CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Laura Litchfield is no stranger to Parkland women’s basketball. The first-year head coach and Champaign native knew this was the right role for her.

“I always considered Parkland to be home so it really does mean a lot to me that I get to come back and coach and get back here,” Litchfield said. “Playing here was one of my best college memories.”

Litchfield played for Central before going to Parkland from 2014-2015. She was an NJCAA Division II First Team All-American, helping the Cobras go 35-2 and finish as the national runner-up in her first season. Laura then transferred to continue her athletic and academic career at University of Illinois-Chicago. After college, she returned to where she began her collegiate career as an assistant coach.

“It’s really fun to be back here and it really means a lot to me so I think that’s one thing that really pushes me to give my best when I’m here coaching,” Litchfield said.

She’s accomplished a lot for the Cobras as an assistant the last two years. Parkland was 62-20, placing 3rd at Nationals. Litchfield has kept that winning mentality going as she moved to head coach. Players say the No. 13-ranked Cobras didn’t skip a beat.

“It was a real smooth transition to have her as a head coach and just have the same culture coming in and there wasn’t any new like transitions that happened,” sophomore Shaelynn Bell said. “She knew the culture, she knew already the expectations and we already kind of had that standard of like becoming a great program and it was just an easy transition to have her a part of it.”

“She definitely has a lot of potential,” guard Kenzey Decker said. “Her first year I’m blown away by how much of a grip she has on this team and she really had it under control and I’m really excited to see where her coaching is taking her. I can really tell she has a lot of passion in this.”

“It’s like living the dream, like I said, being from Champaign, coaching at the school I played for, it means a lot,” Litchfield said.