Belmont’s search for a women’s soccer coach is over.
Exactly two months after Lisa Howe’s controversial exit, the university announced Heather Henson, who spent the last 12 years heading up East Tennessee State University’s program, has been hired.
“Heather Henson brings a wealth of experience and a proven track record of success to our program,” Belmont Director of Athletics Mike Strickland said in a release. “Her commitment to student-athlete development, academics and service speaks for itself.”
Henson replaces Howe, who left Belmont on Dec. 2 after six years at the helm. The school initially announced that Howe had resigned and then, the next day, issued another statement saying the university and Howe mutually agreed to part ways. All of that came just a week after she disclosed to her team that she and her same-sex partner were having a baby.
The situation drew local and national media attention, with Howe’s former players, Belmont students and area politicians speaking out against the university. Just last week, Belmont President Bob Fisher announced the addition of the words “sexual orientation” to its non-discrimination policy, which protects student, faculty and staff.
“This is about Belmont and who we are and who we want to be and what we think of one another,” Fisher said of the policy change.
Henson leaves a Lady Bucs program that went 8-7-3 in 2010 and fell in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Sun tournament. During her tenure, she led the Lady Bucs into the conference playoffs seven times and had 21 student-athletes earn all-conference recognition. She also helped the program transition into the Atlantic Sun Conference, which Belmont plays in, in 2005. Since then, 97 women’s soccer players earned academic all-conference honors, including 22 of the 24 players this past fall.
Prior to her time at ETSU, Henson spent four years as the head coach of High Point University in North Carolina. She compiled 22 victories and back-to-back Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference before as the program rose from Division II to Division I.
Henson, a native of Dallas and graduate of North Carolina-Greensboro, is also the head coach of the Tennessee State Team for the Olympic Development Program (ODP).
“I am honored to join the Belmont family, and I know the team is ready to get to work,” Henson said. “My focus now is the success of Belmont’s women’s soccer team and our players.”