Home grown coach uses empathy, leadership to elevate Alvarado hoops

Mar. 29—For Erica Peteet, a previous Alvarado High School graduate, leading the girls basketball to history means much more than the accomplishments on the court alone. As a graduate of the school and a former player within the program she now coaches, Peteet knows the importance of the historic season she led Alvarado to, which culminated in a 21-16 overall record (10-2 in district play) and a trip to the regional tournament for the first time in program history.

As a result, Peteet was named to the 2024 All-Johnson County Girls Basketball Team as one of the Co-Coaches of the Year.

"It's definitely humbling, especially because my mom played in the program, so it's nice seeing her and others like Joslyn's mom getting excited — Candra's aunt was in the program, too," Peteet said. "Just seeing all those faces in the stands made me realize that what we did was just as much about them as it was about our team — that was a humbling experience in itself."

As a youth of the Alvarado community, Peteet played youth basketball locally and in the AAU circuit. Although she tried to escape her fate, basketball came calling for Peteet even after her days as a Lady Indian student.

"I grew up around basketball thinking it was one of those things where I didn't have a choice," Peteet said. "Just like Candra and Joslyn, I played in AYA and then played AAU basketball. It's funny because I told myself that I didn't want to pursue basketball and, instead, I wanted to go to college to do something different. So, I went to Texas A&M but found myself wanting to be back to Alvarado, giving to my community and building relationships with kids. I love basketball but I love the kids in my community more, so that makes me want to be a better mentor and basketball coach for the kids in our community."

Peteet made her choice to invest in the community she was raised in, and she quickly forged a culture of success, determination and togetherness. In each of the last four seasons, Alvarado has improved its playoff results, which led to history being made in 2024.

"Coming in, one of the things I really wanted to implement was the things of the ideal team player," Peteet said. "Our first thing was about how hungry we were last year. We were very athletic, and when you're hungry you eat. This year, we were a different team after we lost our bigs. This year, our hashtag was 'locked in' because we wanted to be sure we played smart. Going into next year, we are aiming to maintain and build on our accomplishments."

In order to reach new heights, Peteet continued to invest in the relationships with her players. Getting her players to buy into both her and her program helped build Alvarado into what it is today, and the methods she has used combined with her love for shaping young girls into great people coincide with her overall coaching philosophy.

"I love the kids in my community, I want them to be successful and I think that's why I'm so passionate since I was a part of the program when we weren't that great, but I know their potential," Peteet said. "I want our kids to shine and it keeps me passionate about what I do. If that means I need to brush up on my skills as a basketball coach, then I need to do that because I want them to be the best they can be while modeling that myself. At the end of the day, I want them to be great basketball players but also great women in society."

For Alvarado, the fire within the program has never burned brighter, and Peteet hopes to capitalize on that next season and beyond, especially considering the increased recognition the women's game is receiving nationally at all levels.

"We're really hungry because, once you get a taste, you want to get back to that point and go above and beyond," Peteet said. "I think there's a new spark in being excited about girls basketball in Alvarado, which is an excitement we haven't had since the early '90s. A lot of that has to do with looking at what Dawn Staley and others are doing in women's college basketball. I'm excited, I'm energized and I'm pumped because I think girls basketball is finally getting the recognition it deserves and needs."