“I’m excited for this opportunity to work with the NIU family and the Huskie basketball program,” Carlsen said. “It was clear to me on my visit that NIU has a real chance to elevate itself to the next level. I want to thank Director of Athletics Sean T. Frazier for allowing me this wonderful opportunity to coach at Northern Illinois University. This is a great move for my family and I look forward to getting to work with this current team and instilling the expectation of competing for, and winning, Mid-American Conference Championships.”
In eight seasons at Lewis, Carlsen guided the Flyers to a 148-89 record, four NCAA Division II tournament appearances and two Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) championships.
“When we began the search for our next head women’s basketball coach at NIU, we were looking for someone who was the right fit to lead the resurgence of our program,” Frazier said. “Lisa Carlsen has a proven record of success, an understanding of the educational mission of our university and the integrity and values to get the job done here at NIU. I have no doubt that Lisa is the right person at the right time to lead our student-athletes and compete for championships in the years to come.”
This past season, Lewis posted a 31-3 record and reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament; Carlsen was honored as the 2015 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division II National Coach of the Year. The Flyers started the season on a 23-game winning streak and spent five weeks ranked number one in the nation. Along with earning national coach of the year honors, Carlsen was also named GLVC Coach of the Year, Illinois Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) Women’s Collegiate Coach of the Year and WBCA Region IV Division II Coach of the Year.
The 2014-15 season was the culmination of an outstanding three-year period during which Carlsen guided the Flyers to a 78-15 mark and three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.
Carlsen led the Flyers to the best turnaround in the nation in Division II during the 2012-13 campaign, recording a 24-6 mark. Lewis won the GLVC East Division and tournament championships and earned a trip to the NCAA tournament. Carlsen was named the GLVC Coach of the Year and was also the IBCA Women’s Collegiate Coach of the Year.
In 2013-14, Lewis went 23-6 and reached the second round of the NCAA tournament. Carlsen was named the 2014 IBCA Women’s Collegiate Co-Coach of the Year and the WBCA Region IV Division II Coach of the Year.
During her tenure with the Flyers, Carlsen mentored two All-Americans, two conference players of the year, four all-region honorees and 10 all-conference award winners. In eight seasons at Lewis, Carlsen’s program had a 100 percent graduation rate; she also served as the Senior Woman Administrator at Lewis from 2007-13.
A native of Earling, Iowa, Carlsen began her basketball coaching career at Nebraska Omaha as an assistant in 1998-99 and 1999-2000. Carlsen was promoted to head coach at Omaha prior to the 2000-01 season and led the Mavericks to postseason play in 2003, recording the program’s best finish since the 1991-92 season. In 12 seasons combined between Lewis and Omaha, Carlsen has a career record of 184-163.
Following her tenure at Omaha, Carlsen spent three seasons as the associate head coach at Winona State, helping guide the Warriors to a 12-win improvement before taking the reins at Lewis prior to the 2007-08 season.
Before coaching basketball, Carlsen coached both softball and volleyball collegiately. She served as the head softball coach at the College of St. Mary (Neb.) from 1994-97 and was twice named the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year. Carlsen then worked as an assistant volleyball coach and head softball coach at Wayne State (Neb.) during the 1997-98 school year. She complied a career record of 120-51 as a softball coach.
A 1992 graduate of Northwest Missouri State, Carlsen was a four-time all-conference basketball honoree while also earning all-conference and all-region honors as a softball player. During her senior year, Carlsen was named the 1992 Champion NCAA Female Athlete of the Year. She went on to earn her master’s degree from Omaha in 1994 and played basketball professionally for the Nebraska Express of the Women’s Basketball Association from 1992-95 and was named an all-star in 1995.