Monday Sep 08 2014
Married Placer alums coaching Gonzaga women’s college basketball team together
By: Matthew Kimel, Journal sports editor
Former Hillmen hoopsters try to make it back to Earl Crabbe Gym whenever they can
When Lisa Mispley Fortier and her husband, Craig Fortier, sit down for dinner, it’s safe to say the two will be talking about some hoops.
That’s become an even more common trend since Lisa hired Craig to join her coaching staff at Gonzaga.
Lisa, a 1999 Placer High School alumna, was named head coach of the Gonzaga University women’s basketball program in April after being on the team’s staff for the last seven years. In May, she added Craig, also a 1999 Placer grad, to her own staff.
“It’s somewhat unique,” said Craig, who had been the top men’s assistant at Eastern Washington, of working with his wife. “It’s a little more common than people know. There are two other husband-and-wife coaching teams in the West Coast Conference.
“It’s not awkward at all. We’re both hoops junkies. Now we’re just talking about the same players.”
Lisa and Craig, who both played basketball for the Hillmen under current coaches Tony Camillucci and Mark Lee, respectively, first met while shooting some hoops at ARD.
“I remember the courtship,” Camillucci said. “Craig was persistent with her.”
Camillucci also remembers coaching Lisa.
“She was tough as nails,” Camillucci recalled. “A point guard, two guard. She was a defensive specialist, always willing to take a charge. She led our team in charges. She was a very coachable kid. Loved to play and loved to compete.”
Lee enjoyed coaching Craig, who was an all-league player. The two have kept in contact over the years and are friends.
“Craig was a very cerebral player,” Lee said. “He played hard. He was an intense competitor. He was a smart player and fun to have on the team.”
Lisa and Craig always try to make it back to Earl Crabbe Gym in Auburn when they’re in town. And when they do, they like to shoot some hoops together on the historic court.
“We come back for the Kendall (Arnett Tournament) all the time,” Lisa said. It’s the best gym around, that’s for sure. We send everybody we know there to check out our old gym.”
Added Craig: “It’s a special place for us with a lot of great memories. It’s not easy to get down there but we always try to sneak down there.”
Lisa and Craig are both hoping to carry on the tradition of winning at Gonzaga. The Bulldogs have won 10 straight West Coast Conference titles
They both said this year’s team should be pretty good. And since they’re coaching together, the season could be rather emotional.
“I think the highs are going to be a little higher and the lows might be lower,” Lisa said. “But it’s a project with both involved. Anytime you see success with the family and with people who care so much about something it makes it more special.”
Lisa and Craig are enjoying living in Spokane, Wash., comparing the family-friendly vibe to that of Auburn.
With one minor difference: It’s much bigger.
“Everybody cares about each other and it’s a hoops-crazy community,” Craig said.
The city is also the host of the largest 3-on-3 tourney in the world, with 2,500 players each summer.
Lisa and Craig entered the tournament in 2013 for the first time and ended up winning the coed division. They were paired up with Lisa’s dad, Bill Mispley, and brother, Riley Mispley.
In July, Lisa and Craig welcomed their third child, Quincy Marie, to their family, which also includes Marcus, 4, and Calvin, 2.
The Bulldogs’ season starts in November and Lisa and Craig will be making trips to Northern California on Jan. 8 at San Francisco and Jan. 10 at Santa Clara.
“We’re real proud of both of them,” Camillucci said. “I’m super proud of Lisa. That’s a big-time job she has. I think she’s ready for it.”