Elena Lovato sends out the same tweet to her 9,403 Twitter followers every morning.
“Blessed to see another day!” Lovato writes. “Good morning to my beautiful Angel in heaven! I love you!”
Lovato, the Texas women’s basketball assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, said she used to start every morning by calling her mother, Frances Lovato, after a prayer and meditation session. The daily phone call morphed into a daily tweet after Frances passed away from a blood clot in her heart at the age of 62 on Oct. 5, 2019.
“I used to tweet out ‘Blessed to see another day’ every morning because I am very faithful,” Lovato said. “It’s kind of part of the daily routine. It’s hard when things change, so it’s just kind of something I do to give me strength and to keep moving on and shining her light on the world.”
Lovato has grown accustomed to change in her coaching career, spending time at eight different schools over a 12-year period, but no unpredictable occupation change could have prepared her for the loss of her mother. Lovato said Frances stood right by her side through every stop in her journey.
“She’s always been a part of every decision that I’ve made,” Lovato said. “If you go back and look at my social media platforms, I think you would see her and my dad sitting in the bleachers at almost every gym that I’ve ever coached in. I’d always say something like, ‘my backbone’ or ‘my spine,’ just because they are so supportive of everything I’ve done.”
Leandro Lovato, Elena’s older brother, said their mother was the heart and soul of the family.
“Growing up, she was always there for everything we ever wanted or needed, whether it was in sports or school,” Leandro said. “She always nurtured our dreams, never forced us, but always helped us follow them.”
Part of what makes Elena such a good fit in head coach Vic Schaefer’s staff is that they both share the same values that Frances taught Elena.
Since her mother’s passing, Elena has followed Schaefer and his entire staff from Mississippi State to Austin, Texas. Elena and Schaefer have coached together for all but two seasons, when Elena was the coach at Arkansas-Fort Smith, since 2014.
Schaefer said continuing to show up to work every day despite coping with the hardest loss is a testament to Elena’s character.
“I’ve been there. I have buried both my mother and my father. When you are close with your family like I was … it’s very difficult,” Schaefer said. “I know Elena. I know where she feels like her mom is every day with her. I have a lot of respect for her and know that that is the thing that makes her so special.”
Elena said she is thankful for Schaefer, who allowed her to take nearly a month off from work at Mississippi State when Frances was admitted to the hospital, despite it being the middle of the July recruiting period.
“Coach Schaefer was the first person I called. He said, ‘Drop everything and go. Go be with your mom.’” Elena said. “He allowed me to be there the last 12 days of her life. I was with her until her last breath. She passed away in my arms.”