Lisa Fortier Named GU Women’s Basketball Coach
SPOKANE, Wash. — After spending much of the last decade as a member of the Gonzaga University women’s basketball staff, including the past seven as an assistant, Lisa Fortier has been named the program’s head coach.
Gonzaga Athletic Director Mike Roth introduced Fortier during a news conference Monday at the McCarthey Athletic Center. Fortier, GU’s seventh coach since 1980, replaces former head coach Kelly Graves, who left for the same position at the University of Oregon.
“I am very excited to announce Lisa Fortier as our new head women’s basketball coach,” Roth said. “Lisa has been a valued member of this staff for nine years and has been an integral part of our success. She is a tireless recruiter who will continue the tradition of bringing tremendous student-athletes to Gonzaga and then developing them into great college basketball players while helping them flourish into people that make a difference in the world.”
Fortier, who has spent nine years at Gonzaga in various capacities, said she is grateful for the opportunity to lead a program she has helped develop into a perennial Top 25 team.
"I am so blessed and honored to have the opportunity to be the next women’s basketball coach at Gonzaga University,” Fortier said. “My family and I are looking forward to beginning this new stage of our life with the support of such a caring and committed athletic department, university and community. Special thanks to President Thayne McCulloh and Athletic Director Mike Roth for their leadership and support throughout this entire process.”
Fortier first came to Gonzaga in 2004, spending two years as the coordinator of basketball operations. She then spent one season as an assistant coach at the University of Northern Colorado before returning to GU in 2007.
In her seven years as a Gonzaga assistant, the Bulldogs have produced an overall record of 196-43. The Zags have dominated the West Coast Conference during that span, compiling a 98-8 mark to go with seven consecutive WCC regular-season championships and five WCC Tournament titles.
After a second-round appearance in the WNIT in Fortier’s first season as an assistant, the Zags have qualified for the NCAA Tournament each of the last six years, which included a stretch of three straight Sweet Sixteens from 2010-12. The highlight was an Elite Eight run in 2011, in which the Bulldogs upset three higher-seeded teams.
“We have a great program, we’ve recruited good kids for next year and there’s not going to be somebody coming in and wanting to change everything,” Fortier said. “I know what we’ve done to be successful, I know the community, I know the university and I have a better feel for what it’s going to take to move onward and upward.
“Someone else might come in with their own ideas,” she added. “Mine are going to be fine tweaks, not major overhauls.”
In addition to serving as Gonzaga’s recruiting coordinator, Fortier has been responsible for coordinating GU’s defense. The Bulldogs were one of the best defensive squads in the nation this past season, ceding just 56.5 points per game, the 13th-lowest total in the country. The Zags also held opponents to 36.4 percent shooting, the 23rd-best mark nationally, while recording 11.6 steals per game, third most of any team in the country.
“She knows how the program works and she has a lot of experience,” junior forward Sunny Greinacher said. “She has been the defensive coach, so there should be a lot of emphasis on that continuing, which is great for us because that is very big for our success.”
Fortier has also spent the last seven seasons coaching Gonzaga’s guards. She has mentored two WNBA draftees in Courtney Vandersloot and Katelan Redmon as well as Haiden Palmer, a 2014 draft hopeful. She also coached Taelor Karr, the 2012-13 WCC Player of the Year.
“I'm truly excited to continue working with the talented group of young women we currently have in our program,” explained Fortier. “They are excellent ambassadors for not just Gonzaga University, but the entire Spokane community. Together with the great incoming class we already have committed, I look forward to helping this group become the best team that they can be. I am very excited to take on this challenge and continue moving our program forward."
A native of Grass Valley, Calif., Fortier played collegiate basketball at Butte (Calif.) Community College before transferring to Cal State Monterey Bay. At CSUMB, she earned honorable mention All Cal-Pac Conference honors as a junior and was an NAIA Academic All-American in 2003. She also earned the 2004 CSUMB Female Scholar Athlete of the Year.
Fortier graduated Magna Cum Laude from CSUMB in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in human communications. Fortier earned her master’s degree in sport and athletic administration from Gonzaga in 2006.
Fortier, who has spent the last two years as the Assistant Coaches Representative on the WBCA Board of Directors, is married to Craig Fortier, the associate head men’s basketball coach at Eastern Washington University. They welcomed the first son, Marcus, in 2010. Their second son, Calvin, was born in 2012. The couple is expecting their third child this summer.
Other head coaches from around the nation weigh-in on the Lisa Fortier hire.
Wendy Schuller (Eastern Washington University):
“A huge congratulations to Lisa on her new position. I have known Lisa for a long time and know she is going to do a great job. She is a fabulous recruiter, motivator and kids love playing for her. She is going to do a tremendous job of leading the Gonzaga program into the future.”
Joddie Gleason (Humboldt State University):
“I am extremely excited and proud to hear that Lisa was hired as the new coach at Gonzaga University. I was fortunate to coach her at Butte College in my first collegiate coaching experience and now continue to watch her develop as a professional in the sport. GU is in good hands with Lisa at the helm. She has a terrific understanding of the game and is a great coach, but more importantly is an outstanding role model for here student-athletes, the youth in the community and for other young coaches looking to get into the profession. She is a perfect example of what can be achieved with hard work.”
JR Payne (Santa Clara University):
“I am happy for Lisa and know that she loves Gonzaga just as much as anyone. She is a Bulldog through and through. No doubt she will continue to build that program into something special. She has been there from the very beginning and she was a large part of establishing GU into a continuous champion. I am excited to watch her build it in the future.”
Lynne Roberts (University of the Pacific):
“I’m very happy to see Lisa Fortier be named the next head coach at Gonzaga. Lisa is a great coach and is extremely respected in the profession, as well as in the West Coast Conference. She has been very loyal to Gonzaga University and will no double keep the program on its trajectory of excellence.”
Jaime White (University of Northern Colorado):
“Lisa was a great, young coach for us at Northern Colorado; always organized, energetic, and insightful. She is the perfect person to continue the Gonzaga tradition."