There’s a new program in town. Located right on Central Avenue in Colonie, Bryant and Stratton’s Albany campus is adding women’s basketball for the 2019 season when they’ll compete at the Division I level in the USCAA. They’ve just hired their head coach: 24 year-old Hudson Valley Community College assistant coach, Jaclyn Welch.
Even though she’s the youngest head coach ever* Jaclyn feels prepared for this challenge. She’s had a coach’s mindset since her first head coaching experience for the Colonie AAU program when she was just 18. Now she’s the head coach for the new program and has the rare opportunity to build a program from scratch. I sat down with her to talk about her career to this point and what she envisions her program to look like.
Welch has one hell of a playing resume. Born and raised in the Capital District, the Colonie High School grad was a 4-year varsity letter-winner for the Raiders. After high school she attended Niagara County Community College out in Western NY where she became the first female in school history to be named All-American and get her number retired.
From there, she earned a scholarship to continue her playing career at Division II Barton College in North Carolina where she was a 2-year captain and graduated with degrees in sport management and health education in December 2016.
Since her playing days have ended, she’s gotten even more coaching experience under her belt. She was the head coach of a 5th grade Saratoga AAU team last summer, and got hired at HVCC in the fall. They are 17-3 so far, Jaclyn will finish the season with the Vikings before officially moving on to lead the Bobcats.
Oh yea, I care so much because Jaclyn is also my wonderful girlfriend. Obviously I know her very well and therefore I can say with 100% confidence that she is going to do an unbelievable job building this team and winning more than a new program probably should. She’s going to be a tough but fair coach, and a person 18 year old players can relate to. She has the experience and confidence to succeed in the coaching world.
One of the best things about starting a new program is getting to create the culture you want. There’s no righting the wrongs or filling shoes from some previous regime, it’s going to be new and fresh for everyone. She’s building her culture around 6 demands of all her players and coaches. To be a BOBCAT you must:
Believe in us.
Own your effort.
Accept what’s best.
Welch’s first step is getting the right girls in her program. Obviously, this starts on the recruiting trail. She knows she has an uphill battle selling this brand new program, but she has the energy and experience to do it. She wants talented, coachable player who show a true love for the game. She also wants her players with high basketball IQs because she likes to utilize a multitude of defensive schemes. So maybe our man John has a chance, Coach Rowland of the Albany Patroons said he fits that mold.
I had one final question for Jaclyn, and admittedly, it was a little bit selfish. Her and I have enjoyed a few Colonie karaoke nights ourselves, and after my karaoke performance last Thursday at the Troy Kitchen, I had to ask if I could sing the national anthem at one of her games next season. She made no promises when she said “Maybe if you start getting better crowd reactions when you sing in public.”
Anyway, a huge congratulations and best of luck to Jaclyn as she gets her program rolling. You better believe I’ll be at every game I possibly can. GO BOBCATS!