Robyn Stewart has announced her resignation as Linfield College women’s basketball coach, according to director of athletics Scott Carnahan.
With the 2009-10 season scheduled to begin in mid-November, Carnahan also announced the appointment of former Linfield men’s basketball player and assistant coach Casey Kushiyama to replace Stewart on an interim basis.
“Given the lateness of the situation, it was necessary to move quickly to fill this position,” said Carnahan. “It was our good fortune to have Casey available and in the area. Casey’s experience and ability as a player and coach are known to us and it was a unanimous decision (to hire him) by those involved in the process.”
After 12 seasons as Wildcats head coach, Stewart is leaving Linfield to take a full-time position as a sales representative for Life Fitness and Hammer Strength. She’ll market exercise and fitness equipment to colleges, universities and high schools in the Washington/Idaho/Alaska territory.
“I’m going to miss the people and the relationships I’ve formed and the memories of the student-athletes who have bought into the system and the hard work that goes with it,” said Stewart. “I’m going to be able to support the program from a different angle.”
Stewart leaves as the winningest and longest-tenured women's basketball coach in Linfield history. Her career record stands 138-162.
During her first season at the helm in 1997-98, she guided Linfield to a winning season and a berth in the Northwest Conference playoffs. That year she was named NWC Coach of the Year, taking the Wildcats to only their second winning season in 10 years. In 1999-00, led by all-stars Kelly Bradstreet and Sarah Jensen, Linfield finished 17-9 and qualified for the NCAA Division III playoffs. The Wildcats were also NWC playoff qualifiers in 2006-07.
“Robyn’s most notable contribution was coming in an re-establishing the women’s basketball program,” said Carnahan. “She put Linfield in position to be competitive within the Northwest Conference. When she took over (in 1997), the program had very low participation and she was able to come in and establish us as a competitive member of the conference.
“She is a valued member of our coaching staff and very collegial in nature. Robyn is going to be missed by her student-athletes and colleagues alike.”
Kushiyama began his college career with the Linfield junior varsity and earned two varsity letters during 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons. After receiving the team’s most inspirational player award as a senior, he went on to serve three years as a Wildcats assistant men's coach under Larry Doty.
Most recently, he worked as a graduate assistant coach at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash., during which time he worked toward the completion of a master’s degree through Grand Canyon University.
Kushiyama inherits a team that suffered through a 3-22 season in 2008-09. Twelve of 13 players are expected to return this fall, including eight who were freshmen last year.
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