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Vanessa Blair-Lewis
Position: Head Coach
Hometown: Upper Marlboro, Md.
Alma Mater: Mount St. Mary's
Graduating Year: 1992
Experience: 5 Years
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Vanessa Blair-Lewis Biography
Release: 07/16/2008

Vanessa Blair-Lewis begins her seventh season at the helm as Head Coach of the Bethune-Cookman University women's basketball team, looking to capitalize on last season’s momentum with a young, but experienced squad in 2014-15. Blair-Lewis has utilized her success as both a player and coach in bringing a new attitude and approach to the Lady Wildcats program, building up the program and creating a reputation for B-CU as a tenacious and methodically-coached opponent.

The tail end of the 2013-14 season was very eventful for Coach Blair-Lewis, who celebrated the birth of her first child in late January, and then guided her Lady Wildcats to a late-season run that provided wins in five of the final seven regular season contests. In addition, B-CU registered its first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Tournament victory since the 2010 season.

Defeating adversity has been an underlying theme in recent seasons for the Lady Wildcats, and under Blair-Lewis’ leadership, B-CU has risen to the challenge, building up a team that has earned at least 10 victories in each of the last four years.

Last season, the team’s successes were driven by a pair of players on opposite ends of the spectrum, with outstanding years for senior guard Chastity René Taylor and redshirt freshman center Kailyn Williams. Taylor wrapped up a stalwart two-year career scoring in double figures 24 times, including nine games over 20 points, landing in third on the B-CU Career 3-Pointer leaders list. Williams, on the other hand, made her presence known in the paint, moving to third on the Career Blocks list with a 96-rejection rookie campaign, earning her place on the All-MEAC Third Team and MEAC All-Rookie Team.

Taylor and Williams are just the latest examples of Blair-Lewis’ recruiting and development prowess, as 2011-12 senior guard Demetria Frank finished atop the NCAA standings and B-CU program rankings as the national steals leader (4.3 SPG in 2011-12 and 422 career steals).

Blair-Lewis had a breakout year at B-CU in 2009-10, her second season, and was named MEAC Coach of the Year after leading B-CU to a 15-14 mark (including a 9-7 league record and 8-1 at home), which represented both the Lady Wildcats' first winning campaign in eight seasons and highest win total since 1998. The turnaround was of little surprise, given her history. In her stop at Mount St. Mary's before B-CU, Blair-Lewis earned Northeast Conference (NEC) Coach of the Year in her debut season. Familiar territory for Blair-Lewis; she earned NEC Player of the Year twice as a post player at MSM.

In 2011, Blair-Lewis was one of 28 coaches from across the nation selected by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association to participate in the inaugural session of The Center for Coaching Excellence (CCE).

In her tenure leading the Lady Wildcats, Blair-Lewis has collected a record of 76-102 (40-56 in MEAC), with a career mark of 196-237 through 16 seasons.

"Vanessa Blair represents the total package," said B-CU Athletic Director Lynn W. Thompson at her appointment, "She is a former outstanding student-athlete, professional player and highly-experienced Division I coach from a private, church-related university. We expect her to flourish in leading our program with these great qualities."

With over a decade of playing and coaching in the NEC at Mount St. Mary’s, Blair emerged as one of the most notable figures in NEC women's basketball history. Blair led The Mount to a 21-7 record and NEC regular season championship in her inaugural season in 1997-98, and the subsequent Coach of the Year honor made her the first and still the only person named both Player of the Year and Coach of the Year.

The awards continued later that year as she was one of three Mountaineers to make the six-member NEC Team of the Decade and eventually Player of the Decade. In 2003, Mount St. Mary's honored her again by inducting her into the Mount's Sports Hall of Fame. Blair was also named to the Mount St. Mary's women's basketball "30th Anniversary Team" on Feb. 19, 2005.

In addition, Blair-Lewis was inducted into the NEC Hall of Fame on January 24, 2013, making it official that she's now garnered every conceivable honor from the conference through her performances as a player and coach.

During her nine years as a head coach in the NEC, Blair moved up the conference record charts much like she did as a player. She ranks eighth for career conference regular season wins by a head coach; the third most among head coach in the league (87), and a .596 overall conference winning percentage.

In a 77-59 win against Morgan State on Dec. 30, 2005, she picked up her 100th career victory and is quickly approaching her 200th. Blair-Lewis has coached numerous players to conference recognition; most recently two Lady Wildcats named All-MEAC Second Team, one to the All-MEAC Third Team, another on the All-Tournament Team, and two others on the MEAC All-Rookie Team. Additional she coached two NEC Players of the Year, two NEC Defensive Players of the Year, an NEC Rookie of the Year, four All-NEC First Team selections and three All-NEC Second Team selections. She played with or coached 17 of the program's 25 1,000-point scorers, while also recruiting 2012-14 B-CU Graduate Assistant Mary Dunn (1,191).

As a player, the former Vanessa Blair set the school's game, season and career records in blocked shots. She ranks seventh all-time in scoring (1,488), third in rebounds (849) and rebounds per game (8.9), is second in free throws attempted in a season (588) and holds the records for blocked shots (242). She currently is the only Mountaineer to hold triple digit career marks in five different categories. She was named NEC Player of the Year in 1991 and 1992.

After college, Blair-Lewis played two years of professional basketball in Sweden. Blair-Lewis played on the Pro Basketball Club, a first division team based in the city of Orebro, before a knee injury cut her career short. She returned home to the United States, where she assisted her father at Largo (Md.) High School and coached at the AAU youth level. Blair-Lewis returned to her alma mater as an assistant in 1996.

Blair-Lewis’ vast knowledge of the game and determination to develop programs that excel both on the court and in the classroom is seen in awards both athletically and academically for her teams at both institutions. Recently she has had several Lady Wildcats named to the MEAC All-Academic Commissioner's Team each year, and in the 2001-02 season, the Mount women's basketball team was named one of the top-25 schools for academic excellence by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, earning 16th place for Division I schools.

Blair-Lewis’ understanding of the game and experience have carried over to the broadcast field. She has served as the color analyst alongside Mike Johnson on radio coverage of the Bethune-Cookman University men's team from 2010-11 to 2012-13, making her one of the few collegiate coaches to hold both duties during the course of the regular season. She will resume her analyst duties again in the 2014-15 season.

Vanessa Blair was married to Eric Lewis during the summer of 2013. The couple welcomed their first child, Blair Eric Lewis, on January 27.

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