Director of Athletics, Sheila Wooten has announced the hiring of Vanessa Watson as head women’s basketball coach at Bloomfield College. A member of the Newark Athletic and New Jersey State Coaches Hall of Fames, Watson comes to Bloomfield after a storied 31-year career at the helm of her alma mater, Malcolm X Shabazz High School in Newark, N.J. where she retired in 2014 and then joined NCAA Division I, Delaware State University in 2015 as an assistant coach.
“It gives me great pride to welcome Vanessa Watson to the Bloomfield College Bears family as the new head coach of women’s basketball,” Wooten said. “With a record highlighted by 10 state championships, 6 Tournament of Champions titles and over 700 wins, Vanessa’s Hall of Fame coaching career made her one of the most successful and accomplished coaches in the history of women’s basketball in the state of New Jersey on the high school level. What was more compelling, for me, however, was her ability to connect with the young women on her teams, motivating them to be better than they ever thought possible, and helping them develop as players, students and people. Vanessa stood out among some outstanding candidates for the position, not just because of her championship record but because of her successful experience as a teacher of the game and commitment to community service and academics. I could not be more excited for her to lead the Bears women’s basketball program back to championship heights.”
Watson, posting an .869 (720-109) overall record while at Shabazz High School, is one of the most prestigious coaches in the history of the state. Over her final two seasons, Watson’s teams went 66-2, and Shabazz did not drop a single game against a New Jersey opponent. Her championship pedigree includes six New Jersey Tournaments of Championship titles, 10 state championships, 18 state sectional championships, 17 Essex County championships and 16 conference crowns. She also sent several players to Division I programs, most notably Matee Ajavon (Rutgers), who is a nine-year WNBA veteran currently playing for the Atlanta Dream.
“It is such an exciting time in Bloomfield College athletics with Sheila at the helm,” Watson said. “I look forward to working with her because I know she believes in doing things with integrity and the right way; I believe in the same things. I want to be a part of her continued vision of excellence and coming back to Essex County, Bloomfield feels like the right home for me. The cornerstone for the success I have experienced in the past has always revolved around the players. Knowing them as people and understanding their dreams and goals both on and off the court are very important to me. I truly believe the players who are here and those who have committed to Bloomfield for next season have the ability to propel us to great heights. They want to be that championship team that we talk about five years from now. I want to help make that happen for them and for Bloomfield College.”
Notable accolades for Watson includes a New Jersey State Coach of the Year honor (2003), three Tri-State Coach of the Year awards (2003, 2004, 2013), Star-Ledger Coach of the Year recognition (2004), Northeast Regional Coach of the Year honoree (2004) and she garnered District Coach of the Year honors in 2006.
Watson has also manned the sidelines for numerous All-Star games, headlined by being selected for the 2015 Jordan Brand Classic All-American East squad. Also, she served as a coach for the USA Basketball 17 under and 18 under Trials Court squads. Watson participated with Nike during its Skills Academy and as a coach for its WBCA All-American Team.
Educationally, Watson received her bachelor’s degree in Health & Physical Education from Virginia State in 1980 and she earned her master’s degree from the University of Phoenix in Educational Administration & Supervision in 2007. As a player, Watson was the starting point guard for Virginia State as a senior, who went on to win the 1980 Central intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Tournament Championship.
Photo Courtesy Bloomfield Athletics