Karen Caires

Exercise Science-Associate Professor; Head Coach-Women's Basketball


  • Athletics

Contact Info:

Phone: 619-644-7461
Office: Bldg. 41, Room 140




Head coach Karen Caires enters her third year at the helm of the Grossmont College Women’s Basketball program. Although only in her third season leading the Griffins, she is no stranger to women's basketball.


Caires' 14 years of coaching experience has ranged from the West coast to the East coast and from the high school level to major Division I basketball. She began her coaching career at her alumni Cypress College as an Assistant from 1989-1992. In 1992, Caires took over the John F. Kennedy High School girls’ basketball program. In her two years leading the Fighting Irish they posted two 2nd round CIF appearances and sent two players to the Division I level.


In 1994 Caires accepted her first Division I position at the University of Vermont as Assistant Coach and by 1996 was promoted to Associate Head Coach. Her responsibilities at the University of Vermont included recruiting, defensive coordinator, player development, academic monitoring, strength and conditioning, fundraising, directing summer camps, and assisting in implementation of the kids’ club. In her three years at UVM, the program was rebuilt and went from an 11-17 record to an 18-11 second place finish in the America East Conference. Caires was instrumental in getting the University of Tennessee to play in their Howard Bank Classic Christmas Tournament. This helped Coach Pat Summit finally get to one of the four states she had yet to experience. Caires was also credited for signing the first California recruit to the University of Vermont, and the player came from the California Community College system.


In 1997, Caires returned to the West coast and entered the coaching ranks of the Pacific-10 Conference at Oregon State University. She spent only one year at OSU for she was offered the assistant coaching position at the University of Arizona. This afforded her the opportunity to not only remain in the Pac-10 Conference but also to be closer to family in Orange County, CA. In Caires' tenure at the University of Arizona from 1998-2002, Arizona advanced to two 2nd round NCAA appearances and had several players on the All Conference Pac-10 team throughout the years. In addition, Arizona had players advance to the WNBA and play overseas.


In 2002, Caires was offered a position to instruct and coach at Grossmont Community College. She accepted the offer for it afforded her the opportunity to come full circle and give back to the level that launched her career and be closer to her family. In 2003, Coach Caires was blessed with the birth of her daughter, Katherine “Katie” Ann Caires.


Coach Caires obtained her Associate of Science degree from Cypress College and her B.A. degree from Cal State University Northridge in Kinesiology. Caires played at Cypress College from 1986 to 1988 and for both years was named to the Orange Empire All Conference first team. Caires was also team captain for both years and was an integral part of the Cypress Chargers Conference Championship team that held a 10-0 undefeated season record. Caires also received The California Community College Scholastic achievement award, which is given to only 18 recipients throughout the state. Following her career at Cypress College, Caires received a scholarship to CSUN to play women's basketball. After playing for one year for the Matadors, she was sidelined due to a knee injury. Caires continued her education at Cal State University Long Beach where she received her M.A. degree in pedagogy and coaching.


In Caires' first season at Grossmont the Griffins posted only a 4- 24 season record; however, the groundwork for a new era had begun. Last year’s season improved to an 11- 13 overall record and a fourth place conference finish. Grossmont finished conference play in front of Mesa and Cuyamaca College.


This year’s squad returns only two sophomores but they are vital and dynamic. El Capitan standout Jessica Cable will lead the way along with LaQueena Shenault from Temescal Canyon. Both players are team captains for this year’s squad and will play key roles in communicating the program’s expectations. Along with these two sophomores Grossmont's standout addition is Kayla Henry of Mt. Miguel, last year’s high school state champions, and she is familiar with winning. She is a force to be reckoned with on both ends of the floor. In addition to Kayla, Coach Caires’ freshman class is full of East County players who love the game and strive to be better. Coach Caires is pleased with the Felice sisters from Grossmont High School and the Santana High School connection with Amie Leach and Heather Thomas. The class is rounded out with Tashan Howell of Monte Vista, Alanna Barnes from Hoover, Marla Mason from Chula Vista, and two surprises in Kelly Bull and Mayako Saito from Santa Fe Christian and Japan, respectively. This year’s team is fun to watch and committed to achieve success.


It is a wonderful community surrounding the Griffin house. With the help of the dedicated high school coaches and Caires’ staff of Coach Kirsten Cummings, Coach Lenny Schein and Dustin Puskar, Caires' program is poised and on track to become a fierce competitor in the Pacific Coast Conference. In addition to basketball, Caires enjoys spending time with her family, raising her new baby girl, boogie boarding, sailing, running, and all water sports.