As head coach of the women’s basketball team at the University of California at Berkeley, Lindsay Gottlieb ’99 has made the transition from a Brown Bear to a Golden one. In her second year in the position, Gottlieb is leading the No. 7 team to a 17-2 record.
The Golden Bears already have five wins against top-25 ranked teams, including a victory over Stanford that snapped Stanford’s 81-game winning streak against conference opponents.
Gottlieb had previously been an assistant coach at Syracuse University, the University of New Hampshire, the University of Richmond and Cal. She was then promoted to associate head coach at Cal before leaving to become head coach at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2008.
In her three seasons at UCSB, she twice led her squad to first place in the Big West Conference and was named the 2009 Big West Coach of the Year. Then, after Joanne Boyle left her post as Cal’s women’s basketball head coach, Gottlieb returned to Berkeley, this time as head coach. In her first season, she led the Golden Bears to a 25-10 record, second-best in the Pac-12 conference.
Gottlieb credits her success to the athletes she coaches.
“We have really good players that have decided it’s important to them to be part of a great team,” she said.
Gottlieb said forming bonds with players is key to her coaching philosophy.
“I think I pride myself in my ability to form relationships,” she said. “I would say the overarching philosophy is my players need to know that I care about them as a human being first — as a real student-athlete.”
Brittany Boyd, a sophomore guard on the team who was named an all-Pac-12 honorable mention last season, said that Gottlieb is “probably one of the most understanding” coaches she has ever had.
“(Gottlieb) has a loving, caring spirit,” Boyd said. “That’s rare for a coach.”
Gottlieb became interested in coaching when she was a shooting guard at Brown. She spent most of her time on the bench but was still able to gain an understanding of the game and of the student-athlete experience, something she said she still uses to this day. Jean Marie Burr, who has been Brown’s head women’s basketball coach since 1989, allowed Gottlieb to “kind of be a student-assistant coach while still playing” when Gottlieb was a senior, she said. Gottlieb’s nickname on the team was even “coachie.”
“I think (my time on the team at Brown) gave me a perspective on basketball and I think it gave me a perspective on the experience of young women,” she said. “That is invaluable to me.”
Following her graduation, Gottlieb’s nickname came to fruition, and she is now coaching one of the top teams in the country. Gottlieb has lofty goals, not just for Cal this season, but also in terms of its reputation beyond this year.
“We want to make a name for ourselves on the national stage and be one of the nation’s elite teams,” Gottlieb said. “Going forward, I want Cal to be a school where, particularly on the West Coast, kids can know they can get one of the best educations in the country and still compete at the highest level in women’s basketball.”
Regardless of whether Cal achieves Gottlieb’s goals, the bonds with her players will remain. Gottlieb’s commitment to her players and her ability to form relationships has made her more than a coach in the eyes of the team, Boyd said.
“(Gottlieb’s) like a coach, a mentor, like a mother,” she said.