Former Hardin-Simmons basketball player and assistant coach Melanie Chonko is in her fourth season as the head coach of the HSU women's basketball program.
The Cowgirls have qualified for the American Southwest Conference each of the last two seasons and bring back a veteran team in 2016-17.
HSU went HSU had five players earn ASC awards, including Kourtney Holyfield and Kayla Brown as first-team All-ASC West performers.
In 2015 HSU qualified for the ASC Tournament as the No. 5 seed. Taylor Klement and Sara Vargas were both named third-team All-ASC. The Cowgirls were also named to the WBCA Honor Roll with a team GPA of 3.526. It was the 13th best team GPA in the nation.
She coached a pair of athletes Taylor Klement and Joanna Daniel to all-ASC honors and Kourtney Holyfield was named to the all-ASC freshman team in her first season.
Chonko has been an instrumental part of HSU's success not only as a player from 1998-2001 but also as an excellent recruiter as an assistant for nine years before becoming the head coach in July of 2013. She helped lead the Cowgirls to the 2006 NCAA Final Four.
Chonko was the epitome of a hard worker as a player. She played on the junior varsity as a freshman and worked her way to the varsity and appeared in three games that season. She played in 16 games as a sophomore and played in 26 as the backup point guard as a junior.
As a senior, she had one of the better all-around seasons for an HSU point guard. She started all 28 games and set an HSU single-season record that still stands with 109 steals. She also had 122 rebounds, 95 assists and averaged 5.6 points per game as the team won the American Southwest Conference title and went to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. She was also named the ASC defensive player of the year that season.
Chonko was part of four conference titles at HSU and played in seven career NCAA Tournament games. She was also an academic all-ASC selection three times and was a CoSIDA academic all-American as a senior.
She graduated from HSU in 2001 with a 4.0 GPA as a computer science major. She was awarded the Olsen Medal as the top graduating female student that year. She also earned a master's degree from HSU in Sports and Recreation Management.
Chonko, who has been an assistant coach for the Cowgirls for nine seasons, replaces Shanna Briggs. Chonko is the 15th head coach in the program's history that dates back to 1909.
The former Melanie Orsak is a native of Schulenburg and is married to Paul Chonko. They have two children Marcus and Mya.