Bethune-Cookman women’s basketball head coach Vanessa Blair-Lewis announced the addition of associate head coach Niki Washington to the Wildcats sideline on Thursday, June 25. She is set to begin her duties immediately.
“I am excited about Coach Washington joining our staff,” said Blair-Lewis. “She is an accomplished coach who brings a wealth of experience and knowledge that our program will be able to utilize.”
With over 16 years of sideline experience under her belt, most recent, Washington served as the head coach for six seasons (2009-2015) at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida.
“As a person that does not believe in coincidence, I know that I was divinely placed on this staff and to grow and learn from coach Blair-Lewis, as well as bring a new spirit and innovative ideas that can advance the women’s program,” said Washington. “With the software that is already in place, there is a real advantage in utilizing analytics, and it is my desire to tap into these resources and bring the science to the table when it comes to player development and offensive efficiency.”
Quickly after taking the Lynn reign, Washington 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 SSC 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 her time patrolling the sidelines for the Fighting Knights, Washington posted a 90-101 (.471) career record and 37-59 (.384) mark in SSC play. 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.
One of Washington’s top individual triumphs was the development of Kira Harvey into one of the top players in the SSC. Guiding her all four years of her career, Harvey is the only player in program history to be a three-time All-America selection, while also being named SSC Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year. Additionally, Harvey is the first student-athlete in SSC history to win Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season.
While at Lynn, Washington helped three student-athletes accumulate All-America honors, six achieved All-SSC accolades, two were awarded all-south region awards, and one received a South Region Player of the Year honor and a SSC Tournament Most Outstanding Player honoree. She also was the only coach in program history to have defeated every school in the Sunshine State Conference at least once during their tenure.
Prior to arriving in Boca Raton, Washington served as the assistant coach for Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) foe Florida A&M for six seasons. During her time in Tallahassee, the Lady Rattlers produced five All-MEAC selections, while Washington helped oversee the development of a MEAC Rookie of the Year and a MEAC Player of the Year.
Born in Sanford, Florida, Washington was a prep phenom at Seminole High School, becoming a highly-sought after player. She was named the Gatorade Florida High School Player of the Year in 1993, and earned high school All-America notices from Street & Smith Magazine as well as from Converse.
“Coach Washington knows the game and will be a tremendous asset on the court,” Blair-Lewis added. “We are pleased to garner a local product that has strong ties to the state of Florida.”
Washington signed with the University of Houston in 1993, where she was part of a recruiting class that ranked fourth in the nation. However, injuries during her freshman year prompted a move back home, where she enrolled at Seminole Community College.
At SCC, Washington blossomed into a top performer on the court, earning a spot on the 1995 NJCAA Mid-Florida Conference All-Star team. After graduating from SCC, she moved on to Southern Illinois to play for coaching pioneer Cindy Scott, finishing second in the Missouri Valley Conference in her first season.
Following her time at SIU, Washington again returned home to Sanford where she served as an assistant coach at Seminole Community College from 1999-2002. During her time with the Raiders, they captured two Mid-Florida Conference Championships and advanced to regional play in 2001-02, while collecting numerous all-conference accolades, two Mid-Florida Conference Player of the Year selections, five National Junior College Athletic Association All-State/Region players and one Kodak/WBCA NJCAA All-American.
Washington’s playing experience did not end at SIU. In 1999-2000, she was a member of the NWBL Florida Fury, which led to an invitation to the Detroit Shock training camp in 2000. She did sign a professional contract in 2000 with Herlev-BMS in Copenhagen, Denmark. Washington had an outstanding season, earning the 2001 women’s club MVP award, while helping the team win the Danish Cup National title.
A 1999 graduate of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, she holds a B.S. degree in Speech Communications and Interpersonal Communications.
“I cannot say enough about how Coach Blair-Lewis and her staff, as well as the girls, have embraced me and made me feel like a part of the family since I arrived in Daytona Beach,” Washington added. “I am going to do my best to help the program stay on the cutting edge and bring that enthusiasm and fire to the job that I love and am so passionate about.”
Photo Courtesy B-CU AthleticsTagged with: Associate Head Coach Bethune-Cookman MEAC Niki Washington