(Editor's note: University of Providence athletics release)
GREAT FALLS -- University of Providence women's basketball head coach Bill Himmelberg has announced that Great Falls High and Montana State alumna Daron Park has joined the University of Providence staff. The hire will give Park the opportunity to call Great Falls home for the first time since graduating from Great Falls High in 1989. After leaving Great Falls, Park went on to receive his bachelor's degree in health enhancement from Montana State in 1994 before embarking on a tremendously successful coaching career that has taken him all over the country, coaching women's college basketball at the highest level. Park's record as a Division I assistant coach is a remarkable 242-98 overall and 128-48 in conference play, with six conference championships, 10 postseason berths, including 7 trips to the NCAA Tournament (three Elite Eight finishes) in 11 years.
"It is so exciting to welcome back Daron to Great Falls," said Himmelberg. "He is an amazing coach and no one in the NAIA gets an opportunity to work with a coach that has the experience and knowledge Daron will bring to Providence. He has coached at the highest level of college basketball and for him to choose to come to Providence to work says a lot about the direction of our program and our athletic department."
Park comes to Providence from Middle Tennessee State University where he helped Hall of Fame Coach Rick Insell and the Lady Raiders to two postseason appearances in two seasons. Park's official title last season was Coordinator of Operations and Player Development and MTSU had an outstanding season, going 23-11 with a second-round appearance in the WNIT tournament.
"First and foremost, I would like to thank Coach Himmelberg and Vice President for Athletics Dave Gantt for this opportunity. It is a dream come true for me to coach basketball in the city and the state that I love. Coaching and teaching is my passion, plain and simple, and to have an opportunity to do what you love in your hometown, surrounded by great people you have known for years is incredibly special," said Park. "I also want to thank (MTSU Head Coach) Rick Insell, Athletic Director Chris Massaro, President Dr. Sidney McPhee and all the coaches, staff and players at MTSU. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Tennessee and have a special place in my heart for Blue Raider Athletics. I will always be 'True Blue.'"
Prior to Middle Tennessee, Park served four years as head coach at Cal State Fullerton. Before his head coaching tenure at Cal State Fullerton, Park had stops USC and at California, where, under the tutelage of Lindsey Gottlieb, he helped guide the Golden Bears to a 25-10 overall mark and their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 4 seasons.
Prior to Cal, Park earned his first associate coaching job in 2009 when he served as an associate head coach at LA Tech for two seasons (2009-11) and helped lead the Lady Techsters to two 20-win seasons and two straight NCAA Tournament berths. The Lady Techsters also captured the school's first WAC Tournament championship since the 2005-06 campaign during Park's tenure.
During his time at LA Tech, Park worked closely with Lady Techster post players Shanavia Dowdell (WNBA second round, 2010, Washington Mystics) and Adrienne Johnson (WNBA third round, 2011, Connecticut Sun) who both went on to play professionally in the WNBA.
Park went to LA Tech after spending two years as an assistant coach on Brenda Frese's staff at Maryland where he was an integral part of the Terrapins success, helping them to a pair of Elite Eight appearances while claiming an ACC regular season and tournament title. During his first season with Maryland, Park served as the interim head coach while Frese was pregnant with twins. The Park-led Terps went 29-2, including the programs lone win at Duke University in the Brenda Frese era.
He was instrumental in helping Maryland earn a pair of top-five national rankings, a preseason WNIT championship, two No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament and 64 victories, including a 24-4 mark in ACC games. Park coached 2 WBCA First Team All-Americans and 4 WNBA First round draft picks at Maryland including the 2008 Nancy Leiberman Award winner Kristi Toliver
Before arriving at Maryland, Park got his Division I start as an assistant at Utah from 2004-07, where he helped guide the Utes to a 72-29 overall record, including 2 Mountain West championships, two NCAA Tournament appearances and a trip to the Elite Eight in his three years as an assistant. Park was responsible for guard development at Utah and had 2 players (Kim Smith, Shona Thorburn) drafted in the first round of the WNBA draft in 2006.
Park launched his collegiate coaching career in 1999 as an assistant at NAIA Westminster College. He then went on to serve as the head coach for the Griffins from 2000-04.