“We’re very excited that GC is willing to serve as our head women’s basketball coach,” said Athletic Director Laurie Turner. “He will provide continuity to the program. GC has been instrumental in building relationships with both our current student-athletes as well as our recruits. Given these uncertain times, I’m thrilled that he’s willing to step up to this challenge.”
Hillburn takes the reins from Jennifer Childress who is stepping down after seven seasons to take an administrative position within the athletic department as Interim Assistant Athletic Director and Senior Women’s Administrator.
“The program is in excellent hands,” said Childress. “Coach Hillburn has been an integral part of our program’s success over the past two years, impacting not only our x’s and o’s, but more importantly helping us create a positive and competitive culture. He is an excellent skills coach, teacher, and is passionate about the game as well as the student-athletes he works with. I look forward to the new strategies he will implement, and am confident his experience and knowledge will propel PLU basketball towards a very successful future.”
Hillburn is elevated to interim head coach after spending the previous two seasons as an assistant coach for the Lutes. Hillburn’s two seasons saw the Lutes win 25 games, including a 14-10 season in 2018-2019, PLU’s first winning campaign since the 2008-2009 season. His two-year run as an assistant saw three players earn All-Northwest Conference honors and one student-athlete securing CoSIDA Academic All-District accolades. Hillburn was additionally one of 30 coaches from around the nation named a finalist for the Junior NBA Coach of the Year Award in 2019.
“I’m so honored to be given the chance to lead the women’s basketball program at Pacific Lutheran University,” said HIllburn. “I want to thank Laurie Turner for giving me this opportunity and Coach Jennifer Childress for making me part of the PLU program two years ago. Coach Childress developed an outstanding team culture that has allowed this program to take steps forward ever since she arrived on campus. I’m so fortunate to get to take the torch from her and work with what are some of the best student-athletes and people I have ever been around in my career.”
Hillburn came to PLU with 12 years’ experience at the college, AAU, and high school ranks. He previously served as the head coach at Kentlake High School for three seasons. Under his direction, the Falcons compiled a 61-22 record on the hardwood. His tenure included an undefeated SPSL Northwest Conference Championship during the 2015-2016 season, an NPSL Cascade Division Championship in 2016-2017, while finishing sixth at the WIAA 4A Championships in 2018.
Prior to Kentlake, Hillburn was an assistant for three seasons at Northwest Conference rival George Fox University. His tenure saw the Bruins post a 73-13 record, making two trips to the NCAA Division III Tournament, including an appearance in the national championship game in 2015.
“Over the past two years I have come to know that PLU is a very special place, a school with a wonderful tradition and a very bright future ahead where the student body genuinely cares about making everyone on campus their best. I feel so blessed that I get to coach a program that really feels like it embodies home to me as someone who has spent their career in the Tacoma area. I’m so excited to continue my work developing great people first and great basketball players second.”
Hillburn has additional experience as head coach of the Columbia Cascades AAU program (2012-2017) based in Vancouver, Washington and Emerald Ridge High School (2009-2012) in Puyallup. Hillburn serves as the Head Trainer and Director of Basketball Operations for South-End Skills Academy since 2011 and has previously coached junior varsity boys basketball at both Seattle Christian and Skyline High Schools.
Hillburn earned an associate’s degree from Bellevue College before earning a Bachelor’s degree in business from Northwest University.
Hillburn’s official first day as interim head coach will be June 1.