FOXBORO - Foxboro High alum and girls' varsity basketball coach Sarah Behn was named head coach of the UMass-Lowell women's basketball team on Tuesday. Behn spent seven years at the helm for the Warriors, with MIAA Tournament appearances in each of the last six seasons. She'll become the sixth head coach in the Riverhawks'36-year program history.
"I've really been impressed and I'm anxious to begin," said Behn. "Initially I was attracted to the job because it was part of the Northeast-10 Conference. That's arguably the best Division II conference on the East Coast. It's a terrific conference."
Merrimack College also had an opening that drew Behn's interest, but UMass-Lowell went through the hiring process quickly.
"(Merrimack and UMass-Lowell) are schools that I had a lot of respect for with their athletics and their academics," she said. "They place a lot of importance on athletics. I really liked the (athletic director Dana Skinner) and all the coaches; it just seemed like a real hard-working family and a place that I wanted to be."
The Riverhawks went 9-18 last season with a 8-14 mark in the NE-10, getting knocked out in the first round of the conference tournament with a 74-59 loss at Saint Michael's. The 2011-12 Riverhawks will return four starters from last year's squad. Behn's body of work spoke for itself when it came time to name a new coach.
"Sarah Behn's accomplishments as one of the region's greatest players, her operation of the largest basketball camp program in New England, along with her past experience coaching at the high school and college levels made her a compelling candidate from the beginning of the process," Skinner said in a press release. "We are excited that she will be bringing her many contacts and high energy to UMass-Lowell."
Behn went 86-66 coaching the Warriors, good for a .565 winning percentage. The 2010 Sun Chronicle Coach of the Year brought Foxboro to MIAA South Sectional semifinal appearances in 2007 and 2010. She was one of Foxboro's longest-tenured coaches, as the school has brought in several young hires over the last several years.
"I'm sorry to see her go," said FHS Athletic Director Craig Najarian. "I'll miss having her here. I always thought she was a college-caliber coach. So, it didn't surprise me when she applied, interviewed and was offered the job. I wish her luck."
The school will open up the search for a replacement immediately, with both inside and outside candidates being considered.
Behn's career in basketball is long and illustrious as both player and coach. She was Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior at Foxboro High and ended her Warrior career with a then-state record 2,562 points.
At Boston College, Behn was a freshman All-American and became the all-time leading scorer in Big East regular season games with 1,546 points, and was second in the country in scoring her senior year. She is a member of the Boston College Hall of Fame and is the only female student-athlete to have her number (33) retired at the school. Her number is one of two retired at Foxboro High.
She previously coached in the college ranks at Framingham State (1997-2000) and Franklin Pierce (2000-02), enjoying success at both stops. She left Franklin Pierce, a NE-10 rival of UMass-Lowell, to give birth to her twin sons, Jack and Joey (both nine years old).
"I might've continued (to coach in college) if it had been one baby, but it got to be a little too much," she said.
She and her husband Tim are now parents of four - Teddy (five) and Gracie (two) being the other two.
A Foxboro "townie" by her own admission, Behn plans to maintain residence in Foxboro, eschewing a shorter commute. She will continue her role as president of the Sarah Behn Basketball Camp, which has educated roughly 25,000 boys and girls in the sport of basketball since its inception in 1994. Behn also hopes to keep her hands busy in the Foxboro youth basketball program, as she'll continue to be involved in and around the Foxboro community.
"I'm a Foxboro girl," she said. "My kids love it here (as does) my husband. I'm going to be working in Lowell, but I live in Foxboro. I'll always be a Warrior and have that blue and gold blood. I have confidence that they'll pick a great coach and their winning ways and pride will continue."