Sahar Nusseibeh, who is currently an assistant coach at Manhattan College in Riverdale, New York, spent the 2015-16 season as an assistant coach at Bowling Green State University where she helped guide the Falcons to a 10-18 season. In her first of three seasons with BGSU, the Falcons won 30 games, the second-highest win total in both school and Mid-American Conference history. That same year, they claimed the MAC’s regular-season crown with a 17-1 conference record. BGSU went on to win three games in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament for the first time in program’s history.
Tell us a little about your background?
I’m an Ohio girl - born and raised. I played basketball at American University in Washington D.C., where I studied international relations and business. I did my graduate work at the University of Cincinnati and served as a graduate manager for the women’s program. I then received my first coaching opportunity at the College of the Holy Cross. I coached there for two years, then made the move back to the Midwest to coach at Bowling Green State University. I’ve been fortunate to know great people who have reached out to give me some incredible opportunities thus far!
What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time I enjoy being outside. I love to run and will often spend my free weekends participating in half-marathons. A few years back I was introduced to yoga. I absolutely love the physical, mental and spiritual benefits that come along with it, so I enjoy that when I can. I also really enjoy reading. Books on leadership, self-improvement, coaching, psychology and business are my go-to topics. Lastly, I try to be involved in community events as much as possible.
When did you know you wanted to be a coach?
I’ve known I wanted to be a coach since high school. My high school coach, Paul Wackerly, sparked a passion in me that I didn’t even know existed. He was so instrumental in my development, and his commitment to his players was incredible. His investment in us made an impact on me that has changed my life. In a large part to him, I am where I am and I am who I am. The positive influence he’s had on me, and many others, is what made me realize that coaching is what I want to do for my life’s work.
Do you have any pre-game rituals?
I have a few pre-game rituals I will do with some of the players. I will also rebound for our players before games. The only other ritual I have is prayer.
What is/are the most challenging part(s) of your role?
The most challenging part of my role is to assist in ensuring that all members of our program not only buy in, but also believe in (the vision). To me, there is a big difference between buy-in and “believe-in.” When you have “believe-in” from EVERYONE, truly amazing things can happen. It requires absolute selflessness from every person involved, a tough task for any program. That is probably the most challenging, yet important, part to being a coach - creating a family in which everyone not only buys in, but believes in (it).
How do you work through these challenges?
You must simply live out your program’s values in everything you do. Your actions as a coach speak volumes to those around you. If I want our players, managers and trainers to have “believe-in,” then I must consistently do everything I can to show that I, myself, believe in what we’re about. I, myself, must live selflessly and for others.
Briefly state your coaching philosophy; What values are important to you that you try to instill in your student-athletes?
I believe that to be a coach is an absolute privilege - one that holds tremendous power. It’s our responsibility to be and to give our best to our student-athletes every day. I strive to develop our young women as players, teammates, leaders and, most of all, as people. I will challenge them to stretch themselves in order to grow, as well as support and help guide them through this growth process. I will love, serve and care for every young woman who I get to coach. I will do this by fully investing in their personal development above all else.
Some values that are important to instill in our student-athletes are resilience, toughness, service to others, selflessness, trust, courage, authenticity and respect.
What is your favorite memory in your current coaching role thus far?
My favorite memories will always be watching our student-athletes walk across the stage to receive their diploma. It is a celebration of four years of commitment to their institution and their basketball program. It also symbolizes the beginning of a new chapter in their lives, an opportunity to continue their personal growth.
What does it mean to you to be recognized as a WBCA “Thirty Under 30” honoree?
I consider it to be a great honor any time your fellow colleagues recognize your efforts as a coach. I feel very blessed to know so many incredible people in this profession who constantly motivate and inspire me to continue to work to the best of my abilities. An honor such as this only motivates me even more to continue to raise my standards daily, so that I can do better & be better for others. I am grateful for what I have, and I am inspired to do more.
The WBCA recognizes annually the WBCA's Thirty Under 30 recipients. This recognition was created to honor thirty of the up-and-coming women's basketball coaches age 30 and under in the sport at all levels of the game.