The Razorback women’s basketball team has gone through a number of changes throughout the years. One former player has seen it all, as her love for the Hogs led to a career with the program that’s lasted much longer than her days on the court. Once the season ends, she’ll have concluded her 30th year on Arkansas’ staff.
Amber Shirey was a point guard for the Razorbacks from 1989-1992 when the Razorbacks were still in the Southwest Conference. The program switched to the Southeastern Conference in her senior year. She befriended Razorback women’s basketball coach Mike Neighbors in college when the two were students, and they were in the same graduating class. She was a competitive person in college, and she hasn’t changed over time, Neighbors said.
“She was fiery,” Neighbors said. “If you walk through the airport, you may not pick her out as the fireball, but she was the undisputed leader of her teams.”
Shirey grew up in Newark, Arkansas, a small town near Jonesboro. Despite her location in northeast Arkansas, she wanted the opportunity to come to Fayetteville, she said.
“I grew up loving the Razorbacks, and I just grew up always wanting to be a Razorback,” Shirey said.
After graduation, Razorback women’s basketball assistant coach Tom Collen invited her to stay at the university as a graduate assistant. From there, she has shifted between assistant coach and director of operations, making the full- time shift to director of operations under former coach Jimmy Dykes.
As director of operations, Shirey has a say in almost every off-court decision for the Razorbacks. Her duties include arranging travel, recruiting, setting practice times when another team is in town and more.
“There’s not much that happens around here that doesn’t have Amber’s fingerprint on it,” Neighbors said.
C’eira Ricketts has extensive experience with Shirey. Ricketts played for the Razorbacks while Shirey was an assistant coach and is now helping Shirey in the player development department.
Shirey has many qualities that make her a good fit for the job, Ricketts said.
“She has so much knowledge of the game as a point guard, as a player,” Ricketts said, “On the business side of it, she’s great. I learned a lot from her as a player as well as my new position in player development.”
The Razorbacks’ season and Shirey’s 30th with the team ends at the SEC tournament Feb. 28-March 4 in Nashville, Tennessee, unless the Hogs win the tournament. Should that happen, the Razorbacks will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.