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CU Buffs legend Shelley Sheetz joins women’s basketball program

Sheetz hired as assistant to head coach, director of player development

BOULDER, CO, Feb. 26, 2022: Former ...
Former great Buff, Shelley Sheetz, does the radio color for the University of Colorado Boulder and Oregon State game in Boulder on February 26, 2022. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

The opportunity to return to her alma mater and be involved with the women’s basketball radio broadcasts last season was a thrill for Colorado Buffaloes legend Shelley Sheetz.

CU head coach JR Payne has given Sheetz an even greater opportunity.

Sheetz, who starred at point guard for the Buffs from 1991-95, has been hired as CU’s special assistant to the head coach and director of player development.

“I’m very excited. I feel like I’m coming back home,” said Sheetz, who starts her new job on Tuesday. “I feel like everything’s kind of coming around full circle. … For me to come back in this role, it’s an incredible opportunity.

“I just feel very grateful and appreciative of JR. I think she is a great coach, but an even better person.”

Sheetz is replacing Monica Armstrong, who has left CU because her wife, Akirah J. Bradley-Armstrong, was recently named as a vice chancellor at UC Santa Cruz.

After playing at CU, Sheetz played professionally before beginning her coaching career in 1999 at Washington State. She has also coached at San Diego, Pepperdine, Boston College, Loyola-Maryland and two stints at Denver, most recently during the 2020-21 season.

Last winter, Sheetz joined play-by-play announcer Cory Lopez on the radio broadcasts of CU games. Sheetz provided color commentary.

While Payne and her staff have known Sheetz for years, last season gave CU’s players an opportunity to get to know her, as well. When Armstrong left, Payne saw Sheetz as a perfect fit and the players were ecstatic when they heard the news.

“Our team loves her,” Payne said. “What’s been so wonderful about our staff and being here so long and being together for so long and being so connected, the chemistry on our staff is so great. That really helps our players, I think because there’s a lot of trust in what they say and when they come to one of us. They have that type of trust and love for Shelley already, which is amazing.”

Sheetz’s duties have been determined exactly, but she will be working with alumni and the leadership development program, in addition to helping in other areas.

“The makeup of our staff is just, if there’s a hole, plug it; if there’s something missing, fix it,” Payne said. “It’s wonderful that she’s naturally wired that way and has the ability to step in and help in every single area.

“Outside of our immediate program of players and staff, there’s no one that loves this program and this university more than Shelley Sheetz. … She’s all in. Her heart and soul bleeds black and gold more than anyone I’ve ever met. So that is a wonderful thing.”

Sheetz couldn’t agree more, and she’s eager to work with the players.

“It’s an incredible opportunity,” she said. “Being around the student athletes and to be able to kind of be a mentor and give them guidance on and off the court as they make their way through their four-year career and at a time in their life where you can have such an incredible impact, I take that very serious. The players are fun. They’re really, really good people.”

Sheetz will miss the fun she had doing radio broadcasts with Lopez.

“He was such a great, great mentor in a role,” she said. “I’m just really appreciative of Cory because I think Cory is incredible at what he does. It was so easy working alongside him, so I just want to thank him for that opportunity and kind of kind of bringing me back, too.”

Adding Sheetz is the first of three big hires Payne will make this offseason.

Assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Shandrika Lee recently left CU to embark on a career outside of coaching. Lee had been with Payne for the past eight years, including two seasons at Santa Clara and the last six at CU.

The only other time Payne has had to replace an assistant at CU was after her first year, 2016-17, when Jeff Cammon took the head coaching job at Long Beach State.

CU also recently lost creative design and content manager Matt Kamph, who elevated the women’s basketball program’s graphics and social media profile over the past year. He has accepted a position at Clemson.

“It’s definitely very difficult,” Payne said of losing three beloved members of her staff, “but when you love the people that you work with you, you’re happy for them to have the types of opportunities that they’re jumping into.

“I do think it’s a unique opportunity to add to our staff with new ideas, new ways of doing things and that in and of itself is great.”

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