New London — The program's 5-19 record was irrelevant to Alex Ivansheck. Her decision to accept the job as new women's basketball coach at Coast Guard Academy was a product of, well, Coast Guard Academy.
"They get terrific student-athletes," she said Thursday night during a telephone conversation. "Department wise, they've had very successful teams. Softball just had a great year. Men's basketball a few years ago went to the Elite Eight. The potential is there. It's a very supportive athletic department. They want their programs to be successful."
And now the Bears get a coach with a solid resume and ties to the region as a native of Salem.
Ivansheck, a 2000 graduate of Norwich Free Academy, is a product of two state championship teams under coach Bill Scarlata. She spent the last six seasons as an assistant coach at Ithaca College, where she helped the Bombers win 116 games, four regular season league championships, two conference tournament titles and make three trips to the NCAA tournament.
"It's difficult to describe what Alex means to the Ithaca College women's basketball program. Her contributions - first as a player, then as a coach - are immeasurable," Ithaca coach Dan Raymond said in a press release. "She poured her heart and soul into our program for 11 years and has been the cornerstone for what the program has become. The Coast Guard Academy has chosen a true leader."
Ivansheck said she heard about the job "through the grapevine" and "jumped at the opportunity" because of Coast Guard's reputation.
"I'm confident and excited that our women's basketball program will return to a high level of success," Tim Fitzpatrick, Coast Guard Academy Director of Athletics, said in the release. "Her credentials as a coach and a student-athlete are very strong. She is a person of great enthusiasm, basketball knowledge and integrity whose presence will immediately elevate our program."
Ivansheck also coached at William Smith. She graduated from Ithaca in 2005, then spent the 2005-06 season with the women's basketball staff at William Smith, where she helped the Herons to the second round of the NCAA playoffs. William Smith finished 22-8 and won the Liberty League's regular-season and tournament titles.
She interned with the Women's Sport Foundation as an undergraduate at Ithaca. Ivansheck earned her bachelor's degree in sport management with a minor in coaching in 2004 and received a master's degree in business administration in 2005.
"We are all very excited about Alex becoming the women's basketball coach at Coast Guard," Scarlata said in a release. "Alex was always a hard-working individual with a very high basketball IQ. She commanded respect of both the coaching staff and her peers."
Ivansheck, who played guard at NFA, said her appreciation for good basketball came as a little kid going to NFA games.
"I had a great experience there playing for a serious, competitive, winning program," she said. "I remember going to their games and watching coach Scarlata on the sidelines. I knew that's where I wanted to go."
The Bears return all five starters from last year's team and will open the season at home Nov. 15 vs. Mitchell.