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Rams lose Blose to Division I

April 05, 2002|BY BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Even in the midst of change, everything is seemingly staying the same for Betsy Blose.

Blose announced her resignation as Shepherd College's women's basketball coach on Thursday to accept a similar job at North Carolina-Asheville for the same reasons that brought her to Shepherdstown seven years ago. Shepherd immediately filled the job by promoting assistant Jodie Runner to head coach.

"They want to turn things around," Blose said. "They have a new administration and they want to get the athletic department going. It's going to be a process ... but I've done it before. Maybe this time I'll do it better."

Back in 1995, Blose came to Shepherd after spending eight years as an assistant at James Madison to take on the task of rejuvenating a Rams program that hadn't finished above .500 for six seasons. She leaves seven years later with a 114-77 record, including the 1999 West Virginia Conference regular-season title, and the same notions in mind for Asheville.

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"I want to win championships, ultimately, down the road," Blose said. "Right now, we need to build morale and confidence and to teach self esteem. We are going to be a work in progress."

UNC-Asheville, a Division I program in the Big South Conference, was 1-27 last year and hasn't enjoyed winning season in 16 years. Asheville has only won 28 games in the last five years. Blose said she plans to use Asheville's 1983-84 NAIA national championship as the foundation of tradition to build her program.

Shepherd officials knew Blose had been shopping for Division I jobs for the last few years, but losing the most successful coach in the program's history hit hard.

"We are sorry to see Betsy leave, but we wish her well and are excited for her," said athletic director Monte Cater at Thursday's press conference. "I also don't think there is anybody that deserves this job more than Jodie. She will do a great job."

Blose, who originally interviewed with Asheville on March 18, officially accepted the position at last weekend's Women's Final Four in San Antonio. She was called in for a second interview after a 10-day wait.

"It just felt really good," Blose said. "I've interviewed for jobs the past couple of summers, but there was something about Asheville that intrigued me. I loved Asheville, the city and it's a great school. It all matched up. I'll never forget the Hyatt on the Riverwalk in San Antonio. That's going to be a special place because that is where I got hired."

Blose will officially be introduced at UNC-Asheville next week.

Blose said she told the Rams players that she would be leaving as the start of an emotional end to her tenure.

"It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do," she said. "I love the players, even though we have bumped heads a few times. We had a great run. It wasn't a tough decision to make, but it was tough to say goodbye."

Blose, along with Runner, rebuilt Shepherd into a perennial contender in a mammoth 14-team conference faced with endless travel because of the school being the eastern most member of the WVIAC. The closest trip is Fairmont State, which is 3 1/2 hours away.

Those are all factors Runner inherits after spending the last six years as Blose's top assistant. Shepherd was 93-48 under the Blose-Runner contingent.

"I am honored that I was offered the position and I am thrilled to accept it," Runner said. "I'm very excited to take over the program and I am ready to get started."

Blose said she and Runner met in the head coach's office and decided to enter Thursday's press conference together. There was some time for emotion, but eventually it was time to get on with the future.

"It was very emotional today," Blose said. "Change is so weird. We looked at each other and said, 'This is really happening.' Shepherd is a great institution and I've worked with some great players and people. These have been some of the best years of my life."

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