Hannah Varel Named New Head Coach of Transylvania Women’s Basketball

Image Courtesy of Transylvania University

On April 16th, Hannah Varel was announced as the newest coach of Transylvania Pioneers Women’s basketball, becoming the eighth head coach in the program’s history. This was following the announcement the previous week that Juli Fulks, the five-time Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year and 2023 National Champion, would resign after ten years as the coach of Transylvania Women’s Basketball, accepting the position of head coach of Marshall University Women’s Basketball. Varel will become head coach after four years of being on the Pioneer Women’s Basketball staff, including as the Associate Head Coach for the 2023-2024 season.

Juli Fulks served as head coach of the Pioneers for ten years, first being hired as coach in 2014 after a stint as the head coach for Lewis & Clark College Women’s Basketball. Fulks’ decade-long run as the Pioneer’s head coach was undoubtedly the most successful in the program’s history. Sporting an overall record of 242-39, Fulks’ tenure as coach saw the Pioneers win six HCAC regular season titles as well as six consecutive HCAC tournament titles, corresponding to seven NCAA Tournament Appearances. During the final three seasons of Fulks’ tenure, the Pioneers boasted a 91-2 record, highlighted by a 64-game win streak from 2022 to 2024 and the Pioneers being the undefeated National Champions of the 2022-2023 season, the first national title school history. Fulks was personally honored as the HCAC Coach of the Year five times throughout her tenure and was named the 2024 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association DIII Coach of the Year. Fulks will take the helm of Marshall Women’s Basketball after a Sun Belt Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance by the Thundering Herd led to previous coach Kim Caldwell being hired by the University of Tennessee. 

Of all possible successors to Fulks, Hannah Varel is the best positioned to continue the success that Transylvania Women’s Basketball has experienced over the last several years. Prior to joining the Pioneer staff in 2020, Varel served for two years as an assistant coach for HCAC rival Hanover. Varel has been a key contributor to the Pioneer’s success since arriving at Transylvania, with the Pioneers boasting a 105-8 record during her four years on staff. In 2023, Varel was named a WBCA Thirty under 30 Honoree, being recognized as one of 30 rising stars across all levels of women’s basketball aged 30 and under. In 2024, after serving as Assistant Head Coach for the Pioneer’s third consecutive undefeated regular season and second straight final-four appearance, Varel was named the WBCA DIII Assistant Coach of the Year. In her introductory press conference, Varel expressed confidence in her ability and the ability of next year’s team to continue the recent success of Transy Women’s Basketball by preserving the defense-oriented playstyle that has made the Pioneers so successful in recent years, stating, “I feel very lucky that I’m coming into a program where we know that what we do works. Coach Fulks and I were very aligned with the methods and the systems that we ran. We were the best defensive team in the country out of any division, and I fell in love with that process.”