The end of the 2023-2024 women’s basketball season at Palomar College marked a milestone for coach Leigh Marshall – her team made it to the Sweet 16 in the state championship and she notched her 275th win.

She attributes her success to her outstanding staff and having players through the years who are willing to put in the effort it takes to win.

“We talk a lot about work ethic and how hard you have to work every day,” she said. “We always say ‘How you do anything is how you do everything.’”

Marshall has had a lifelong love of basketball. As a young child, she played basketball with the boys in her Orange County neighborhood, then played on her middle school basketball team.
“I just fell in love with it – the competitive nature and the speed of it,” she said.

She played basketball at Orange Coast College, where her team won the state championship. After she graduated, the coach asked her to serve as an assistant coach. She also worked as a high school coach for two years before she was hired at Palomar College in 2010.

Marshall said the best part of coaching is developing relationships with her players.

“The number one thing is to build strong women and face adversity and lift each other up,” she said. “It’s the bond that you have and the shared goals and the willingness to sacrifice for each other.”

The Palomar College women’s basketball team has had success on the court, reaching the Elite Eight in the state tournament seven times and the Final Four in 2017 and 2023. More than 50 women who played on the team received athletic scholarships from a university, and some others are playing professionally overseas.

Marshall also emphasizes the importance of her athletes maintaining their grades. The team has a 3.4 grade point average and must attend a regular study hall.

“Academics comes first,” Marshall said. “You have to do the job in the classroom.”

Marshall said basketball is more than just a game, offering important life lessons to players.

“It teaches you so much about yourself to be around people who are different than you to come through for a common goal,” she said. “You learn how hard you have to work for something you truly want. Those life lessons are preparing you for work, for family, or whatever is your next adventure.”