After 32 years as an assistant coach for the University of Montana women’s basketball team, Annette Rocheleau is stepping down.
She confirmed the news Thursday. As a two-year Lady Griz player, junior varsity coach and full-time assistant, Rocheleau has been part of all but 13 of head coach Robin Selvig’s 798 wins.
“I’ve had the best job in the world,” Rocheleau said. “It’s been awesome and I can’t imagine doing anything else.
“Sometimes it’s a good time to move on and do some new things. I’m just ready for a change. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to enjoy my family in July with all the camps we’ve had. Then in August it starts up and we’re there every weekend for eight months.”
Rocheleau will still be involved with the Lady Griz camps this month. She will leave her position on June 30.
Rocheleau is the longest-tenured assistant coach in NCAA Division I women’s basketball. She holds that title by a four-year margin over Connecticut’s Chris Dailey and Stanford’s Amy Tucker.
“Obviously it’s been a great run,” Montana coach Robin Selvig said. “We’ve been awfully fortunate to have someone stay that long and do the job she’s done. She’s been involved in everything we’ve done.
“We’re going to miss her. For me, everything I’ve gone through as a coach I’ve gone through with her basically, all but one year. It’s going to be different. It’s an emotional thing for me. It’s just been a long time with her.”
Selvig said that a replacement would not be hired for the coming season. He will add a graduate assistant to his staff, which includes Shannon Schweyen and Trish Duce, and may fill Rocheleau’s position the following year.
“It had to do with the timing of it and the contract,” Selvig noted.
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Formerly Annette Whitaker, Rocheleau arrived at Montana as a walk-on in 1979. She made the Lady Griz team and became the starting point guard and team captain her first (junior) season under Selvig.
A transfer from Wenatchee Valley (Wash.) Junior College, Rocheleau was also the team captain as a senior and was named most inspirational player on Montana’s first 20-win team (22-8) and first regular-season conference champion (Mountain Division of the Northwest Women’s Basketball League).
Her experience playing for Selvig was an asset as a Lady Griz coach.
“Annette was always a tremendously giving coach,” former Montana guard Lauren Beck said. “If you had a question or needed something explained better she was always two steps ahead of you, making sure you grasped what they were trying to teach.
“As Rob’s right-hand woman she knew what he wanted to run and was always on the same page with him. It was nice having a coach who made sure everybody was on the same page. Rob is also really good at communicating what he wants but Annette does it in a little different way.”
Rocheleau used the word “bittersweet” to describe her departure. She says she won’t miss the travel but it’s not easy to say goodbye.
She will be missed by the Lady Griz team, according to Selvig.
“She knew the game extremely well and loved teaching it,” he said. “She just loves basketball.”