Bethune-Cookman Women’s Basketball Staff Update

Bethune-Cookman University Head Women’s Basketball Coach Vanessa Blair-Lewis announced the promotion of two veteran coaches on her staff to associate head coach on the eve of the 2019-20 basketball season.

Chandler McCabe, assistant women’s basketball coach, now in her sixth season on the staff and another veteran assistant, Niki Washington, in year two of her second stint on the staff at BCU, have both been promoted to associate head coach.

“I am truly blessed to have these dynamic women on my staff,” Blair-Lewis said. “Each of them has been very instrumental in this programs historic success over these past years. Their determination and work ethic sets them apart and  sets this program on a continued path of sustainable success.”

McCabe’s tenure has seen her gain both national exposure and a unique opportunity for her first Division I head coaching experience that generated momentum into a 2018-19 culminating with the Lady Wildcats’ Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament championship and first-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament.

In 2017-18 McCabe handled head coaching duties with Blair-Lewis on maternity leave. The Lady Wildcats won three of those four games including an overtime win at Morgan State. McCabe  also led the Lady Wildcats to the semi-finals of the 2018 MEAC tournament with a quarterfinal victory over Maryland-Eastern Shore.

That same year McCabe was recognized by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association as one of its Thirty Under 30 honorees presented by Marriott Rewards®, a program created to recognize 30 up-and-coming women’s basketball coaches age 30 and under at all levels of the game. Each honoree has exemplified their involvement in community service, mentorship, professional manner, and professional association involvement.

McCabe, who coaches the Lady Wildcats’ post players, came to Bethune-Cookman after two seasons as a graduate assistant at Henderson State. While at Arkadelphia, Ark.-based Henderson State, McCabe earned her Master’s Degree in Sports Administration with a perfect 4.0 grade point average in May 2014.

She played her college ball at Providence, where she was a member of the 2010 NIT Elite Eight squad.

“From the moment I interviewed her I knew that she was going to make an impact in this program. She has been successful at every task she has been asked to perform.  In her most recent duties as the recruiting coordinator she has been able to recruit high level players that have allowed this program to compete every year for a MEAC title,” Blair-Lewis said. “She has been recognized on a national level for her body of work and continues to be one of the most sought after young coaches in the country.  She has proven that she can move over 12 inches to the head coaches seat and be successful, so I am honored and confident to announce her as Associate Head coach.”

Washington has over 17 years of sideline experience, including six years (2009-2015) at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, where she cemented herself as one of the more successful coaches in program history by claiming several program firsts: winning the first Sunshine State Conference Tournament game and first Sunshine State College Tournament title, claiming the first SSC regular season title, earning the first NCAA Tournament bid and earning the first NCAA Tournament at-large bid.

During the 2013-14 season, Washington became the program’s all-time leader in overall and league victories. Washington’s influence is spread throughout the record books at Lynn. Under her guidance, three players reached 1,000 points in their careers while two set records for three-point shooting in a season and career.

Prior to arriving in Boca Raton, Washington served as the assistant coach for Florida A&M for six seasons in addition to stints at Seminole State and Illinois State.

A prep phenom at Sanford Seminole (Fla.) High School, Washington was named the Gatorade Florida High School Player of the Year in 1993 and earned high school All-America notices from Street and Smith Magazine as well as from Converse. She signed with the University of Houston in 1993, where she was part of a recruiting class that ranked fourth in the nation. However, injuries her freshman year at Houston prompted a move back home, where she enrolled at Seminole Community College.

She was named to the 1995 NJCAA Mid-Florida Conference All-Star team before continuing her playing days at Southern Illinois. Washington played professionally overseas in Denmark before embarking on her coaching career.

Recently, she was enshrined in Seminole High School’s inaugural Hall of Fame Class that also included the likes of Major League Baseball  legend Tim Raines, former NFL quarterback Jeff Blake, golfer Matt Kuchar and 2006 World Series MVP David Eckstein – her high school classmate.

“I always admired Niki’s professionalism when I had to coach against her at Lynn. She embodied a strong knowledge for the game and an intense passion for preparation. I was thrilled when I was able to bring her on staff,” Blair-Lewis said. “Her attention to detail is like no other. She brings such ingenuity to how we prepare and defend against our opponents. Her work ethic is unmatched. She has a standard of excellence that she continuously impresses upon our ladies to operate in and expects nothing less. It is a wonderful opportunity for this program to name Niki as Associate Head Coach and be able to continue to glean from a seasoned, veteran and former head coach.

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