FGCU's first two-time Atlantic Sun All-Conference first team selection (basketball) and former standout in both basketball and volleyball, Chelsea Lyles enters her second season as an assistant at Florida Gulf Coast under head coach Karl Smesko, after accepting the position in July 2011.
Lyles helped lead the Eagles to a solid 2012-13 season. FGCU became the first school to go undefeated in A-Sun play in back-to-back seasons, finishing the season with the most victories (27) of the 13 Division I institutions in the state of Florida and capturing the program’s third consecutive A-Sun Regular Season crown. Led by 2013 A-Sun Player and Scholar-Athlete of the Year Sarah Hansen and 2013 A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year Brittany Kennedy, FGCU also secured the ninth-straight 21+ win in program history and participated in their sixth consecutive Division I postseason tournament (WNIT). Leading the nation and the Atlantic Sun in three-point field goals per game (9.4), for the second year in a row, the Green and Blue ranked in the top 40 in the country in 13 different statistical categories in the final NCAA rankings.
Less than 14 months after tying the all-time NCAA record and setting the 2011-12 NCAA single-game high with 21 three-pointers on 51 long range attempts in their 106-27 over NAIA foe Webber International on Nov. 28, 2011 at Alico Arena, the Eagles knocked down 22 triples in a 97-60 win at ETSU on Jan. 12, 2013. Prior to breaking the record, the Eagles, who own the NCAA Division I single season record for three-pointers (342; 2011-12), were tied for first place all-time with New Mexico State, who drained 21 triples against Louisiana-Lafayette on Feb. 23, 2002. The NCAA Division I record 22 three-point makes are also a program and Atlantic Sun Conference best, as FGCU made 10 treys in the first half and 12 in the second. The Green and Blue hit 12-of-23 (52.2 percent) triples in the final frame in which they outscored the Lady Bucs 46-35.
In 2011-12, Lyles helped the Green and Blue wrap up the most historic season in its Division I history, winning the program’s first Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament Championship, advancing to the NCAA Tournament and earning a No. 12 seed in the Raleigh Region. FGCU finished with a 29-3 overall record that included a league-first 18-0 mark in the A-Sun. The Green and Blue, with their seven trifectas vs. St. Bonaventure in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, set the NCAA record for three-pointers in a season (342), while also setting the Division I record for three-point field goals made per game (10.7).
The Eagles verified the conference’s third-ever unbeaten regular season by cruising through the Atlantic Sun Tournament, taking the league’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament with a convincing 67-39 win over second-seeded and 20-game winner Stetson. The Green and Blue’s success at the conference tournament cemented FGCU’s name in the A-Sun record books. Making their first A-Sun postseason appearance in their first year of postseason eligibility, the Eagles became the third team in A-Sun history to win the Atlantic Sun Championship in its first appearance, while also becoming the second team to post an A-Sun undefeated regular season and win the championship title.
Finishing her eligibility on the basketball court after the 2009-10 campaign, Lyles returned to Fort Myers last year, exhausting her final season of collegiate eligibility on the volleyball court while serving as a student assistant for Smesko.
As a fifth-year senior for the 2010 FGCU volleyball squad, Lyles started all 26 matches at middle blocker. She registered seven or more kills on 17 occasions and recorded at least one block in 22 matches. She also finished the campaign as FGCU’s leader in blocks (66), kills (205), and hitting percentage (.301). Lyles hit .331, averaged 2.95 kills/set and averaged 3.37 points per set in conference play to rank third, seventh and ninth, respectively, in A-Sun play.
Lyles spent the 2010-11 season as a student assistant for the Eagles and was a part of a staff that helped lead FGCU to an Atlantic Sun Conference regular season crown after posting a 28-4 overall record (17-3 A-Sun). The Blue and Green also earned an automatic bid to the WNIT, led the nation in three point field goals made per game (10.9) and had an A-Sun All-Conference first team and second team selections in Shannon Murphy and Sarah Hansen.
A native of Colorado Springs, Col., Lyles played for coach Smesko from 2008-2010, where she helped the Eagles win one A-Sun regular season crown and earn back-to-back WNIT automatic bids. A two-time A-Sun All-Conference first team selection, she led the Eagles to a 50-12 overall record and 34-6 conference record in her two seasons in the blue and green. Lyles ranks fifth in the FGCU career record books in field goals made (273) and three-point field goals made (113), and sixth in points (839) and rebounds (337).
As a senior captain, Lyles scored in double figures 21 times and finished the 2009-10 campaign in the top 15 in eight different A-Sun statistical categories, including eighth in scoring (13.0), eighth in three-pointers per game (1.8), 11th in blocked shots (23), 12th in field goal percentage (.415), 12th in free throw percentage (.771) and 15th in rebounding (5.5). The recipient of the FGCU Athletic Department’s 2009-10 Most Outstanding Female Student-Athlete Award, Lyles led the Eagles to non-conference wins over UCF, Cornell, George Washington, Texas El-Paso (UTEP), Tulsa and Florida during the season.
Prior to her time as a member of the Blue and Green, Lyles was a two-sport athlete at Western Nebraska CC. She was a member of the 2007 volleyball National Championship squad, was named first team All-Region in basketball and volleyball, led the Cougars in scoring and rebounding in her second season with the team and was named Honorary Captain of the first team All-Nebraska Jr. College Team as a sophomore.
As a three-sport athlete (volleyball, basketball, track) at Harrison High School, Lyles was a high jump state champion, a first team All-Area and second team All-State volleyball player and the 2006 Colorado Springs basketball Player of the Year.
Lyles is a 2010 graduate of FGCU where she received a bachelor’s degree in Communication.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT LYLES:
"Chelsea has a bright future as a coach. She is both knowledgeable and enthusiastic."
- Karl Smesko, FGCU Head Women's Basketball Coach
"Chelsea is a bright, energetic, engaging person who will succeed at anything she does. Her ability to learn volleyball on the fly and pick up systems so quickly proved how much of an outstanding sports IQ she has. She interacts really well with people and with her attention to detail and excellent work ethic she will be a wonderful addition to Coach Smesko’s already outstanding staff."
- Dave Nichols, FGCU Head Volleyball Coach
"Chelsea embodies qualities that seem to have been lost in some youth today; character developed through a hard work ethic; dedication to a noble cause, and commitment to teamwork. Chelsea continues to uplift those around her to be better than they thought possible. She teachers people to win not only on the basketball court, but also the court of life."
– John Register, Associate Director Community and Veterans Programs, United States Olympic Committee