrower Tara Simpson-Sullivan, junior thrower Erna Gunnarsdottir, senior thrower James McNaney and sophomore vaulter Alex Slinkman. Jon Warren, head coach of the men’s track and field program, said that he was impressed not only by the five qualifiers, but by all 13 Owls who participated over the course of the week in Fayetteville, Ark.

SPORTS 5/22/22 10:09pm
Men's team takes third, women's takes fifth at C-USA T&F championships

The Conference USA outdoor track and field championships saw Rice’s men’s team place third with 121 points — their best conference championship performance since 2005 — and the women’s team place fifth with 88 points. According to men’s head coach Jon Warren, he was proud to see the work his team put in all season be on full display at the meet.


Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.