If you want to get an opinion on how seriously new SM East girls basketball coach Lauren Lawrence takes student athletics, just ask her younger brother, Bishop Miege quarterback Ryan Willis, who will be playing at the University of Kansas next year. Or her younger sister Abby, who played college basketball at Saint Louis University. Or maybe her husband Tyler Lawrence, an SM West grad who was a backup quarterback on KU’s football team during the Orange Bowl season.
Or you could ask Lauren herself. After all, during her stint on the University of Oklahoma women’s basketball team, the Sooners won a Big XII title and made back-to-back trips to the Final Four.
“We definitely have some athletic genes in the Willis-Lawrence families,” she said.
For the past year, Lawrence has been teaching at Raymore-Peculiar High School and serving as the head coach of an eighth grade basketball team in the district. Prior to that, she served as an assistant for the Rockhurst University girls basketball program. When she saw the SM East head coaching job had opened up after the departure of Austin Klumpe, she saw an opportunity to create something special.
“I’m not interested in bouncing around from school to school,” she said. “I want to build a program from the ground up.”
She said SM East’s reputation was a big draw, and she believes she can create an atmosphere of success for the girls program.
“Academically, there’s obviously a great reputation,” she said. “I want to create a culture where there’s a balance between enjoying the game and being competitive.”
And while the girls team hasn’t had a lot of success in the wins department recently, Lawrence sees the success of the Indian Hills eighth grade team as a boon to the high school program.
“I’ve very excited about that success,” she said. “It’s great to have a strong feeder program — I think we’ll see that impact the high school program immediately.”
Lawrence will teach sophomore and junior English classes at SM East.