A new face will be joining the coaching staff of the Sonoma State men’s basketball team this year, and her name is Natalie Wisdom. Wisdom is a local Santa Rosa resident and SSU alum, and also the first ever woman assistant coach in the history of the 45-year program.
“Natalie is going to make us a better program,” said Head Coach Pat Fuscaldo. “She’s going to make us more rounded, healthier, a more cohesive program by what she can bring to the program. I want people who aren’t afraid to work to become a coach to pay their dues, and she’s paying her dues. To find someone who wants to put the time in to become better at their craft is getting harder to do today and I think that’s where Natalie will help to strengthen this program.”
Wisdom’s resume definitely backs her fellow coach’s faith, having graduated from Rincon Valley Christian High School in 2007 and lettering in three sports – basketball, soccer and cross-country. She then went on to suit up in a Bear Cubs basketball uniform for three respective seasons from 2007-2010. After redshirting her first season due to an injury, she captained the team the next two seasons and helped lead the SRJC bear Cubs to a State Tournament Final Four appearance in their 2009-2010 season. She also twice took home Academic All-Big 8 Conference honors.
Wisdom continued to remain an active member in the SRJC basketball program while receiving her bachelor’s in criminology and criminal justice studies in December 2012. She served as an assistant coach for the Bear Cubs – under another SSU alum Lacey Campbell – and both women led their team to four straight CCAA Elite Eight appearances and one State Championship for the 2010-2011 season.
SSU Director of Athletics Bill Fusco said of Wisdom: “I believe this is a great opportunity for Natalie and for Sonoma State University. Her passion and commitment to the game of basketball is unwavering. We are pleased to have her as part of our coaching staff.”
The announcement of the addition of Wisdom to the men’s basketball program may be a rarity seen in collegiate basketball – as well as the NBA – but the now male-female Seawolves coaching staff coincides with the hire of Becky Hammon to the San Antonio Spurs. Hammon is a former WNBA player and will be the first paid female assistant coach on the sidelines of an NBA game.
“[Wisdom] isn’t the first female assistant coach for a Division II men’s team,” said Tyler Lobe, sports information director of Intercollegiate Athletics . “But after posing a question to all Division II schools about female assistants for this upcoming year, I got no response, assuming that means she’s the only one thus far.”
Natalie Wisdom could not be reached for comment, but she sure is making history at Sonoma State and collegiate-level basketball in the United State as a whole. Since they barely missed the CCAA tournament last season, the Seawolves’ 2014-15 season beginning in November is sure to full of excitement under the coaching staff of Fuscaldo, associate head coach Rich Shayewitz, and the assistant coach Natalie Wisdom.