Recently retired head coach inducted into the St. Edward’s Hall of Fame


Sterns (center) was officially inducted into the St. Edward’s Athletics Hall of Fame by President George E. Martin (left) and Athletic Director Debbie Taylor (right) on Feb. 28.

Recently retired, former tennis Head Coach Russell Sterns was inducted as the 97th member of the St. Edward’s University Hall of Fame and is the 11th coach to be inducted. Sterns coached for nearly 30 years on the Hilltop.

Sterns was officially inducted into the St. Edward’s Athletics Hall of Fame by President George E. Martin and Athletic Director Debbie Taylor on Feb. 28.

“I will always be so grateful to St. Edward’s University for the opportunity they gave me so many years ago,” Sterns said. “I believe there is something very special and unique about our small Catholic university, and to me it will always feel like home.”

Sterns first came to the Hilltop as a student-athlete for his junior and senior years under the direction of hall of fame coach, Brother Emmett Strohmeyer, in 1983.

His team won the conference championship and qualified for the NAIA National Tournament. 

Sterns was a conference finalist his junior year and the conference singles champion his senior year.

He was also the No. 2 ranked tennis player in Texas by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) 35s division, according to the St. Edward’s University Athletics website.

At 27, Sterns replaced his legendary former coach, where he became one of the most accomplished Hilltopper coaches, serving as the men’s coach for 27 years and the women’s coach for 20 years until 2009.

As the second-longest-tenured coach in school history, Sterns’ successful career with the Hilltoppers spanned three conferences: Big State Conference, Heart of Texas Conference and Heartland Conference. His career also spanned two national affiliations: NAIA and NCAA Division II.

“Russell led by example and encouraged his student-athletes to be well-rounded community members who embodied the Holy Cross spirit…” Taylor said during Stern’s induction. “If you were to cut Russell open, he would bleed blue and gold, and I really believe that … Russell is not only a legendary coach, he is a piece of the fabric that weaves St. Edward’s rich of tradition.”

Sterns retired from coaching college tennis at the end of 2013-2014 season. 

However, before then, he managed to compile an impressive 460 victories between the men’s and women’s teams, 18 conference championships and 27 postseason appearances. He would also coach numerous All-Americans and Academic All-Americans.

Coach Sterns was a great coach, and I’m happy I have had the pleasure of working with him. He taught me many things, he knew a great deal about the mental and tactical part of tennis which he shared with us,” junior tennis player, Felix Bake says. “He had a incredible career and I know he is very respected on the Hilltop.”

This competitive-natured, sports-junkie of a coach says he misses his players, the big match rivalries and the “process of players improving through the spring schedule and playing their best tennis at the end of the season when things counted most.”

“Like Lou Gehrig once said, I’ve just always felt like ‘the luckiest man’ in the world to have coached 27 years at my alma mater and in my hometown Austin Texas. Tennis has been very, very good to me,” Sterns adds.

These days, Sterns is enjoying spending time introducing sports to his 18-month-old grandson and is also hoping to combine his interests of real estate and exploring the hill country to flip some homes or ranch properties.