Saint Rose athletic director Lori Anctil said she participated in 20 Zoom meetings while conducting a search for the women’s basketball’s new head coach.
“Make that 21, including this one,” she said with a laugh on Tuesday afternoon.
With COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on public gatherings, at least the 21st made the transition from exploratory to introductory, as Whitney Edwards joined this one with Capital Region media after having been hired to lead the Golden Knights’ women’s team.
The 2007 America East defensive player of the year at New Hampshire, Edwards promised to bring some of that tenacity to Saint Rose, her first job as a head coach after stops as an assistant at SUNY Plattsburgh, Stonehill, New Hampshire and Northeastern.
She replaces Karen Haag, who was the Saint Rose head coach for 19 seasons, most recently a 7-19 campaign that was the programs’ seventh losing season in the last eight.
“I’m ecstatic about this opportunity,” Edwards said. “Similar to what Lori said, I couldn’t imagine it would come in a pandemic, my first head coaching opportunity. Nonetheless, we’re here, so I’m just ready to make strides. It’s all new, it’s brand-new for everybody involved.”
Edwards was a two-time captain at New Hampshire, and as an assistant coach at Stonehill, she has seen the Northeast-10 conference first-hand.
She inherits a team that hasn’t had a winning conference record since 2011-12. The Golden Knights’ only winning record in the last eight seasons was 14-13, in 2015-16.
“I know what kind of opponents we have in this league, and I know we have to be working at a certain level in order to compete with some of these programs that have experienced success for a long time,” she said. “I really feel strongly that we’re going to have the support we need in order to do that. It’s really just about having the pieces and getting them together and staying on track with what we want to do.”
“After my first conversation with Whitney back in April, I knew that there was something special about her,” Anctil said. “I hung up the phone and ran right to my husband and said, ‘Ooh, I really like her.’ Of course he wanted to know why.
“The answer is that Whitney is a leader. She’s a proven recruiter with an eye for talent, a relationship-builder. She’s a competitor, a winner, and most importantly a positive role model for the young women she coaches. She’s amazing, and she’s going to do amazing things for Saint Rose women’s basketball.”
Edwards is a native of Mount Vernon and said she’s looking forward to coaching games in front of family.
She faces certain challenges getting to know her new team because of the circumstances of the coronavirus, but believes she can eventually mold them into players like herself.
“As far as style of play, I have to meet my players where they are a bit at this point and familiarize myself with who they are and what their strengths are and what we need to work on,” she said. “It remains to be seen, but it will be gritty. It’ll be hard-working. It’ll be fun, it’ll be loud and it’ll be smart. Those are things I’ve always valued as a coach and as a player. I was definitely known for my defensive ability. I love to bring that element to the game. And just energy. I want us to play hard but also be goal-driven and result-driven, as well.”