Former Duke Blue Devil and tenured coach, West joins the Lions as the 12th coach in program history
SAINT LEO, Fla. – Saint Leo University Director of Athletics, Francis X. Reidy, has announced the appointment of Missy West at the next Saint Leo women's basketball coach. West previously served as the head women's basketball coach at Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y., and she comes to the Lions as the twelfth coach in program history.
"I know it is an often used line, but Melissa West was the simply the best fit for Saint Leo and how we want to be represented on the court, in the classroom and around the community," said Director of Athletics Francis X. Reidy. "Through this process she has exemplified our values of excellence, respect and integrity. Her passion for success, but in the context of developing the full potential of her student-athletes in all phases was very evident."
West has a proven track record with ten years of coaching experience in NCAA Division III as well as NAIA. Her resume also boasts success as a Division I women's basketball player at Duke University in addition to experience playing professionally in Germany.
"I am thrilled to work with the fantastic administration, great coaches within the athletic department, and all of the dedicated student-athletes," said West of the appointment. "Through the hard work of our current players, the incoming players and the devoted recruiting efforts by our staff, we look forward to building a tradition of high standards and excellence, on and off the court, that everyone at Saint Leo can be proud of."
Serving as the head coach for the Hartwick Hawks during the past six seasons in which she compiled a record three-straight 22-win seasons, two NCAA tournament appearances, an Eastern College Athletic Conference title, and two trips to the Empire 8 Conference Championship game. During the 2011-12 season, West led her squad to its first-ever trip to the Empire 8 Championship game, while also earning Empire 8 Conference Women's Basketball Coach of the Year honors and the East Regional Coach of the Year Award. A two-time Empire 8 Conference Coach of the Year honoree, she was one of only eight coaches in the country to be named a finalist for the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division III National Coach of the Year.
"As exciting as her starting a new chapter with Saint Leo is, she wanted to make sure her departure from Hartwick and its community was completed with the class and dignity," said Reidy. "We respect how this transition has gone to make sure she was able to meet with her players in person."
Prior to her time at Harwick, West served as the Head Women's Basketball Coach at SUNY Canton for three years, where she helped revive a dormant program and turned it into a league titleholder. In just three seasons with the Kangaroos, the squad boasted a 53-23 overall record, including an NAIA Sunrise Conference regular season title, two Region III quarterfinal berths, and two-straight trips to the conference championship game.
"I am extremely excited to become part of the Saint Leo Family," stated West. "I would like to thank President Dr. Arthur Kirk, Jr. and Athletic Director Francis Reidy, for affording me this great opportunity to lead the women's basketball team at Saint Leo University. It is truly an honor and a privilege to begin my journey in the Sunshine State Conference, which I believe to be one of the best conferences in the country."
Before entering the coaching sphere, West competed as a women's basketball student-athlete at Duke University, where she received her Bachelor's Degree in Sociology with minors in History and Biological Anthropology. On the court, she was a member of two Atlantic Coach Conference (ACC) tournament title teams as well as three regular season ACC title teams. Registering 75 assists and 65 steals in her 96-game career as a Blue Devil, West has experienced women's basketball on the big stage after appearing in the Elite 8 and Sweet 16 games, as well as the 1999 National Championship.
A native of Malone, N.Y., West was a three-sport standout at Malone Central High School, where she lettered four years in soccer, basketball and softball. She also holds an Associates Degree in Physical Therapy, and she enjoys competing in triathlons and Ironman events, hiking, fishing, and camping.
*Photo credited to Gerry Raymonda.