Gomez Named Team USA U16 Assistant Coach

LUBBOCK, TX - USA Basketball announced their head coach and coaching staff for the 2017 USA Basketball Women’s U16 National Team, naming Carla Berube (Tufts University) head coach. They also selected Lubbock Christian University women’s basketball head coach Steve Gomez and Vanessa Nygaard (Windward School in Los Angeles, Calif.) to complete her staff as USA assistant coaches. The coaching staff was selected by the USA Basketball Women’s Developmental National Team Committee and approved by the USA Basketball Board of Directors.

“Carla, Steve and Vanessa not only have had success with their respective programs, they also have experience with USA Basketball at this age group,” said Carol Callan, USA Basketball Women’s National Team director and chair of the USA Basketball Women’s Developmental National Team Committee. “The committee is confident that their leadership will benefit all of the players who attend trials and those who make the 12-member USA roster.”

The USA will compete in the 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship from June 7-11 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where it will be in the hunt for a gold medal as well as a berth into the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup, which is awarded to the top four finishing teams.

Trials to determine finalists for the 12-member roster for the 2017 USA Women’s U16 National Team will take place May 25-29 at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Players eligible for this team must be U.S. citizens born on or after Jan. 1, 2001. 

In addition to the approximately 35 athletes who will receive a trials invitation from the USA Basketball Women’s Developmental National Team Committee, trials were open to as many as 115 applicant athletes. The complete trials roster is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Gomez previously was a court coach for the 2016 USA Basketball Women’s U17 World Championship Team Trials. He recently completed his 14th season (2003-04 to present) as head coach at Lubbock Christian, where he has posted an overall record of 334-115 (.744). LCU finished 19-11 in 2016-17, and since competing in the NCAA Division II beginning in 2013-14, Gomez has compiled a striking 100-19 (.840) DII record. In 2015-16, Lubbock Christian claimed the NCAA Division II national championship and a perfect 35-0 season, leading to United States Marine Corps/WBCA NCAA Div. II National Coach of the Year accolades.

An LCU graduate, Gomez was a standout perimeter player for Coach John Copeland in the late 1980s, and to this day, he still holds the school record for career free throw percentage at .855.  He graduated in 1988 with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Mathematics and consistently used his degree to teach in the classroom while pursuing coaching on the sidelines.  Gomez's career began at Lubbock Monterey High School where he served as an assistant coach in the men's basketball program from 1988 to 1995.  In 1996, Gomez accepted the men's basketball head coaching position at Lubbock Cooper High School, where he remained until returning to Lubbock Christian University to take over the reigns of the Lady Chaps in 2003.  During his seven seasons at Cooper, the basketball program broke new ground making the playoffs four times, managing the school's first state ranking, and capturing the Pirates only district championship in Gomez's final season.  Gomez has been married to his wife Shawna for 26 years, and the couple has two children: Hayden and Landon.

“It is really difficult to adequately express what it means to have the opportunity coach for USA Basketball,” Gomez said. “To be able to be a part of the highest quality basketball organization in the world and have a chance to work with the top high school basketball players in the nation is incredibly humbling and a task that I will approach with great respect and enthusiasm.”

Berube will enter her first head coaching assignment with USA Basketball at the helm of the 2017 USA Women’s U16 National Team. Previously, she served as a court coach at the 2016 USA Basketball Women’s U17 World Championship Team Trials, and as an athlete, she was a member of the bronze medalist 1994 U.S. Olympic Festival East Team.

Berube, who was presented the Pat Summitt Trophy as the 2015 United States Marine Corps/WBCA NCAA Division III National Coach of the Year, has spent 15 years (2002-03 to present) as head coach at Tufts, where she owns a 330-88 record. Her outstanding .789 winning percentage ranks 10th among active coaches in Division III.

In 2016-17, Berube led Tufts to the NCAA Division III championship game and an impressive 30-3 record, which tied for the most wins in program history.

The Jumbos have advanced to the NCAA Division III Final Four in four consecutive seasons, including reaching the national title game in 2016 and 2017, and under the team has earned nine NCAA Division III tournament berths.

A 1997 graduate from the University of Connecticut, Berube played from 1993-94 to 1996-97, totaling 1,381 points and helping the Huskies to a 130-8 (.942) record during her career. She was a member of the 1995 NCAA Division I national championship team and was named to the 1994 NCAA East Regional All-Tournament Team.

“I’m thrilled to be working alongside both Steve and Vanessa,” Berube said of the 2017 USA assistant coaches. “I got to know and work with Steve last year at the trials. He has a great basketball mind, has an awesome passion for the game and brings great energy to the court. Vanessa and I go way back to our AAU days and college when we battled on the court. I have followed her success at Windward over the years from across the country. She does an incredible job preparing her student athletes for college from both an athletic and academic standpoint. Steve and Vanessa have notably different coaching backgrounds, but I see remarkable similarities in their character, leadership and ability to connect with and motivate players, and I am confident in the expertise they bring to the USA Basketball coaching staff.”

Nygaard suited up for USA Basketball at the 1995 U.S. Olympic Festival, helping the West Team to a 2-2 record and silver medal. She also served as a court coach for the 2013 USA Women’s U16 National Team Trials. Having recently completed her fifth season at the helm of Windward, Nygaard owns a 130-25 record (.839 winning percentage) as the program’s head coach. She took the reins in 2012-13, after serving as an associate head coach there for three seasons (2008-09 to 2011-12). Her 2016-17 squad finished 30-4 and won a California Interscholastic Federation SoCal Division I state title.


2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship

The 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship serves as the Americas zone’s qualifying tournament for the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup, and the top four finishing teams earn a berth.

The eight nations qualified to compete in the FIBA Americas U16 Championship are: Canada and the United States as the North American entries; Argentina (gold medalist), Venezuela (silver medalist) and Colombia (bronze medalist) qualified through the 2016 South American U15 Championship; and from the Centrobasket U15 Championship are Puerto Rico (gold medalist), Dominican Republic (silver medalist) and Mexico (bronze medalist).

Since FIBA Americas initiated the U16 Championship in 2009, USA teams have compiled a 19-1 record and won gold in 2009, 2011 and 2013.

USA U16 National Team players of note include: Lauren Cox (2013), Kaela Davis (2011), Aquira DeCosta (2015), Asia Durr (2013), Rebecca Greenwell (2011), Arike Ogunbowale (2013), Katie Lou Samuelson (2013), Breanna Stewart (2009) and Elizabeth Williams (2009).

(Courtesy LCU Sports Information Department)

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