Coach Lee on Hensley:
“We certainly would not enjoy the kind of success we do now without the leadership that Debbie brings to this coaching staff. She is an outstanding leader of young women, and she has helped us attract many of the best players in the country to LSU with her tremendous recruiting ability. Her passion for the sport is unmatched by anyone I’ve ever worked with.”
There is no doubt that in order for a program to compete for championships year in and year out, it must have an outstanding coaching staff in place to guide the way. In 11 seasons as a member of Brian Lee’s staff at LSU, Debbie Hensley has more than proven herself as one of the top assistant coaches in the country while helping lead the Tigers into national prominence as one of the premier programs in the Southeastern Conference.
It is for that reason that Hensley was promoted to the rank of associate head coach before the start of the 2008 campaign as she now enters her 12th season at LSU.
Adding Hensley to his staff was an easy decision for Lee when he took the head coaching position in December 2004 after coaching together at Furman for three years.
“We certainly would not enjoy the kind of success we do now without the leadership that Debbie brings to this coaching staff,” Lee said. “She is an outstanding leader of young women, and she has helped us attract many of the best players in the country to LSU with her tremendous recruiting ability. Her passion for the sport is unmatched by anyone I’ve ever worked with.”
That passion has certainly paid dividends on the field as Hensley has helped build LSU into the championship-contending program it is today. In this new era of SEC soccer, the club has proven itself among the league’s elite since winning its first SEC Western Division championship in 2007. Before returning to the NCAA Tournament for a fifth time in program history in 2015, LSU claimed four SEC West titles and made four trips to the NCAA Tournament in a five-year span during the 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011 seasons.
LSU has also been on the cusp of claiming its first ever SEC Championship with a trio of second-place finishes on the league table during that time. It includes a record-breaking 2009 season during which the Tigers finished in second place in the final conference standings for the second year in a row while tying their school record for wins with a 15-4-5 overall record and establishing a school record output with an 8-2-1 mark and 25 points in SEC play. LSU was close to matching that effort in 2011 as the SEC runner-up again with an 8-3 conference record.
In 2010, the Tigers advanced to the SEC Tournament semifinal for the fourth season in a row, joining the Florida Gators as the only programs in the SEC to advance to the semifinal round of the conference tourney in each season from 2007-10. The Tigers solidified their NCAA resume with another run to the SEC Tournament semifinal in 2015 as the No. 7 overall seed.
Hensley has been a driving force in that success as she has established a reputation as one of the nation’s top recruiters attracting many of the best players in the country to Baton Rouge.
She led the way in LSU signing its first ever Top 25 recruiting class in 2005 as the Tigers were ranked No. 25 on the recruiting trail in her first season on staff. Hensley followed that effort in 2006 by helping Lee sign the first Top 10 recruiting class in the program’s history with a crop of future stars ranked No. 7 nationally in the Soccer Buzz Magazine recruiting rankings.
The Class of 2006 is the most decorated class in the history of the LSU Soccer program as it completed its eligibility in 2009 with a class record of 50 wins in four seasons from 2006-09. The group captured three SEC West titles, earned three NCAA Tournament selections, placed No. 2 in the final SEC standings twice and combined for 10 All-America and 12 All-SEC picks in four seasons in Baton Rouge.
A foundation is in place for the Tigers to compete at the highest level of college soccer for years to come after welcoming three-straight recruiting classes to Baton Rouge for the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons that were all rated among the Top 15 nationally on National Signing Day.
The Tigers will line up with an international flair in 2016 as this year’s squad features 10 players with international experience as products of the Women’s National Team systems in Australia, Canada, Colombia, England, New Zealand and the United States.
“There’s no doubt that recruiting is the lifeblood of any program at this level, and we are certainly fortunate to have someone like Debbie leading our recruiting efforts,” Lee said. “She is an outstanding evaluator of talent and has the ability to target the players we feel can thrive in our program both on and off the field. That’s been a key in building the foundation we have now.”
Hensley compiled a 60-52-9 record in six years at Western Carolina after starting the program from scratch prior to the 1999 season. She led the Catamounts to a 10-9-1 record and a Southern Conference Tournament appearance in her inaugural season and was named the SoCon Coach of the Year in 2001 after guiding the team to the Southern Conference regular season title with a 16-6 overall record and 8-2 mark in league play.
Hensley coached seven players to 11 All-Southern Conference honors in her time at Western Carolina, a total that includes three first-team selections. In addition to her duties as head coach of the program, Hensley also served as university’s Assistant Athletics Director and Senior Woman Administrator.
Prior to her stint at WCU, Hensley spent three seasons as an assistant coach under Lee at Furman where she recruited eight players who earned all-conference accolades in their careers.
Along with her coaching achievements, Hensley garnered recognition during her athletic career as a soccer and softball standout at Georgia Southern where she was a three-time first-team All-SoCon selection and led the conference in scoring as both a junior and a senior.
Hensley was selected to play in the Umbro Select College All-Star Classic after being named an NSCAA Regional All-American and All-Region honoree in 1995, and she was named the Georgia Female College Athlete of the Year by the Georgia Hall of Fame the same year.
The two-sport standout was also a first-team all-conference selection in softball as she set the Georgia Southern career record for stolen bases and runs scored. Hensley’s performance as a student-athlete at Georgia Southern earned her an induction into the GSU Athletics Hall of Fame this year as part of the University’s Class of 2016.
Hensley graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education from Georgia Southern in 1996 and a master’s degree in health and exercise science from Furman in 1998.
Playing and Coaching Experience
Years Capacity School
1993-95 Player Georgia Southern
1996-98 Assistant Coach Furman
1999-2004 Head Coach Western Carolina
2004-07 Assistant Coach LSU
2008-present Associate Head Coach LSU
Head Coaching Record