---- — HAVERHILL — Brent Bass, the recently appointed Northern Essex Community College women’s basketball coach, wants to make one thing clear — he is eagerly and enthusiastically recruiting both experienced and novice players.
Formerly the NECC assistant coach under Jim Gayton, who was not rehired, Bass assumed his new role in July. He has been putting on a full court press to attract players ever since.
“I’ve spent the summer trying to give the program more visibility,” said the Reading resident. “I want players to look at Northern Essex as a viable alternative financially, academically, and athletically. I am making myself available to students to talk about the school and the program. I want them to know what the college has to offer them on and off the court.”
A general practice attorney by day, the 39-year-old has been teaching and coaching basketball since 1998. A high school basketball player when he was growing up in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Bass never lost interest in the sport.
He was teaching basketball when he was pressed into service as a coach by a friend, Kevin Barboza, who operates the Bay State Blizzard basketball program. He went on to coach AAU teams for girls in grades 6 to 11 before taking on the role of assistant NECC coach.
Bass replaces Jim Gayton, who coached for three years with only limited success in a difficult situation. His first season, NECC was 0-15 as a club team. It went 3-14 in 2011-12 and only won a handful of games last year before the season ended prematurely because of a lack of players. A small roster has been a chronic problem.
“Several years ago I filled in coaching and found I really liked it,” said Bass. “I like being on the sidelines as much as I like the instructional piece. When the coaching position opened up I viewed it as the next step in my coaching development.”
Bass, who has taught both boys and girls, finds girls to be better listeners and more detail oriented.
“In general, they want to do well by their coaches and would run through a wall for you,” he said.
NECC women’s basketball has enjoyed a heady past, winning the NJCAA Division III regional title in 1994 and 2001 as well as the conference title in 1994, 2001, and 2002, before falling on hard times.
Bass naturally would like to see the team restored to its glory days, but that isn’t his primary goal.
“Don’t let my quiet disposition fool you,” he said. “My intensity is no less. I want to get the most out of my players as possible ... the most mentally, physically, and psychologically. I want to get them to embrace the work.”
He is hoping to see a variety of talent at his late September tryouts. Before then, he plans to host a “meet the coach” session. Bass realizes NECC student-athletes are sometimes balancing family and work in addition to academics and athletics.
“I’m willing to be creative and work with the players,” he says. “To do whatever is going to get us all together and working ... that’s what’s important.”
Following a 10-8 season in 2008-2009, the Northern Essex women’s basketball team has struggled.
2009-10 — No team (lack of players)
2010-11 — 0-15 as club team
2011-2012 — 3-14
2012-2013 — Didn’t finish season (lack of players)