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Photo by Alex McKenzie

Women’s basketball introduces new Head Coach

It is a new era for UMBC athletics. After an abrupt departure from their former head coach, UMBC women’s basketball quickly fell from their historic 6-0 start at the beginning of the season, to a dismal 4-20 end to their campaign. They turned to assistant coach Carly Dewey after a loss to Maryland. Questions surrounded the team for much of the season, but now the team is ready to press the restart button.

New opportunities are on the horizon for the Retrievers, as on Monday afternoon they introduced their new head coach. On Friday, it was announced that the person occupying the role of head coach would be Johnetta Hayes.

Hayes had an impressive tenure at Texas Southern University. Occupying the same role at Texas Southern, Hayes built the Tigers into perennial contenders in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. In six seasons she accumulated a 115-73 record. In her first season, she took a five-win team from the year before and led them to a 20 win season. Overall, she took Texas Southern to four postseason appearances including two WNIT appearances, one WBI appearance and an appearance in the 2017 NCAA tournament.

“Today is a great day for Retriever Nation,” said David Castellanos of UMBC Athletic Communications. He then introduced Athletic Director Tim Hall. Hall then went on to rave about Hayes. “This is another important step in UMBC history,” began Hall.

Hall went on to thank everyone involved in the search for a new head coach. “There were a lot of factors that went into our search,” said Hall. “It was important for us to find someone who knew how to build strong and enduring relationships.” Hall also explained that they were looking for someone with a record of success, preferably a sitting division one head coach. He raved about Hayes’ skills and integrity before formally introducing Hayes as the next head coach.

Hayes received a UMBC hat and posed with a UMBC jersey before making her comments. “I am extremely excited to be here,” Hayes began. She then thanked the administration and athletic department officials. She talked about one of her main focuses on academics, raving about how impressed she was with the team’s commitment in that regard. One of the main themes of her talk was about hitting the “reset button.”

“We want to create a culture,” said Hayes. “A culture where we can laugh, go on the court, and then go eat. I believe that breaking bread is important.” Hayes continued to talk about how she wanted to create an atmosphere where everyone felt comfortable, and where people were responsible and accountable. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. I’m ready to get started,” Hayes finished.

None of the assistant coaches from last season will be returning to the women’s basketball team, so this truly will be a blank slate for the team. Hayes is more than qualified for the position and if her track record at Texas Southern is any indication, the Retrievers certainly have a bright future ahead of them. With no graduating seniors, the team will have many players back next season, giving Hayes a well-seasoned group to work with as she embarks on her first campaign with UMBC.