COSTA MESA -- After an extensive search, Orange Coast College and the Coast Community College District approved the hiring of Samantha Doucette as the college's new women's basketball coach.
"We are very excited to have Sammy join our coaching staff for all that she will bring to the athletics department and the women's basketball program," OCC Athletic Director Kehler said. "With Sammy taking the helm, I am sure she will continue the legacy that is OCC women's basketball and help bring the Pirates back to the top."
Doucette, 25, comes to OCC after one season as the head girls basketball coach at Costa Mesa HS, where she turned a fledging program that consisted of just six players into a 24-player squad that won the Orange Coast League (9-1) for the first time 2007 and helped guide the Mustangs to the quarterfinal round of the CIF playoffs. Doucette had six players from her CMHS squad earn all-league honors, including Orange Coast League MVP and All-CIF selection Katie Belmontes, who will be attending Cal State Northridge in the fall to play softball. Her ability to turn the Mustangs' program into an immediate success earned Doucette the L.A. Times/Daily Pilot Coach of the Year for 2018-19.
When asked about being the head coach at OCC at such a young age, Doucette had the perfect reply. "Didn't the youngest coach in the NFL just make it to the Super Bowl?" she asked with a smile. "Over the past few years I've picked up a lot of experience and I've been coached by great coaches, whom I learned a lot from. I like to think of myself as a relational coach ... someone who gets to know their players both on and off the court. I was an intense player and I'm the same as a coach. I'll lead by example and I will work hard for this program and expect the players on my team to do the same."
In addition to her year at CMHS, Doucette picked up valuable coaching experience as a graduate assistant at Concordia University, Irvine (2016-17) and as an assistant coach/recruiting coordinator at Hope International (2017-18). For the past three years, Doucette has also been a supervisor and head coach at Mamba Youth Sports in Newport Beach, working under the guidance of former Los Angeles Laker great, Kobe Bryant.
"Working with Kobe for three years has really been an incredible experience," Doucette said. "He is such a stickler for details and he really focuses on how important it is to specify those details in your game. Repetition is the key for him and it's really been so vital for me to have a guy like Kobe Bryant showing me the way.
"I also really enjoyed my time as an assistant at Concordia and at Hope International, where I learned so many different things. But, I also learned that I didn't want to be an assistant ... I wanted to be a head coach."
Doucette will look to revitalize a Pirate women's program that is looking forward to returning to the success it generated under longtime head coach Mike Thornton, who led OCC to 584 wins, three conference titles, one state championship (2003) and 23 playoff appearances in his 29-year career (1989-2018).
"I'm super excited to be here to not only help return this program to the winning culture it had in the past, but to help this program build and grow and make it a program that players from the past will be proud to call their own," Doucette said.
Prior to her coaching career, Doucette was a standout basketball player for legendary head coach and NAIA Hall of Famer, Russ Davis at Vanguard University. As a Lion, Doucette scored 1,593 points during her four seasons. She was named a three-time captain, a three-time NAIA All-American and All-Golden State Athletic Conference selection. In her four years with the program, the Lions went 99-21, made four NAIA National Tournament appearances, including a spot in the Elite Eight in 2014, and won the Golden State Athletic Conference that same season.
"Playing for Coach Davis really taught me a lot," Doucette said. "He showed me the bigger picture ... more than just basketball. I learned that when you play basketball, you represent your school and there's a bigger purpose to the game than just playing basketball."
Before Vanguard, Doucette was a standout player at Woodbridge, where she won a CIF Southern Section Division 3A title with the Warriors in 2009. She earned her bachelor's degree in business administration at Vanguard in 2016 before earning her master's degree in coaching and athletic administration at Concordia University, Irvine in 2018.