When Seton Keough basketball coach Jackie Boswell decided to take the head coaching job at Stevenson University, she knew that would be the easy part.
Telling her players? Telling her fellow coaches? Actually walking away? Not so easy.
“It was harder than I thought after being there for 14 years,” Boswell said Wednesday. “I feel like I have a good rapport with the faculty, and so it was really difficult. Last week, I met with my coaches on Wednesday night, and I’ve had some of those same coaches for the entire time I’ve been there. Telling the girls on Thursday was really rough. A couple of the basketball players took it so hard that I almost turned around and said: ‘You know what? I’ll just stay,’ but they all are really happy for me.”
Boswell led the Gators to a 21-9 season last winter in which they were runners up in the IAAM A Conference and ranked No. 3. Six seniors from that basketball team were graduating, so when she learned of the Stevenson opening, Boswell decided the timing was right.
She's looking forward to a new challenge at Stevenson, which finished last season 4-21 but has had success in the past, going 20-7 in 2005-06 with a trip to the ECAC Division III South championship and finishing 19-10 the following year.
"I'm looking forward seeing if I can take the program to the next level," Boswell said. "I've been saying for years I think this area is really good to try to find some Division III players. There's so much good basketball being played in the Baltimore and D.C. and Pennsylvania, Virginia area, I think it will be fun to try to go to the next level and coach a bunch of kids moving on to the next phase of their lives."
Boswell made sure the decision was okay with the three most important girls in her life, daughters Kayla, 11; Elayna, 9; and Tessa, 7. They have been fixtures around the Seton Keough gym their whole lives, so it will be hard for them to leave, too.
The Mustangs' job, which she starts July 7, also will require more time during the summer. While getting her program going, Boswell expects to have to commit about the same amount of time as she did at Seton Keough, where she was also the athletic director and softball coach.
She said her daughters -- and her husband -- are used to her work schedule.
"For the past 10 years, I've worked such crazy hours and they've really grown up [at Seton Keough]. They don't know any other way really, and I hope that what I'm showing them -- especially having three daughters -- is that you really can do everything. I think it takes a huge supporting cast, and they're very supportive on their end and I do talk to them all the time about the things that they sacrifice, but it's really important, I think, for our family dynamic. That's what makes our family work."
Boswell has made it a priority to take one of the girls on every basketball trip she has taken while coaching or working camps.
"I've tried really hard over the past 10 years to include them in on everything that I can. As many trips as we go on -- like Seton Keough has gone to Texas -- I've taken one kid with me, so I can have some one-on-one time with that child and they feel like it's special. When I used to coach AAU, they would just rotate. I'm in Florida right now, getting ready to work the Florida camp [Thursday], and my middle daughter's with me."
Boswell said Seton Keough officials would interview prospective athletic director candidates next month, and, if they don't find someone who can also coach the basketball team, they will look for a separate basketball coach after that. She said she believes her assistant softball coach, Chris Snee, will take over the softball team and remain the JV basketball coach.
An exceptionally successful two-sport coach, Boswell was the All-Metro Basketball Coach of the Year in 2009 and the All-Metro Softball Coach of the Year in 2003. She led her teams to three IAAM A Conference crowns -- one in basketball and two in softball.
A graduate of Archbishop Spalding and Virginia Wesleyan, she played basketball and softball at both. At Seton Keough, she assisted Jim Stromberg for several years before taking over the head basketball coach position in 2000 when he moved on to St. Paul's.
The Gators, one of the area's top girls basketball programs long before Boswell arrived, remained among the area's best throughout her tenure. She took them to six A Conference finals and, in 2009, won that title as well as championships at the Bishop Walsh Girls Invitational Tournament and the ESPN Rise National Invitational. The Gators finished that season No. 1 in The Sun and No. 12 in the ESPN Rise poll.