By Richard Pryor III
On March 28, 2017, Athletic Director Mark Webb announced the hiring of Tracey Braden as the new head women’s basketball coach. Braden is currently the head coach at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. Braden replaces Dickie McCarthy, the interim coach for the season, and previous head coach from 2003 to 2014.
McCarthy, who serves as the Assistant Athletic Director and Director of Internal Operations, and assistant coach Michelle Thibodeaux, the assistant softball coach, were brought onto the team by Webb in 2016 to replace Tom Campbell and Amber Gilliam, who both resigned. Under Braden, the 2016-17 Westminster Blue Jays had a record of nine wins and 15 losses and seven wins and nine losses in their conference, placing them seventh of nine in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC).
At Westminster, Braden oversaw four SLIAC regular season championships, as well as two SLIAC tournament championships, which both led to automatic bids to the NCAA tournament. Her overall record was 155 wins and 100 losses, the most wins for a Westminster coach. Her players also had many academic awards to their name.
Braden’s main success was on the defensive end of the court. This season, Sewanee’s defense was 334th in the nation, allowing a total of 1723 points over 25 games. Comparatively, Westminster’s defense was 311th in the nation, allowing 1479 points over 22 games.
Braden’s challenge at Sewanee will be replacing the graduating guard Savannah Rose (C’17). Rose, one of three players to start every game for Sewanee this season, finished with eight points per game and five rebounds per game. She was one of the leaders on the team for most minutes played over the course of the season. While top scorer Bella Taylor (C’19) has two more years until she leaves the team, Rose’s presence on the court will be undoubtedly missed, and Braden must work to ensure that the Tigers play at the same level next year.