CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – “I’m just so humbled and excited by this opportunity. Especially to be in a new state, a new environment, with such a great community like D&E. The town of Elkins has been nothing short of welcoming for me,” said Davis & Elkins women’s basketball coach Rachel Swartz.
Swartz was named the next head coach for the program in April, taking over a club entering its second year in the Mountain East Conference, and all but one player returning from a year ago.
“I think just the excitement of being able to work with such a large group of girls. The roster is 16 to 18 kids right now. So, being able to mesh all of those personalities, and those talents is going to be fun. We have a lot of great people that are returning stepping up, and our incoming freshmen are very excited. I’m looking forward to it,” said Swartz.
Being named a new head coach of any program comes with its own unique set of challenges. And being named a head coach during a pandemic can make that transition even harder.
Luckily, technology is smoothing that transition.
“Well kind of how we are, right now, right? It’s what I’ve been doing a lot. It’s a lot of Zoom meetings with the team, getting a good feel for me and for them, kind of being able to hang out, if you will online,” Swartz said.
Another thing that can make the transition even easier for Swartz and her new team is having a player like Jamiyah Johnson, who garnered national attention last year, leading the way.
“I’m so excited to actually get to coach her. I’ve heard of her, actually, before I was even given this opportunity coach. Last year she had the most Division 2 double-doubles, both in program history and in the country. So, she was definitely on my radar that way, kind of seeing some headlines,” said Swartz.
Swartz has bounced around the country during her playing and coaching career, setting up shop at stops in Tennessee, Missouri, and her native state of Washington.
Now she gets her first head coaching job in the Mountain State, roughly 2,700 miles from home.
“It just seemed like a perfect fit. It’s not just about me and my staff and the women’s basketball program, it’s about the community, too. And I really felt like I could embody that and be part of the positive change moving forward. So, it was an awesome experience and I’m really excited to continue it,” Swartz said.
Swartz says she’s part of a bit of a culture change within Senators athletics, bringing in a fast style of play and a west-coast mindset to a program that could be on the rise.