College Basketball: Great Bay CC names Britton women's head coach

01/30/2015 by Mike Zhe

PORTSMOUTH – It’s got a conference affiliation in place and a facility under construction. Great Bay Community College took the latest step toward its new athletic identity Friday when it named Allyson Britton the coach of its new women’s basketball team, which will begin play in 2015-16 as a member of the Yankee Small College Conference.

Britton, 31, will oversee a program that will be the league’s 11th women’s basketball team. The school’s new men’s and women’s basketball teams, and new women’s volleyball team, will play in the new Student Success Center on campus that is scheduled to be completed in August. “People can’t wait,” said Britton, who played basketball at Monadnock High School and then at the University of Bridgeport, a Division II program. “They’re coming up to my office and expressing their interest. … The buzz is definitely exciting.”

The YSCC sponsors nine different sports. The other conference members for basketball are Southern Maine CC, N.H. Technical Institute, Hampshire (Mass.) College, Central Maine CC, Eastern Maine CC, Maine-Augusta, Maine-Machias, Unity (Maine), St. Joseph’s (Vt.) and Vermont Tech.

Last year, former Portsmouth High School standout Susie French was one of the league’s best players, averaging 19.2 points and 7.9 rebounds for Central Maine CC. She’s now playing as a junior at Division II Franklin Pierce University.

On the men’s side, the best team this season is Southern Maine CC, which is 17-1 and led by former Traip Academy standout Atencio Martin, who is averaging 13.7 points.

In August, construction of a $5 million Student Success Center was approved by Pease Development Authority. In addition to a gym with seating for 484, the center will also include a fitness center, student lounge, a canteen, conference rooms and offices, said Mike Fischer, the school’s associate VP of student affairs.

“Our hope is that this becomes a piece of the community, to connect to businesses on the Tradeport and do things like an after-hours rec. league, maybe some summer stuff with the local high schools,” he said. “The whole plan was to use this year to develop the infrastructure for when the building was built.”

Founded as the State Trade School of Portsmouth in 1945, the school’s early mission was vocational training, offering fields of study in machine tools, sheet metal, auto mechanics, electronics and refrigeration. The school moved to a location off Route 33 in Stratham in the 1980s and was renamed New Hampshire Technical College. It moved to its current location at the Pease Tradeport in 2009; many graduates of the two-year associate’s degree program move on to UNH and other four-year colleges.

Fischer said club-level basketball has been part of the school dating back to the 1980s, but it was difficult to maintain the program without an on-site facility. When the campus was located off Route 33 in Stratham, club teams had to travel to places like the Seacoast School of Technology or Portsmouth High School for practices and games.“It became very difficult for us to manage because we didn’t have a spot to practice and play games,” he said.

Britton, who was hired as Great Bay CC’s assistant director of student life in 2013, played four years of basketball at Bridgeport. As a sophomore, she was on a team that went 3-24. As a junior, playing for new coach Mark McCaleb, the Knights went 22-9 and reached the NCAA tournament, one of the biggest turnarounds in Division II history.

“He expected a lot from us on and off the court,” said Britton. “He made his expectations clear and he followed through. We had efficient practices and we could outrun anybody that we played.” Britton expects a large part of her inaugural team to be made up of players from local high schools, which is why she’s taking in games this winter and the school is reaching out to area athletic directors. “Essentially, right now, it’s all recruiting,” she said. “I need to get my team together.”

 Fisher said he expects a men’s coach to be officially named next month. The school’s teams will be nicknamed the Herons.

 In December, Great Bay CC was officially recognized by the U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association. “We are an association that celebrates the accomplishments of small colleges and their student athletes and Great Bay is the embodiment of what a USCAA member looks like,” said USCAA chief operating officer Matthew Simms in a statement. “We’re excited to have Great Bay and look forward to watching them develop.”

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