ALBANY — Heather Forster laughs about it when the topic is brought up.
But, yes, she has played for “all the coaches” during her time with the University at Albany women’s basketball program.
“And change is always hard,” a smiling Forster said during Tuesday’s media day event for UAlbany’s basketball programs. “It’s the unknown of who your coach will be next — but I really like who they chose.”
That new coach for Forster and the Great Danes is Colleen Mullen, who replaced Joanna Bernabei-McNamee after the former UAlbany coach left for the same position at Boston College. Two years before that, Bernabei-McNamee had replaced Katie Abrahamson-Henderson after that coach left UAlbany for Central Florida.
Forster, a 6-foot-2 senior, will end up the lone UAlbany player to play for Abrahamson-Henderson, Bernabei-McNamee and Mullen. Another UAlbany senior, Chyanna Canada, transferred to UAlbany during Abrahamson-Henderson’s final season, but did not see the court until the 2016-17 season with Bernabei-McNamee at the helm.
Mullen said Canada and Forster have been impressive leaders for the rest of the Great Danes as the coach has continued working molding the program into the way she wants.
“They know how to adapt to a new environment and a new system,” said Mullen, whose team officially starts practice next Monday. “They’ve been a great example of work ethic and commitment.”
UAlbany did lose a few players in the transition from Bernabei-McNamee to Mullen. Forster, though, said leaving was never an option she considered. Two of Forster’s siblings previously played sports at UAlbany, with older sister Julie playing basketball and older brother Jack playing football.
“I always like to say that I fell in love with Albany back when I was in sixth grade,” said Forster, who first visited the school back then with her sister.
So when Forster learned a new head coach was coming to UAlbany, the Huntington native embraced that change was coming for her senior year.
“I couldn’t really ever see myself anywhere else,” Forster said. “I never could imagine not being here.”
Through offseason workouts, Forster said she has been encouraged with the direction Mullen has taken the program.
“We’re having a lot of fun. We like her style and we’re excited for what’s to come,” Forster said. “We really trust her and we’re buying into her program.”
Among players who left the UAlbany program was Cece Mayo, a Shaker High School product who transferred to Northwest Florida State College.
“It’s a great opportunity for her there,” Mullen said. “She’s going to learn and grow there, and she’s going to continue to develop as a player and as a person.”
UAlbany lost guards Emma List and Mackenzie Trpcic in the spring. Mayo, Mullen said, made her decision to leave UAlbany during the summer.
“She was somebody coming back that I anticipated helping us on the court this year,” Mullen said.
After departures from the program, UAlbany has 11 players on its roster for the 2018-19 season.
“One of our biggest focuses has been making sure we’re thinking about injury prevention,” Mullen said.
With that in mind, the Great Danes have already mapped out their full practice schedule for the season. Some practices, Mullen said, will include no more than one hour of physical activity.
“That way,” Mullen said, “we’ll conserve our legs.”