By Riley Zayas
June 30, 2023
On the coaching front….things have really picked up! Wanted to come on here and post the second edition of my series highlighting the multi-sport athletes in D3 women’s hoops but also catch you up on some of the recent coaching chances that have taken place within the last 48-72 hours.
No coaching announcement is bigger than the news released the morning that Babson head coach—legendary Babson head coach—Judy Blinstrub has retired after leading the Beavers for 39 seasons. That is an incredible career. When you think about how far D-III has come since she took over the program in 1984, it is incredible. She leaves the sidelines 11th in D-III women’s basketball in all-time wins, with a 719-330 record at Babson. She is the only coach in D-III history with 700+ wins in basketball and 200+ wins in soccer.
Not to mention she led the Beavers to 23 postseason appearances, including 12 NCAA Tournament runs. Babson has long been a power in the NEWMAC and Blinstrub brought so much experience and poise to her team as she led them through what was often a stacked regular season slate. Those will be big shoes to fill for whoever follows her as head coach of that program!
“Babson has been a part of my family and my home for so long,” said Blinstrub in a press release. “I have so many wonderful memories to reflect on. The student-athletes that I have had the opportunity to coach and mentor will forever have a special place in my heart. I will always treasure all the relationships I have formed in the Babson community and beyond throughout my career.”
She guided Babson to a MAIAW championship back in 1986 and the accomplishments for Babson women’s basketball continue to build from there. In the 14 full seasons from 2008-09 to 2022-23, Babson won 20 games or more in 11 of those.
“Coach, mentor, leader are only a few of the adjectives that can describe Coach Blinstrub,” said Megan Bauman, one of the stars of this past year’s Babson squad. “Throughout her illustrious career she has left a mark on the game of basketball and countless student-athletes. Her coaching ability speaks for itself with over 700 career wins and numerous Coach of the Year honors. However, the hours behind the scenes – recruiting, scouting or even sitting down with players to simply ask how they are doing is the reason she and the program were so successful.”
Blinstrub certainly leaves behind a lasting legacy. Congratulations to her on everything she accomplished in her 39 seasons there!
In other coaching news…
- Misericordia HC Jason Rhine has resigned after seven years of leading the program. No official announcement was made by the university, but I have confirmed the move. D3.ticker first reported the coaching change.
- Cassandra Taylor was hired as the new head coach at Valley Forge, a UEC institution that went 6-17 in 2022-23. Taylor most recently served as the associate head coach at John Jay University, where she coached for five years. This will be her first head coaching gig. UVF AD Gretchen LeVan coached the team as the interim head coach this past season, so this was technically a job that was open dating back to last season.
- Mitchell also hired its next women’s basketball head coach earlier in the week, as Ashley Wilson comes from D-I Central Connecticut State, where she spent the last two years as an assistant. A standout at Wayne State, where she graduated in 2016, Wilson played professionally overseas and spent the 2020-21 season as head coach at Putnam Science Academy (high school). Like Taylor at Valley Forge, this will be just the second collegiate program Wilson has coached for during her career.
- Greensboro completed its coaching search rather quickly, and has hired Laquanda Dawkins Prince as head coach. This will be Prince’s first D-III coaching position, but she has extensive D-I and D-II experience. The last six years, however, she has coached at the high school level, leading the nationally-acclaimed program at Yulee High School in Jacksonville, Florida. She has coached six All-Americans during her coaching career and 19 All-Conference selections.
Multi-Sport D3 WBB student-athletes
Raegan Sorensen | UW-Stout | Track, Basketball
Sorensen finished her sophomore year with numerous honors in both basketball and track, contributing significantly to Stout’s success across both sports. On the court, where Stout finished as the Co-Regular Season Champs in the WIAC, Sorensen did a little bit of everything on both ends of the floor. She played in all 26 games, starting 13, and led the Blue Devils with 15.8 points per game. But that’s not all! She averaged a team-best 7.3 rebounds per contest, tallied 55 steals (another team-high) and shot 45% from 3-point range on 60 3-point attempts. Sorensen deservedly earned First Team All-WIAC honors as well as an All-Region selection from D3hoops.com.
On the track, she finished as an All-America selection in the Javelin, finishing fourth overall at the NCAA Championships in Rochester. Her throw of 44.12 meters at nationals broke the Stout record, a record she had claimed with her throw a week earlier at the UWL Final Qualifier. Amazingly, in the span of a week, Sorensen broke her own school record by 13 feet! That came after narrowly earning a spot in the field at nationals, as she threw over five meters further at the UWL Final Qualifier than she had at the WIAC Championships two weeks prior. Sorensen is also a talented pole vaulter and holds a PB of 3.71 meters, set back in April.
I’ll go out on a limb and say that Sorensen may have had the best year of any of the multi-sport D3 women’s basketball players in 2022-23. “All-American” is a prestigious honor, and then to succeed in the way she did on the court in quite possibly the strongest league in the nation…it deserves some serious recognition.
Claire Greene | Rhode Island College | Lacrosse, Basketball
Greene was spectacular for Rhode Island College in lacrosse this past season, leading the team in points (32), goals (31), and shots (75). The freshman from Storrs, CT was the only player with double digits in goals as the next-highest scorer had eight. She started in 11 games, playing her first match on March 20, just days after basketball season concluded with RIC’s Final Four run.
In basketball, she played in 28 games with two starts, averaging 14.1 minutes per game. Greene had 3.1 points and 2.4 rebounds per game, and made the most of her opportunities on a team that caught fire late in the season, and finished with a 28-4 record. Greene is likely to see more action this coming season on the court, considering RIC graduated a handful of seniors.
Ella Mackiewicz | UW-Platteville | Track & Field, Basketball
Another WIAC star-in-the-making, Mackiewicz was only a freshman this past year, yet accomplished a great deal for Platteville in both basketball and track & field.
The Kansas native started in all 26 games for UWP, leading the Pioneers in virtually every stat category. She tallied 11.5 points per game, including 23 in a dramatic 61-52 upset of first-place UW-Whitewater on Feb. 15. Her 5.2 rebounds also ranked No. 1 on the team and she was the only player to average more than one steal per game (1.7). That led to her selection as both the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Newcomer of the Year and WIAC Newcomer of the Year.
As a high jumper in track & field, Mackiewicz posted six Top-5 finishes, and placed second at the WIAC Championships with a mark of 1.56 meter. She set a new PB with her fourth-place finish at the Eagle Open on May 12, recording a jump of 1.59 meters. The future is certainly bright for Mackiewicz, as she enters her sophomore year aiming to build on a very noteworthy freshman campaign. Not many student-athletes can easily adjust to the level of competition at the college in one sport, much less two, along with adjusting to the academics and living multiple states away from home. But Mackiewicz definitely seemed to do that this past year.
That’s a wrap for this post! I’ll be back on Monday with another edition of “Schedule analysis”, looking at the 2023-24 slates for Hope, Trine, Carnegie Mellon, and Trinity (CT). Can’t wait! Have a great weekend.