Our new campus celebrity is Bentley Head Women’s Basketball Coach, Barbara Stevens. Coach Stevens just concluded another extremely impressive season making it to the Elite Eight of the national Division II NCAA tournament. No stranger to this level of success, Coach Stevens has more recorded victories than any other women’s basketball coach in Division II, and only five other coaches in the history of women’s college basketball, in any division, have more victories. Coach Stevens is an inspiration to many on campus so we asked this coaching legend more about how she has become so successful.
HCB: How do you think you got to where you are today?
BS: Coaching Women’s Basketball at the collegiate level has been my profession for the last 36 years. I began my coaching career at Clark University in Worcester where I was an assistant coach for 1 year then became the Head Women’s Basketball Coach for the next 6 years; I left Clark to become the Head Women’s Basketball Coach at UMass-Amherst for 3 years; and I have just completed my 26th season here at Bentley.
The only way a coach can be successful is to surround her/him with talented, motivated student-athletes, and hardworking assistant coaches. It also helps greatly if the institution is supportive of the coaches’ efforts to build a successful program. Fortunately for me, we have those three components for success here at Bentley.
HCB: What do you think made your team so successful this year?
BS:Our team was made up of 14 talented individuals who truly bought into the team concept. They accepted their roles and were tremendously supportive of one another. They set their goals very high and committed to working all year long to achieve their goals. We realized early in the season that we had the potential to be a Championship caliber team. Instead of being burdened by the high expectations we had for ourselves and that others placed on us, our players embraced the front runner status. We had a huge target on our backs this season and every team brought their best against us. Our players had great confidence in each other to face any challenge that came our way.
HCB: What do you do to inspire your players?
BS: When you say “inspire”, I don’t know that I do anything purposely to give them inspiration. What I try to do is instill them with confidence, prepare them for each opponent and develop their skills to be successful. This carries over into everything they will do for the rest of their lives. I feel it is my job as their coach to help them grow and mature – not only on the basketball court but off the court – into the women they are meant to be. Hopefully, through example, they see what it takes to be successful in athletics and in life. I want them to leave Bentley knowing they have the skills, the knowledge and the confidence to achieve whatever they put their minds to.
HCB:What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome being a woman in sports?
BS: From the time I was in college (1972-76) much has changed (for the better) in women’s athletics. Women worked (and continue to work) very hard to gain acceptance in the world of athletics, which is still male dominated. I began my coaching career in an era where women were just starting to gain some support and equal opportunity in sports, primarily due to the Title IX legislation. As more and more opportunities to participate in sports were given to women, we were able to pursue our interests in sports, hone our skills as athletes, and develop the competency to coach. What we have today is a far cry from the limited opportunities available to women 40 years ago. Women’s athletics has gained worldwide acceptance and women athletes are recognized for their skills and talents.
What I believe is still our biggest challenge is to continue to educate the Bentley University campus at large that our Women’s Basketball Team is VERY GOOD – and the students, staff and faculty should come to watch us play!!