When Paul Laurence Dunbar hired Sarah Van Horn as a math teacher late this spring, officials didn't know they were getting a basketball coach, too.
But a week after Van Horn signed on to teach algebra, she interviewed for the girls' coaching position and wound up getting that job, as well.
"It's a perfect opportunity. I'm really excited," said Van Horn, who moved here from West Virginia last month.
Van Horn will be Dunbar's third coach in three years. Mike Sowers left after the 2010 season for Shelby County. His successor, Amy Tilley, resigned after one year to join the women's staff at the University of Kentucky.
Never miss a local story.
"I realize these girls have gone through a lot, and they're looking for someone to come in and stay for a while," Van Horn said. "You can never make promises about where you're you're going to stay, but my plan is to be here, build a program and maybe make a difference in their lives."
Van Horn played high school basketball in Ohio, and college hoops at West Virginia Wesleyan. She coached at Lewis County High School in West Virginia this past season before moving to Lexington, where her fiancé is enrolling at UK.
Van Horn, 24, said her age "gives me an advantage relating to the girls on a personal level.
"I know what it's like to be a high school student and athlete. I was there not that long ago. I also played college basketball, so the girls trying to go to the next level, I know what it takes."
Van Horn is new to Kentucky, but she said she's aware of the state's passion for basketball: "I know high school basketball is huge here, and how important it is to these girls."
Van Horn hasn't had much of a chance to get to know her players. She did take a few of them to a camp at Asbury just before the high school dead period began in June, during which athletes can't receive coaching or training.
"I liked what I saw. We have a lot of talent and a deep roster. I think we'll be a force to be reckoned with."
Van Horn is one of three new girls' hoops coaches in Lexington. In the last six weeks, Bryan Station hired Donna Murphy, and Henry Clay named Eric Sanford to lead its girls' programs.