NEW YORK — Columbia women’s basketball senior Camille Zimmerman is at the Women’s Final Four in Columbus, Ohio, participating in the “So You Want To Be A Coach” program, presented in partnership with the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) and Alliance of Women’s Coaches. Zimmerman was selected for the three-day program in January, which runs March 28-30.
The "So You Want To Be A Coach" program assists female collegiate basketball players who are interested in pursuing a career in coaching women's basketball by providing them with professional development and career advancement through education, skills enhancement, networking and exposure opportunities. The program also increases awareness regarding the availability of talented female basketball players who want to coach.
The program is conducted each year as part of the WBCA Convention at the Final Four. Each year's class has limited space and enrollees are selected from those nominated by their head coaches.
“Coach Griffith and our graduate assistant, Shelbi, have both gone through the program in previous years, and they recommended it to me since I have expressed interest in coaching,” said Zimmerman, who is Columbia’s all-time leader in points and rebounds. “I want to learn about the player-to-coach transition because it’s a whole different side of basketball. I am excited to learn about the thinking and decision making processes that goes into the other side of the game. I just want to absorb as much information as possible and meet people in the coaching business. It will be a fun environment to be around other student-athletes interested in coaching. I am also looking forward to attending the Final Four games and experiencing March Madness in person.”
Zimmerman is one of 62 student-athletes nationwide and the only student-athlete from the Ivy League that was selected for the program. There are several requirements for selection into the program, which include maintaining a minimum 2.5 GPA, having exhausted your final year of basketball eligibility, being a women’s basketball player who wants to pursue a career in coaching and being a credit to the sport of women’s basketball both on and off the court. Zimmerman entered her final semester with a 3.43 GPA and was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District 1 First Team in February.
“I really love everything about basketball and when I am done pursuing my professional playing career, coaching is something I am definitely considering,” Zimmerman added. “Basketball is so creative and as a coach I think I could continue to explore new aspects of the game. One of the major reasons I want to be a coach is because of the examples set for me by my coaches. I know what it feels like to have a coach who really cares about my well-being and growth as a player and person, and that is something I would love to pass on to a team of my own one day. I am also very competitive, so being able to tackle the game of basketball from the mental and strategic side would be an exciting challenge for me.”
The WBCA "So" program has graduated 814 participants in its 15-year history. Fifty-four percent, excluding the 2017 class, are currently working in women's or girls' basketball at various levels of the profession. A total of 53 "So" alumni are head women's or girls' basketball coaches: five in NCAA Division I, three in NCAA Division II, 11 in NCAA Division III, one in the NAIA, four on the two-year college level, and 29 on the high school level.
Zimmerman, who will graduate with a degree in economics from Columbia College in May, wants to be a coach who enforces the importance academics plays in empowering future student-athletes to achieve life’s biggest goals.
“I would like to eventually be a head coach at an academically rigorous university. I think that being able to be a part of young women’s life in college by coaching them would be really special, and I like the added challenge of helping young women that are not only going to achieve on the court but in the classroom. I want to empower young women to be the best basketball players they can be, but also be better people in life, and help them find their calling when they graduate. While I would like to end up coaching women, I would be interested in gaining some experience coaching on the men’s side as well. The men’s and women’s games are so different, but I think we can all can contribute and learn something from each other’s’ sport.”