Women’s basketball head coach Amy Backus announced yesterday that she will retire after this season to accept a position as an administrator in the Yale Athletic Department.
The decision comes amid what has been a trying campaign for Yale (5-18, 2-8 Ivy). After opening the season with six straight losses and finishing the non-conference portion of the schedule 3-10, the Elis have struggled in conference play and currently sit in seventh place in the Ivy League standings.
Backus, who has compiled an 53-105 record in her six years as head coach of the Bulldogs, said she has come to a point in her career in which she needs to leave the sidelines and try something new.
“Twenty-five years is a long time to do anything, especially coaching,” she said. “It’s a very fulfilling profession but it can also be very taxing.”
In spite of the Elis’ troubles this season, Backus said she is optimistic about the team’s future. She added that this is an optimal time for a new coach to take over because the team will have no senior members and he or she will have at least two years with all the players.
“I’ll be sad to leave them despite our less-than-stellar performance in the win-loss column this year,” she said. “It’s a young group and a talented group … it’s in good shape.”
Backus said she is looking forward to staying with the Yale Athletic Department, although details about her future role have not yet been finalized. She will remain with the team until a replacement is found.
The announcement, which came as a surprise to players, was met with a wide variety of emotions. But several Elis agreed that now is an appropriate time for a change for both Backus and the team.
“This is a great career move for her, [and] this is a good time as far as the program is concerned,” guard Tory Mauseth ’05 said.
Forward Lindsay Page ’05 said it will be difficult for the team to part ways with Backus because of the “extraordinary history” they have with her, including the many highs and lows of the past several seasons.
For Page, Mauseth and captain Morgan Richards ’05, Backus’s departure from coaching offers additional closure to their college basketball careers.
“To share our last year with Backus’s retirement as coach is kind of special in a way,” Paige said. “We have had four difficult years … and I think that we are ending gracefully together. We’ve learned a lot from each other.”
Backus took over as head coach in 1999 after the retirement of nine-year head coach Cecelia DeMarco. Before coming to Elm City, Backus was an assistant coach for four years at Northwestern University, as well as head coach at Middlebury College from 1987-1994 and at Otterbein College from 1980-1985. She has a combined overall record of 213-202 as a head coach.