Associate head coach Shaina Afoa was named the NCAA DII National Assistant Coach of the Year. The award was decided by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.
Afoa was thankful for her award, but insisted that she can’t take all the credit.
“I was very honored and proud. I love that it gives a little more recognition to Alaska,” Afoa said, “I am also the product of great coaches throughout my life and feel that they all have a part in this and can take ownership in the award as well.”
Afoa is a native of Alaska and, being a product of Anchorage athletics, her goal was to coach at UAA.
She spent her teenage years at Dimond High School, competing in four different sports and then continued in college to again be a multi-sport athlete.
Remaining in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, Afoa competed at UAA rival Central Washington from 2006-11. In addition to playing basketball, she also competed in track & field and volleyball.
For three of those years, Afoa was a starter at center, which lead her to finish as No. 2 on the CWU’s career list for blocks with 126, fourth in rebounds (599), sixth in games started (79) and 10th in field-goal percentage (.461).
Afoa said that sports was all she ever knew, she loved being a part of athletics and knew that’s what she wanted to do with her life.
“During college and my first year after I helped coach with my dad at Dimond High School with his JV volleyball team. My dad is an unbelievable coach and I fell in love with while working with him. He was my biggest influence,” Afoa said.
Afoa has seen plenty of success with the Seawolves. Last year, in the 2016-17 season, she helped UAA attain a record-breaking team that only lost two games of the 32 they played in. Afoa also contributed to the undefeated conference status of the Seawolves during that same season.
Afoa’s success did not go unnoticed. She was named to the Thirty Under 30 list of up-and-coming coaches, also decided by the WBCA.
“Shaina [Afoa] is extraordinarily deserving of this honor. She has an incredible rapport with our student-athletes and is extremely skilled in post player development,” UAA head coach Ryan McCarthy, said.
Afoa’s accomplishments at UAA seem to be never ending. In her total time at UAA, she has helped the Seawolves to the impressive 160-31 overall record, resulting in a 83.7 percent win average.
Conference accomplishments include four straight GNAC regular-season and tournament titles. Her national accomplishments were five straight NCAA Tournament berths and a spot in the 2016 NCAA DII National Title Game.
The national accomplishment is one Afoa is most proud of.
“It is by far the best experience I have ever had, player or coach,” Afoa said.
The success Afoa brought to previous seasons only continued with the recently finished 2017-18 season.
Afoa helped the Seawolves to a 27-5 overall record, despite a dramatically altered roster from the previous season. She lost seven players, four of which were starters, but still managed to help the team to a fourth GNAC regular-season title.
Despite all the success, Afoa said it hasn’t always been as successful and easy as she makes it look.
“Starting out you don’t realize how much of coaching is not basketball. I had the blessing of having my sister, [Sierra Afoa] on the team, and it was hard for me to figure out the balance of sister and coach. We worked it out, but definitely had some hard times,” Afoa said.
Regardless of the struggles that she has encountered, Afoa and her team continue to learn every year. Afoa will be returning for the 2018-19 academic year for her seventh season of coaching.