WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Gallaudet University Athletics Department is proud to announce Brendan Stern has been selected as the new women's basketball head coach as announced by Athletic Director Michael Weinstock on Tuesday. Stern's new responsibilities are effective immediately as the 2011-12 season tips off for the Bison on November 18 at the Lebanon Valley College tournament.
"We are excited to welcome Brendan to the Athletics Department being an alum of the University and serving as an assistant coach for the men's program for the past three seasons. I am confident he will hit the ground running and will continue the great success our women's basketball team experienced last season," said Weinstock.
For the past three seasons Stern has served as an assistant coach with the Gallaudet men's basketball program under the tutelage of head coach Jeb Barber. Stern played four years for the Bison men's basketball program where he started three seasons and was a three-time captain. He graduated from GU in 2006 and since has earned master degrees from American University (American Politics in 2008) and Catholic University of America (American Politics 2009). He is currently working on his Ph.D. in American Politics at CUA.
"I would not be here if not for Coach Barber. I am thankful he gave me the opportunity to work under him. Being an assistant coach in his program has influenced my coaching philosophy and I will continue to ask him for advice on X's and O's," said Stern. "Also, it is a bittersweet decision to leave his program because he has a special bunch of players. While it was tough to leave them all, it is reassuring that I will be able to watch and root for them this coming season."
Stern has been teaching American Politics at Gallaudet University for the past four years. He is co-teaching a GSR course on American Exceptionalism this semester and another titled "The Art of Democracy: Participation, Representation and Religion in American Politics."
Stern inherits a women's basketball team that went 24-4 last season under the guidance of former head coach Kevin Cook and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1999. The Bison tied the school record for wins in a season and were the regular-season co-champions of the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) in their first year in the conference. GU started the 2010-11 season with a perfect 20-0 mark, the best start for the program that dates back to 1896. The Bison were nationally ranked for over a month reaching as high as No. 18 in the coaches' poll. Cook coached NEAC Player of the Year and eventual Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), D3hoops.com, and Women's DIII News All-American Easter Faafiti. The senior forward/center went on to capture more than 20 different awards from all-conference first team honors to all-region first team honors, and ECAC Division III South Player of the Year. The Bison will also be without senior center Nukeitra Hayes, a second team all-conference performer from last season.
"It is impossible to replace Coach Cook. He accomplished great things here at Gallaudet in four seasons. I was sad to see him leave and wish him the best of luck at Winthrop University," said Stern. "To coach basketball full-time at Gallaudet is a dream come true. To have this great opportunity to shape the bright minds of our deaf and hard-of-hearing student-athletes through basketball is exceptional."
Stern has several team goals he wants his squad to focus on in the 2011-12 season including a team grade point average of 3.0, to play tenacious defense and take care of the ball.
"Keuka College, the defending NEAC champions, was first in the conference in field goal and 3-point field goal percentage defense. This is not by accident. Defense wins championships," said Stern. "We were seventh in turnover margin in the NEAC last year and this is unacceptable not only because we waste opportunities to score but also because one of the toughest things to guard is turnovers that lead to fast break opportunities for the opponent."
One of the key goals for Stern is his player's success in the classroom first and foremost.
"Our players are students first and athletes second. It is not lip service when I say that it will be my No. 1 goal to not only graduate all of my players but also see them become curious, productive, happy citizens. To this end, I expect our players to succeed in the classroom and their extracurricular activities this year and gain a finer appreciation of the fascinating world out there," said Stern. "I also want to see our players play hard, grow together every day, and to have fun along the way."
Stern's background as a basketball player is vast and his diverse experience should help him relate to what current Bison student-athletes or potential recruits have experienced. The California native started playing basketball at a hearing Catholic Youth League without an interpreter and later attended California School for the Deaf - Fremont before going to University High School, a large public high school in California, where he had an interpreter but was the only deaf player on his team. Stern also has had playing experience after Gallaudet as he brought home the gold medal for Team USA in the Deaflympics and has played at the deaf club level. He envisions his experience as a player and a coach will help him appreciate coaching women's basketball.
"As rewarding as coaching the men at Gallaudet has been, it is sometimes frustrating to see players attempt to physically overpower each other and play one-on-one basketball. On the other hand, because the women's game is mostly played below the rim, fundamentals, execution, and teamwork are more crucial. I think this makes coaching women more challenging and rewarding and is one of the many reasons why I am very enthusiastic about coaching women's basketball at Gallaudet," said Stern.
Stern resides in the Brookland neighborhood in Washington, D.C.
If you are interested in playing or working with the women's basketball program please contact Coach Stern at email@example.com.