Pace University women’s basketball head coach Carrie Seymour was featured in a story in Norwalk’s The Hour.
From The Hour:
It was Thursday afternoon and Carrie Seymour was back in her coaching office after putting the Pace University women’s basketball team through a two-hour practice.
“It’s been a long couple of days,” the tired voice on the other end of the phone said. “We didn’t get back here until 3:30 yesterday morning.”
Seymour and the Setters were still trying to get their legs under them after a long bus ride up and back to Vermont, where they beat St. Michael’s College 57-51 in a Northeast-10 Conference battle Tuesday night.
Less than 24 hours later, the Pace women were back on the court, preparing for Saturday afternoon’s showdown at home against Bentley College in a rematch of last year’s NCAA Division II East Regional final.
There’s certainly no rest for the weary. Especially not for head coaches.
But back when she was playing basketball for Norwalk High School in 1979 and helping the Lady Bears to a 20-0 regular season, Carrie Seymour never envisioned coaching her own team someday.
Heck, even if she did, she could have never imagined it would have been coaching on the collegiate level and at the same school for two decades no less.
But 33 years after she played her last game for NHS which, incidentally, came in the Class LL state final Seymour is in her 20th season as the head women’s basketball coach at Pace.
“Twenty years? No, it’s crazy. It really has kind of flied by,” Seymour said. “When I say it — ’20 years’ — I don’t think I’m talking about myself.”
A lot of other people are talking about her, though. All Seymour has done during this latest chapter of her life is turn Pace University into one of the most successful Division II women’s basketball programs in the northeast.
The Setters were 24-9 last season and went to the NCAA tournament for the ninth time in Seymour’s 19 years. Throw in the three Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) championships she’s won, and Pace has made the postseason 12 times during her watch.
With a 9-3 record so far this season, Seymour is the school’s all-time leader with 374 career wins.
In fact, she was the fourth-fastest Division II women’s basketball coach to reach 100 victories, recording the milestone in her 127th game in 1996-97. She notched her 200th win in 2002 and her 300th victory in 2008. With an average of 19 wins per season, win No. 400 should come sometime next season.
Not bad for someone who never really thought coaching was in her future.
“I didn’t really plan on it,” Seymour, who played at Division III Eastern Connecticut State University, admitted. “When I was an undergraduate player, I had to go back for a couple of semesters to finish up.
“My coach at Eastern, Bob Miller, asked me if I wanted to help him coach. That’s when I started and when I thought about making it a career. I don’t think I would’ve gotten into coaching if he hadn’t asked me.
“As an undergraduate, I started off in physical education, then changed to psychology. But I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. Obviously I loved basketball and being around it, but I don’t know if that’s what I would’ve done if I didn’t stay for those extra semesters. I’m glad I did.”
After one year at Eastern, Seymour became a Division I assistant coach at Marist College for one year, at Holy Cross for another, and then six seasons at St. John’s University before landing at Pace in 1992.
It didn’t take her very long to make an impact, either, guiding the Setters to 20-win seasons her first five years — 24, 27, 22, 23, 24 wins, respectively — as well as the ECAC title her first season and a berth in the NCAA Sweet 16 in only her second year.
What made the job even more attractive to her was the fact Pace is located in Pleasantville, N.Y., just 25 miles away from Norwalk, where her parents, Alan and Gloria Seymour, still live.
“During the season it’s tough for me to get home. Our schedule is so unpredictable, seven days a week,” she said. “But I get to Connecticut as much as I can in the summertime and on holidays. I just spent a lot of time there over Christmas.”
But while she doesn’t get back to her hometown as much as she’d like, it’s not as difficult for her parents to drive 45 minutes to Westchester County to see her.
“Actually my father comes to every one of our home games,” she said. “I don’t think he’s missed a home game this season. My older brother drives him and sometimes he drives himself.
“My dad always says he comes to watch the team, but whenever someone asks my mom, she tells them she comes to watch me coach.”
Seymour does get back to Connecticut and other parts of New England during recruiting trips. While most of her roster is comprised of players from the New York area, she did sign freshman Emily Armstrong, a 5-8 guard from Fairfield who played at Ludlowe last season.
“We try to recruit in the tri-state area,” Seymour pointed out. “We get a little bit into New England, too, but the bulk of our conference is from New England. We find we have a little more success with local players.”
Wherever they’re from, Seymour is proud of the fact the majority of players she’s recruited the last two decades are quality student-athletes who graduate and go on to enjoy successful careers after basketball.
“Our players have always had their priorities right,” she noted. “While they love playing basketball, their priority is academics and preparing to be successful when they graduate.
