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Bloomfield College Announces New Women’s Basketball Coach

Vanessa Watson Bloomfield College

By Gladstone Harris and Alicia Cook

Bloomfield College has announced Vanessa Watson as new head women’s basketball coach at the College. A member of the Newark Athletic and New Jersey State Coaches Hall of Fames, Watson comes to Bloomfield College after a storied 31-year career at the helm of her alma mater, Malcolm X Shabazz High School in Newark, New Jersey. Watson retired from Shabazz in 2014 and then joined Delaware State University (DI) in 2015 as assistant coach. 

“It gives me great pride to welcome Vanessa Watson to the Bloomfield College Bears family as the new head coach of women’s basketball,” said Sheila Wooten, Director of Athletics at Bloomfield College. “Vanessa motivated the women on her teams to be better than they ever thought possible. She helped them develop as players, students, and people. Vanessa stood out among some outstanding candidates for the position, not just because of her championship record but also because of her successful experience as a teacher of the game and commitment to community service and academics. I could not be more excited for her to lead the Bears women’s basketball program back to championship heights.”

Watson, posting a .869 (720-109) overall record while at Shabazz High School, is one of the most prestigious coaches in the history of the state. Over her final two seasons, Watson's teams went 66-2, and Shabazz did not drop a single game against a New Jersey opponent. Her championship pedigree includes six New Jersey Tournaments of Championship titles, 10 state championships, 18 state sectional championships, 17 Essex County championships, and 16 conference crowns. She also sent several players to Division I programs, most notably Matee Ajavon (Rutgers), who is a nine-year WNBA veteran currently playing for the Atlanta Dream.

"It is such an exciting time in Bloomfield College athletics with Sheila at the helm," said Watson. "I look forward to working with her because I know she believes in doing things with integrity and the right way; I believe in the same things. I want to be a part of her continued vision of excellence and coming back to Essex County, Bloomfield feels like the right home for me.”

Notable accolades for Watson includes a New Jersey State Coach of the Year honor (2003), three Tri-State Coach of the Year awards (2003, 2004, 2013), Star-Ledger Coach of the Year recognition (2004), Northeast Regional Coach of the Year honoree (2004) and she garnered District Coach of the Year honors in 2006. 

“The cornerstone for the success I have experienced has always revolved around the players,” added Watson. “Knowing them as people and understanding their dreams and goals, both on and off the court, are very important to me. I truly believe the players who are here and those who have committed to Bloomfield for next season have the ability to propel us to great heights. They want to be that championship team that we talk about five years from now. I want to help make that happen for them and for Bloomfield College."

Watson has also operated the sidelines for numerous All-Star games, headlined by being selected for the 2015 Jordan Brand Classic All-American East squad. She has served as a coach for the USA Basketball 17 under and 18 under Trials Court squads. Watson participated with Nike during its Skills Academy and as a coach for its WBCA All-American Team.

Watson received her bachelor’s degree in Health & Physical Education from Virginia State University, where she was the starting point guard as a senior, and went on to win the 1980 Central intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Tournament Championship. 

Watson earned her master’s degree from the University of Phoenix in Educational Administration & Supervision in 2007.