Sanford’s Niki Washington named coach at Bethune Cookman

Former Seminole High School standout Niki Washington has been named associate head coach of the Bethune-Cookman women’s basketball team.

Vanessa Blair-Lewis, BCC women’s basketball head coach, made the announcement Thursday, June 25. Wahington 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.”

washingtonA 16-year coaching veteran, Washington most recently served as head coach at Lynn University in Boca Raton, a position she held for six years.

“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.”

Washington cemented herself as one of the more successful coaches in Lynn University history by claiming several program firsts: winning the first Sunshine State Conference (SSC) 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.

BCC logoDuring 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.

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.

A Sanford native, 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.”

After graduating from Seminole, 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 University (SIU) 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.

washington2Washington’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.”


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