Record: 28-6 Home: 13-2 Away: 10-3 Neutral: 5-1 TranSouth: 14-2
Dale Neal
Dale Neal Image
Dale Neal - Head Coach - 18th Season
Dale Neal begins his 42nd year of coaching and his 18th season at the helm of the Lady Lion basketball program, having compiled a record of 444-151 and a winning percentage of .746 at FHU.

Few programs in the NAIA have seen the levels of success and consistency that Neal has brought to Freed-Hardeman in the last 15 years. Over that time frame, the Lady Lions are one of only two programs to have won at least 20 games and competed in the NAIA National Tournament every year. Only three schools can claim each accomplishment by itself.

The Lady Lion basketball program instantly turned around when Neal came to Freed-Hardeman. In his first season in 1995, the Lady Lions finished a then school-record 21-9. Two years later, the team set a new record by winning 26 games and making the school's first ever appearance in the NAIA National Tournament and winning its first game, 76-63 over East Central Oklahoma.  

In 1999, the Lady Lions again won 26 games and made a Cinderella run through the national tournament, knocking off No. 2 Wayland Baptist (Texas) University and No. 7 University of Auburn at Montgomery to reach the Fab Four. The dream of a national championship ended there with a loss to eventual champion Oklahoma City, but the deep run still helped put FHU women's basketball on the national radar for years to come.
 

The program took another step forward in the 2002-03 season. With a freshman-heavy lineup, the Lady Lions won 30 games for the first time in school history. The season, however, finished with a loss in the TranSouth Conference title game and a first-round exit in the national tournament leaving Neal and his still-young team more determined entering the next season.  

That next season brought about more history at Freed-Hardeman. After five runner-up finishes in the TranSouth Conference tournament in Neal's tenure, the Lady Lions finally broke through and brought a championship banner to the Sports Center with a dominating 81-63 win over Union (Tenn.) University. It was the first of three consecutive conference championships for FHU.  

The Lady Lions, meanwhile, advanced to the Elite Eight of the national tournament in each of those three seasons and set a new school record for wins in a season after going 32-3 in 2005-06.

Coach Neal was named the TranSouth Conference's Coach of the Year each season during that remarkable four-year stretch that saw FHU post a combined record of 123-21 overall and 49-7 in conference play.


Two years later, the Lady Lions almost cracked the 30-win barrier again in the midst of another run through the NAIA National Tournament, which saw them make their second trip to the Fab 4 after winning three games in fewer than 48 hours.

In the 2009-10 season, Freed-Hardeman added another first to its record of accomplishments when the Lady Lions defeated No. 1 Union (Tenn.) University in the finals of the TranSouth Conference tournament, marking the first time that any FHU team had defeated a team ranked No. 1 nationally. It was also the first time in conference history that the top-seeded team did not win the conference tournament.  

Even better things were to follow in 2010-11 as the Lady Lions went 27-9 and made their third trip to the NAIA Fab Four behind the play of Meribeth Boehler, who was named the NAIA National Player of the Year. The Lady Lions also handed a No. 1 ranked team another loss, defeating Union on FHU's home floor in February. Freed-Hardeman's postseason run ended in the national semifinals at the hands of eventual champion Asuza Pacific (Calif.) University.

Neal holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harding University ('69) and a Master of Physical Education degree from the University of Nebraska ('80). He coached the men's basketball team at York College in Nebraska for 11 years, where his teams combined record was 234-96 (.709), before coming to FHU. Neal received seven coach of the year awards, including an NJCAA Region IX Coach of the Year award, while at York.

Neal and his wife, Kathy, reside in Henderson and have four children and 13 grandchildren.
 
2011-12 Women's Basketball Roster
#NameCl.Pos.Ht.HometownPrevious School
2Brittany MontgomerySOG5-8Bath Springs, Tenn.Scotts Hill HS
3Shelby TaylorSOG5-4Livingston, Tenn.Livingston Academy
5Hannah ParsleySRG5-8Rector, Ark.Rector HS
12Kenley Crowell*FRG5-11Hohenwald, Tenn.Lewis Co. HS
14Amber AlexanderFRF5-11Grand Blanc, Mich.Oakland Christian School
20Ashley TateJRG5-6Memphis, Tenn.Tennessee State Univ.
21Karissa DyerSOP6-3Baxter, Tenn.Upperman HS
22Cynthia WoodwardSOG5-7Smithville, Tenn.DeKalb Co. HS
23Grace Alonso de ArminoFRP6-1Bilbao, SpainKnoxville West HS
24Layce ColterFRG5-6Red Boiling Springs, Tenn.Red Boiling Springs HS
32Maria BagwellJRF5-7Nashville, Tenn.Hume-Fogg Magnet HS
33Chynna Helton*FRG5-5Hohenwald, Tenn.Lewis Co. HS
35Natalie ShumpertJRG5-4Paducah, Ky.Paducah Tilghman HS
40Summer WaggonerJRF5-10Chapel Hill, Tenn.Forrest HS
42Hayley NewbyFRF6-0Knoxville, Tenn.Farragut HS
44Lacrisha BaugusFRP6-0Hohenwald, Tenn.Lewis Co. HS
55Jenilee PateSRP5-10Rutherford, Tenn.Rhodes College
* Redshirt
Anna Huckaby - Grad Assistant - 1st season
Mike Milligan - Student Assistant - 1st season
Tabatha Peace - Student Assistant - 1st season
Lauren Cantrell - Student Assistant - 1st season
Dale Neal - Head Coach - 18th season
Kristin Kirby - Student Assistant - 4th season
Jana Pearson - Assistant Coach - 2nd season
Cassie Starling - Student Assistant - 2nd season