Four successful coaches, including two high school and two collegiate head mentors, have been selected to serve as court coaches during the 2018 USA Basketball Women’s U17 World Cup Team Trials. Named as court coaches were Bobbie Awa (Konawaena H.S., Hawaii), Kristen Dowling (Claremont-Mudd-Scripps College), Dave Slifer (University of Central Missouri) and Sophia Witherspoon (Fort Pierce Central H.S., Fla.).
All four coaches will be taking part in their first USA Basketball coaching assignment at the 2018 USA Women’s U17 World Cup Team Trials, which will take place May 24-28 at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The court coaches will assist the USA U17 coaching staff of Carla Berube (Tufts University), Steve Gomez (Lubbock Christian University) and Vanessa Nygaard (Windward School, Calif.) during trials.
“We are pleased to have Bobbie, Kristen, Dave and Sophia to serve as court coaches during the USA Women’s U17 Trials,” said Carol Callan, USA Basketball women’s national team director and chair of the USA Basketball Women’s Developmental National Team Committee, which is responsible for selecting the USA U17 athletes and staff. “Each of them are successful coaches with their programs, and we know that they will transfer their knowledge and energy to each and every athlete at trials.”
Awa has been the head girls basketball coach at Konawaena High School for 17 seasons (2001-02 to present), where she has led her teams to nine state titles and has compiled a 430-41 record (.913 winning percentage).
This past season in 2017-18, she led her team to a 27-2 record and a fourth-straight Division I state championship.
She has been named the 2015, 2017 and 2018 USA Today All-Hawaii Coach of the Year.
“I am honored and excited to serve as a court coach for the USA Women’s U17 Trials,” Awa said. “To work with the amazing and experienced USA Basketball committee, U17 coaching staff and the top players in the country will truly be an incredible opportunity. I am proud to represent Konawaena High School, the Big Island community and the State of Hawaii during this event.”
Dowling recently completed her sixth season (2012-13 to present) as head coach at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, where she has compiled an overall record of 123-43 (.741).
In 2017-18, she led her team to a 23-4 record and a fifth-consecutive Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular season championship.
She also spent two seasons (2010-11 and 2011-12) as an assistant coach at Pepperdine University, two seasons as an assistant coach at California State University Bakersfield (2008-09 and 2009-10) and two seasons as a graduate assistant at Pepperdine (2006-07 and 2007-08).
“I am incredibly honored and humbled to work with and learn from the best at USA Basketball,” Dowling said. “It is an amazing opportunity to coach great talent and to learn from great coaches and great people. I’m very grateful.”
Slifer recently completed his 14th season (2004-05 to present) at the helm of Central Missouri in 2017-18, where he has compiled a record of 281-139 (.670 winning percentage). In 29 years overall as a head coach, he owns a career record of 665-238 (.736).
In 2017-18, Slifer led Central Missouri to a 30-3 record and an NCAA Division II National Championship. The NCAA Division II Tournament appearance was Slifer’s eighth in 14 years and the sixth in the past nine seasons.
“This is a tremendous honor, and I’d like to thank USA Basketball for giving me this opportunity,” Slifer said. “Women’s basketball as a sport is continuing to grow in popularity across the country, so getting the chance to coach at the U17 trials is like getting a look into the future of our sport. I’m looking forward to seeing the best of the best in the United States and having a hand in both their personal development and the development of women’s basketball.”
Witherspoon has been the head girls basketball coach at her alma mater, Fort Pierce Central High School, for eight seasons (2009-10 to present), where she also is an assistant coach for boys and girls tennis.
In 2017-18, she led her team to a 16-11 record and the Region 2-9A championship game.
As a USA Basketball athlete, she earned a bronze medal and a 6-2 record as a member of the 1993 USA World University Games Team and a bronze medal and 1-3 record as a member of the South team at the 1989 U.S. Olympic Festival.
She played seven seasons in the WNBA, including winning a championship with the Los Angeles Sparks in 2002.
“It is truly an honor and humbling opportunity,” Witherspoon said. “I am excited to play a small part in helping to make the selection committee’s job a little easier as they are tasked with choosing the 2018 USA Women’s U17 World Cup Team.”
On April 10, 35 athletes were announced as having accepted invitations to attend trials, however, it also was possible for athletes to submit an application to attend trials, for a maximum of approximately 150 participants. The complete trials roster will be announced in late May.
Following trials, the selected finalists will remain in Colorado Springs for training camp from May 28-30 and the naming of the official roster on May 30 or 31. The 12 team members will return to Colorado Springs to resume training camp, which will run from July 4-20. Athletes eligible for this team must be U.S. citizens who are 17 years old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 2001).