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Kate Lynch named coach of the year
April 8, 2013
With two consecutive Region XXI titles, it’s clear that the CCRI women’s basketball team has a good coach. Now, an award proves she is one of the best in the nation.
Lady Knights Head Coach Kate Lynch has won the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association 2013 Russell Athletic Coach of the Year Award for the community college level. She was honored at a ceremony on April 8 during the NCAA Women’s Final Four in New Orleans.
This award is given annually to a coach in each of the three NCAA divisions, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and the junior college and high school levels. It weighs team improvement, success in the current season, fulfillment of team potential and the attitude of the coach.
Lynch said she knew she had been nominated, but given the caliber of her competition, she did not expect to be chosen.
“I knew I was up for it but with the people that were up for it with me, I didn’t think I would get a single vote,” she said. “Just to be in that pool of people was an honor in itself.”
Lynch said any success she has had as a coach at CCRI is due to the hard work and talent of her players and supporting staff.
“I really think of this as a team award,” she said. “This is a testament to them, not to me.”
Her players, meanwhile, credit Lynch with turning the CCRI women’s basketball program around and helping them grow as players.
“She knows what we can do on the court and what we’re capable of,” said co-captain Jessica Randall. “She prepares us really well for games and she definitely drives us to our full potential.”
Co-captain Jahira Smith, who had a record-breaking season this year, said, “I think anyone she comes into contact with can tell automatically how she feels about us. You can just tell that in her heart it means a lot to her.”
Lynch credited players like Smith and Randall with getting the basketball program where it is today. With players like these in the lead, the team competed in the NJCAA Division II Championship last month for the second time in two years.
Although they were 1-2 in the tournament, Lynch said the CCRI players were able to make their mark on a national stage.
“The way they played, particularly in our first game, they turned some heads,” she said.
“Some things didn’t go in our favor but our goal was to get there and we made it,” Smith said.
The team is in a strong position for next year’s season, Lynch said, with great players like Alexia Barros, Ahnyyah Jackson and Alison Littles returning.
This is Lynch’s third year at CCRI and her first position as a head coach. Before this she was an assistant coach at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Fairfield University, a Division I school.
She played in college at Southern Connecticut State and helped lead the team to victory in the 2007 NCAA Division II Championship. She was named the most valuable player for that game in addition to being her school’s all-time leader in points (1,779), field goals (650) and free throw percentage (.803).
An East Providence native, Lynch took the job at CCRI in order to be close to home again and also for the opportunity to be a head coach. “CCRI is a great place to start [as head coach],” she said.
Lynch thanked her two assistant coaches, George Hardison and Brittany Brown. Hardison is a high school teacher in Stonington, Conn., who commutes to every CCRI practice and game, while Brown works in the CCRI sports information department and often puts in 12-hour days on campus.
“I wouldn’t have gotten the award if not for my awesome staff,” Lynch said. “I definitely wouldn’t be as successful without them.”
Lynch said she thinks the women’s basketball program at CCRI will continue to do well, as today’s successful players attract tomorrow’s stars. Her focus will remain on helping her team members grow.
“We try to make our players, trusting, loyal and honest,” she said, “because things that happen on the court can translate to off the court.”