“We’ve been very lucky. We’ve had very good kids who come from nice families and have super parents. It’s been fun. Sometimes you can’t control all those things, but we’ve been lucky. We haven’t had any academic problems or behavior problems and I think it carries over every year when new freshmen come in.”
Seymour did make two other trips to her home state in late 2011. The first was for an exhibition game between her team and the UConn Huskies on Nov. 9 at the XL Center in Hartford, a game the overmatched Setters lost 85-35.
“That was fun,” the Pace coach said. “It was only an exhibition game, but I was surprised how many people showed up. The XL Center was about half full, which for us was a big crowd.
“They’re obviously the best women’s basketball has to offer,” she added. “They can pretty much pick a number how much they will beat you by, but Geno (Auriemma) usually takes it easy on Division II schools.
“It was a good experience and a nice atmosphere playing on a big stage like that. We were only down by 15 at the half so my girls were happy.”
Four days later, Seymour and her team returned to the Nutmeg State for their season opener, a 71-62 win over the University of Bridgeport.
That was the first of five straight wins to start the season, setting the tone for what appears to be another successful campaign.
“It’s going to be tough. Our conference is very competitive,” a cautious Seymour said, “We’ve been winning games, but we’ve been up and down. We graduated a big class. We graduated three kids who played a lot of minutes. The upperclassmen on this year’s team are just now starting to take on that role.
“It’s a big transition. We put a lot of expectations on our upperclassmen and sometimes it’s tough. But Tuesday night (the win over St. Michael’s) was probably the best game we played all season as a team.”
The highlight of Seymour’s coaching career came in 2000-01 when she led the Setters to the Division II Elite Eight in Minnesota.
“At our level, that’s equivalent to going to the Final Four,” Seymour said. “We were 30 seconds away from winning the Regionals last year and going back to the Elite Eight. It was 10 years after the first time we went and we were playing in the same building against the same opponent (Bentley), but we broke down in the last 30 seconds. It was still a great effort.
“Every year, that’s the goal. It’s a tough region and a very tough conference, but it would be great to get back there.”
Seymour’s superb coaching has certainly not gone unnoticed. She’s been recognized as the NIT/Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association Division II Coach of the Year six times, and is a two-time WBCA District Coach of the Year.
“A lot of that is because of the work the players put in,” she explained. “The way I look at it, you get named coach of the year when your team does something special or unusual. I coach the same way every year, but some years my players overachieve and reach a level they’re not expected to.
“Even in my worst seasons I felt I worked just as hard. The only thing that changed were the players.”
Seymour learned from some pretty good coaches herself at Norwalk High when she played basketball for Don Foust and softball for Ray Barry.
Seymour, in fact, had the distinction of scoring one of the biggest runs in NHS softball history. It occurred in the 1978 FCIAC softball championship game against Westhill at Calf Pasture. With the scored tied in the bottom of the seventh, Barry put Seymour, a junior, in as a pinch-runner because of her speed, and she eventually raced home with the winning run to give the Bears the first of their record 11 FCIAC titles.
She laughed when someone suggested she was the answer to a local trivia question.
“As a pinch-runner of all things,” she said. “I guess I was in the right place at the right time.”
But Seymour, a three-sport athlete who also played field hockey, said she definitely brought some of the lessons she learned from being coached by Barry and Foust to her own coaching career, even though she never thought of coaching back then.
The kind of defense the Bears played under Foust, for example, is still something she calls upon. It’s no accident Pace has ranked among the top 10 teams nationally in scoring defense in five of the past 14 seasons and led the nation in defensive field goal percentage three times.
“Mr. Foust was very big on working on the defensive end,” Seymour said. “I didn’t play any organized sports before high school and when Don Foust and Ray Barry took over as head coaches, I felt I was doing something important. Everything went to a different level when they came in.
“In basketball and softball, I remember always feeling we were very prepared, always more prepared than our opponents.”
Kind of sounds like the Pace University women’s basketball team.
That’s why with the kind of work ethic she’s displayed the last 20 years, there are many basketball observers who have no doubt Carrie Seymour would’ve been successful at the Division I level as well.
“I’ve looked into a dozen or so Division I jobs since I’ve been at Pace and I had some interviews,” the former D-I assistant said. “Around NCAA time when the brackets are handed out, I miss it.
“But once you start coaching, basketball is basketball, no matter what level you’re at. The situation here has been very good, the support of the university has been excellent, and we play in a great conference. The players are given the resources to be successful and they’re expected to be successful.
“I consider it a privilege to coach people at this age and be in a position to help them be successful. It’s been a rewarding experience.”
Pace University must feel the same way.
View the original article here.