Coach Ken Crawford to leave Biola after six years

Ken Crawford, coach of the women’s basketball team, will leave his position this year after coaching at Biola for six years.


Mike Villa

Women’s basketball coach, Ken Crawford is moving back to his Bellingham, Wash. home after six successful seasons with Biola athletics. He will finish with a career record of 94/91 and three trips to the NAIA. | Kelsey Heng/THE CHIMES

Zachary Fu, Writer

Some people spend decades striving to create a lasting legacy, but coach Ken Crawford of the Biola women’s basketball team has accomplished that in just six years. He turned the formerly struggling program into one of the strongest in the Golden State Athletic Conference. Despite the success that he has achieved in turning this program around, his tenure with the Eagles has come to an end with his resignation.

“The Lord put on my heart many times, ‘You did what you were supposed to, but now it’s time for you to go, I have another adventure for you,’” Crawford said.

In his first three seasons at Biola, he produced a record of 29-60, but in his final three seasons, he led the Eagles to a 65-31 record.

Coach shares close bond with his team

Many followers of women’s basketball at Biola know Crawford as the intense man yelling from the sideline. However, beneath this lies a deeper story about a man impacting the lives of young female athletes.

“I owe a lot of my personal growth to Coach and he is definitely someone who will hold a dear place in my heart for all that he has done for me,” junior Lauren Gustafson said.

Crawford has been living away from his wife and two daughters in Bellingham, Wash. throughout coaching at Biola. He knew that somewhere down the line he would leave the team and return home. However, the distance from home did not stop him from treating his team as if they were his own family.

“He truly gave this team his all and changed this program in so many positive ways,” said senior Jennifer French.

Crawford came to Biola to build women’s basketball program

Crawford came to Biola in 2005 with the intention of building the women’s basketball program, which had not been doing well. With the understanding that transforming a program takes time, he persevered despite the team’s losing seasons for the first three years.

“I never worry about winning and losing. I never worry about win-loss records. I worry about building a program,” Crawford said.

High goals for the team

He pushed his team to their highest caliber by setting goals. Every time the team would reach a goal, Crawford would get them together to set another objective. Eventually, the goal was to be NAIA champions, which they are still working to achieve.

For the 2008-2009 season, the team had a breakthrough with a remarkable 20-12 overall record, the first time the team had won 20 games in a season in five years. They also won their first National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics national tournament game by defeating Trevecca Nazarene University in the first round, but were eliminated from the tournament with a second round loss to Lee University.

The Eagles finished the following season with another 20-win record, the first time in 20 years that they had back-to-back 20-win seasons. They made it to the national tournament again but were defeated in the first round by Lewis-Clark State College. In his final season at Biola, he led the Eagles to one of the program’s best records, with a 25-5 record and a third appearance in the NAIA national tournament, where they lost in the first round to William Woods University.

Team understands his reason for leaving

While Crawford’s success on the court is impressive, he says the close bond he shares with his players is the the most important thing that he has gained from this experience. His players knew about the sacrifices that he was making for the team, so they understood that he would eventually make the decision to leave.

“I understand that he needs to get back home to his family, and I can’t even fathom how much he has already given up for this team, but it doesn’t take away the sting of him leaving,” junior Emily Drews said. “His love for each of his players and his faith in God are things that I will always remember.”

Both Drews and Gustafson will spend their senior year playing for assistant coach Bethany Miller — who will be taking the reins of the team next season.

“Coach Crawford has influenced me tremendously through my experience as his assistant coach the last six years. The girls that have played for him have always been challenged to excel, as well as love and care for one another as teammates. I have learned so much from him, and to say that he will be missed doesn’t begin to sum up his work here at Biola,” Miller said.

Although God has called Crawford to leave, he will continue to invest in the relationships he has built at Biola.

“The toughest part about this is leaving the players and the people that I’ve met … if they need something from me, they can call me anytime,” Crawford said.

Even now, Crawford still keeps in touch with every person that has played for him while he was at Biola. He has left his mark at Biola not only through his outstanding accomplishments in the record books, but more importantly, in the lives that he has positively influenced.

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