Former SBU Women’s Basketball head coach O’Boyle prepares for new challenges at VCU

O’Boyle led the Seawolves to 24 wins in the 2013-14 season. (PHOTO CREDIT: AMERICA EAST)

O’Boyle led the Seawolves to 24 wins in the 2013-14 season. (PHOTO CREDIT: AMERICA EAST)

Former Stony Brook Women’s Basketball coach Beth O’Boyle may be 395 miles away at Virginia Commonwealth University, but part of her is still in Stony Brook.

On April 28, the Stony Brook Athletics department announced O’Boyle’s resignation. 

That same day, VCU informed its campus of her arrival and formal introduction on April 29.

But as Stony Brook sports teams have become somewhat accustomed to management changes this year, O’Boyle’s choice to accept the position as VCU’s Women’s Basketball head coach was partly a personal one.

“VCU is an opportunity for me where one of the biggest things is to get closer to home,” O’Boyle said in a phone interview. 

“My family is all in Maryland, less than two hours from here. The opportunity for them to share in my coaching a little bit more and be a closer to them was really a big part of the decision.

“I absolutely love my players at Stony Brook and I couldn’t even imagine not coaching them next year,” she continued. 

“It was extremely difficult and it was really important to me that they hear my decision from me and not on Twitter.”

O’Boyle was hired in April 2011 and with three years of coaching Stony Brook’s team under her belt, she turned the tables, going from four wins in the 2011-2012 season to 24 this year. 

This past March, she guided the Seawolves into their first America East Conference Championship final since 2002 with a 13-3 record. 

Later on that same month, she was named the Met Writers Coach of the Year.

Proud of the development of the basketball program and her relationships with the Stony Brook players, O’Boyle said the team is ready to take on more challenges, even though she will not be there.

“I think the culture is established so that the players are going to excel in the classroom and also work extremely hard in the weight room and on the court,” she said. 

“They’re competitors. Their goals are to compete for the America East Championship. The foundation is there for them to take the next step.”

Although she has not started coaching at VCU due to NCAA regulations, O’Boyle said that working with a young team in a bigger conference and the program’s previous successes were what attracted her to the position.

“I think [it was] the opportunity to compete in the Atlantic 10 Conference,” she said. 

“Shaka [Smart] and the men’s program have been extremely successful and they’ve been to the final four and they’re investing in an incredible $25 million practice facility for the men’s and women’s basketball teams.” 

With new challenges ahead, O’Boyle said there was one goal that she could not quite fulfill during her tenure at SBU.

“I was really looking forward to the opportunity to play in the arena,” she said. 

“I think that that is going to be an incredible experience for the players and obviously the goal is always to win the America East Championship and I think we were really close this year.”

In the official Stony Brook presentation, newly hired athletic director Shawn Heilbron addressed the vacancy O’Boyle left behind.

“The next step for me is to get here, to get started, to hire a Women’s Basketball coach, which is definitely on top of the list,” he said.

O’Boyle said she is confident that the Athletics department will find someone to keep pushing the team forward.

“It is very difficult when your coach leaves and you’ve been used to a certain system and there’s a little bit of an anxiety,” she said. 

“I think [assistant ] coach [Todd Mitmesser] and also Donna Woodruff have done an excellent job of making sure the players are very focused but also understand that finding the next coach is very important and that they’re going to do everything possible to bring in another great coach.”

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