ATLANTA – Mercer women's basketball head coach Susie Gardner was selected as the Atlanta Tipoff Club's 2019 Georgia College Women's Coach of the Year, the organization announced Wednesday.
Also honored by the Tipoff Club were Georgia Southern's Tookie Brown and University of Georgia's Caliya Robinson, who were named the 2019 Georgia College Basketball Players of the Year. Additionally, former Georgia State coach Ron Hunter was named the men's college coach of the year. The winners were chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's board of selectors, which based its decisions on season-long performances.
"I am humbled and appreciative to be recognized by the Atlanta Tipoff Club for this amazing honor," Gardner said. "Although this appears to be an individual award, the record-breaking season that our team had this year would not have occurred without my staff. Ben, Kaitlyn and Sydni worked tirelessly on and off the court by navigating through all the challenges of the season.
"We are all appreciative to those that work behind the scenes that are never recognized publicly, but our staff knows who those individuals are. Our senior class is the reason for the on-court success, as they led by example and showed our younger players what the 'Mercer Way' looks like."
Gardner, who recently completed her ninth season at Mercer's helm, led the Bears to their second consecutive NCAA Tournament berth and a fourth straight Southern Conference title in the 2018-19 season. Mercer won at least 25 games for the third straight season, going 25-7 overall and 14-0 in conference play. Gardner has led Mercer to 34 consecutive SoCon regular season victories, a streak that started on Feb. 4, 2017.
"Every award Susie receives is well-deserved, and to be named the top college women's basketball coach in the state of Georgia is no exception," said Director of Athletics Jim Cole. "Susie's commitment to excellence and improving each day is unparalleled and we're proud of what she has built with her program."
Gardner was named the 2018-19 SoCon Coach of the Year and has earned the honor in two consecutive seasons and three times in the last four years. She is the first coach to repeat as SoCon Coach of the Year since Appalachian State's Darcie Vincent (2019-10, 2010-11). Gardner is the program's all-time winningest coach with 169 victories in nine seasons at Mercer.
About the Atlanta Tipoff Club
Founded during the 1956-57 season, the Atlanta Tipoff Club is committed to promoting the game of basketball and recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of those who make the game so exciting. The Atlanta Tipoff Club administers the Naismith Awards, which have become the most prestigious national honors in all of college basketball. Named in honor of Dr. James Naismith, inventor of the game of basketball, the Naismith Trophy recognizes the top Men's and Women's College Basketball Players of the Year. Other Naismith Awards are presented to the Men's and Women's College Basketball Coaches of the Year, Boys' and Girls' High School Basketball Players and Coaches of the Year, Basketball Officials and Outstanding Contributors to the game.