Following the most successful season in Women’s Basketball history, Head Coach Jamie Seward has been nominated as a finalist for the 2013 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) NCAA Division III National Coach of the Year award.
This is the first time Seward has been nominated for a national award.
He was previously named this year’s SUNYAC Coach of the Year after the Women’s Basketball team was crowned SUNYAC champions. The Lady Hawks lost their first game in the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Championship Tournament to Babson College.
Looking back on his career, coaching basketball was not Seward’s first choice. In fact, he wanted to attend school to be a lawyer, but soon changed his mind.
“I was actually looking to play football in college and Sienna was the only school I looked at that I didn’t want to play football at,” Seward said. “They just really had a bad program, so I made my decision — for pretty much the first time in my life — based on academics over athletics and I wanted to be a lawyer.”
According to Seward, after a week or two as an undergraduate, he decided to start thinking about what else he would want to do as a career, which is how he came to coaching.
“Coaching was always something I had an eye on,” Seward said. “Even when I was younger, I thought about things that I would do if I was a coach, so I started coaching fifth grade CYO and moved up and started coaching some travel teams. My sister’s AAU team one year needed a coach and I was like, ‘I don’t know about coaching girls, I’m not sure about that,’ but I had a really outstanding experience coaching that team and one thing ultimately led to another and turned into a career a few years later.”
Seward arrived in New Paltz in September 2006, a month before practice was set to start, where he was pleased by the university’s newly constructed Athletic and Wellness Center and gymnasium.
“When I came to interview here it was really a pleasant surprise,” Seward said. “I hadn’t heard great things and walked in and they had a brand new fitness center, brand new gym. I met with admissions and saw what the academic standards were — it was very intriguing and I was really fortunate to have gotten the opportunity.”
As his experience grew, Seward tried to emulate the styles of coaches he idolized growing up and during his time as a coach, including Head Coach of Men’s Basketball at the University of Louisville, Rick Pitino and Head Coach of Women’s Basketball at Union College, Mary Ellen Burt.
“Rick Pitino was the guy who I really started to emulate my style after,” Seward said. “He was one of the guys that I always followed what they did and liked his way of playing fast-paced and pressing. I was very fortunate to have worked for my great mentor, Mary Ellen Burt, at Union College where I was an assistant for five years and I was able to take a lot of things from her. She was able to always put a positive spin on things and I realized how important that was as a head coach because I did not necessarily recognize that as an assistant.”
Seward maintains that the WBCA Coach of the Year award’s importance lies with the quality of the team’s players and the coach’s recognition by his or her peers, not anyone else.
“Coach of the year means you have good players, number one,” Seward said. “You could be the greatest coach and have the greatest defensive schemes and the best offenses and ultimately, if you don’t have good players, then none of that works very well. The WBCA Coach of the Year is nice because it’s voted on by your peers, but it’s also that much more meaningful when it comes from the people who actually do it.”
The WBCA Coach of the Year winner will be announced on Monday, April 8, in New Orleans during the third annual WBCA Awards Show.