A Look Back At The Legendary Career Of Joe Legerski
Joe Legerski has always been a Wyoming guy. Born and raised in Rock Springs, he was a star athlete in high school. After graduating from the University of Wyoming in 1979, Legerski returned to his alma mater and began his coaching career at Rock Springs High School. 40 years later, he will be remembered among the best coaches in the history of the Cowboy State.
Legerski spent five years as an assistant for the Rock Springs boys' basketball team before he was named head coach for the girls' team in 1984. Two years later, he took over the program at Western Wyoming Community College. In 1987, he returned to UW, serving as the Cowgirls assistant under Chad Lavin for four seasons. In 1992, Legerski left Laramie for Logan, starting out as an assistant and later becoming associate head coach at the University of Utah.
In 2003, the University of Wyoming picked Legerski to succeed outgoing coach Cindy Fisher. In 16 seasons, Legerski won a school record 314 games, led the Cowgirls to nine postseason appearances, including Wyoming's first WNIT Championship in 2007 and a birth in the NCAA Tournament in 2008. Along the way, Legerski was named the Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year three times.
Legerski's teams were known for their tenacious defense and an innovative motion offense that wore out opponents.
"We’ve really mastered the motion offense, and I think it’s really hard to guard,” forward Marta Gomez told the Casper Star-Tribune earlier this year.
Gomez was a key member of the 2018-'19 team that won 25 games, advancing to the finals of the Mountain West Conference Tournament and the WNIT quarterfinals. Legerski capped his career with three straight 20-win seasons and WNIT appearances. It was a fitting end for the greatest era in the history of the program.
More than the wins, Legerski's biggest accomplishment was the excitement his teams created. The Arena-Auditorium has never been louder than it was on March 31, 2007, when 15,462 fans packed the Dome of Doom to see Coach Joe and Cowgirls beat Wisconsin for the WNIT Championship. It was a moment that many Wyoming sports fans will never forget.