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Pride Month: Coach Laura Beeman

Women’s Basketball has provided one of the biggest stages for women athletes. This past NCAA Women’s final game had 24 million viewers, making it the most watched basketball game (men’s or women’s, college or pro) since 2019! One NCAA head coach is steadily guiding her team closer to reaching the big stage. Laura Beeman, Head Coach of the UH Wahine Basketball Program, has helped lead our Wahine to Conference Champions the past three years.* 


UH Women's Basketball began in 1974, shortly after Title IX regulations came into effect requiring that support for female-dedicated athletics programs equal that of male-dedicated programs, especially at the collegiate level. Patsy Dung, a pioneer in Hawai'i women's sports, was hired by UH women's athletic director Dr. Donnis Thompson in 1974 to lead the university's new women's basketball program. She coached while also teaching at Farrington High School, guiding the inaugural Rainbow Wahine squad to a 4-2 record in the 1974-75 season. Sadly, Dung recently passed away March 4, 2024 at the age of 87. 


Since Dung, mostly men have headed the Wahine basketball program, until Dana Takahara-Dias was given the helm in 2009. But Wahine Basketball was transformed when Laura Beeman left her assistant coaching position with the NBA Sparks to become Head Coach of the UH Wahine Basketball Program in 2012. ​​Although victories are the prize, Beeman prioritizes preparing her players for life's challenges. She focuses on instilling values like integrity, advocating for what's just, and standing up for principles. 


Beeman, an openly gay woman, understands the necessity of being genuine to fully contribute in the workplace and world. She has shared about her journey of self-acceptance and authenticity, aiming to empower her players to embrace their identities and excel both on and off the court. Being herself and fostering excellence has earned her the prestigious title of Big West Coach of the Year, marking her third recognition.


In her free time, Beeman volunteers with at-risk youth alongside her partner, Carla Houser. Houser serves as the executive director of RYSE (Residential Youth Services & Empowerment) Hawaii, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting at-risk and homeless youth and young adults up to 24 years old. While not specifically an LGBTQIA+ youth focused organization, they are known for especially assisting queer young people. Over 20% of the clients they serve identify as LGBTQIA+. Beeman also brings her team into the classrooms and community, encouraging them to give back however they can - coaching clinics, sharing their journeys to being college athletes, and simply reading to kids. Her ability to support the team off the court and prioritize more than just winning games has been key to Beeman’s success as a Head Coach. 


Let's support women in sports! Get ready to rally behind Beeman and our UH Wahine in next year’s basketball season! With Beeman as coach, next year could bring us closer to an NCAA Championship Game. And deservingly so, the Women's NCAA Final might once again outshine the Men’s in viewership! Let’s also celebrate the contributions of Laura Beeman, a proud LGBTQIA+ woman. Beeman’s dedication to being her genuine self and encouraging her players to do the same, has no doubt created an environment for success, both on and off the court.

 

*2021-22 Conference Regular Season and Conference Tournament Champion, 2022-23 Conference Tournament Champion, 2023-24 Conference Regular Season Champion



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