Amber Whiting made her first comments on Friday, with AD Tom Holmoe
Amber Whiting kept being told she should put her hat in the ring to be the next coach for the women’s basketball program.
She was busy as usual at a recent basketball tournament, and the idea kept popping into her brain. She saw former BYU assistant coach Chris Burgess at the tournament and talked to him about it.
But it was a conversation with her husband, Trent, that provided the final boost. He told her that she so often put her family first, and that maybe this was a time in her life when she was betting on herself to change.
This was the start of the process that ultimately led to her becoming BYU’s new women’s basketball coach. She and athletic director Tom Holmoe spoke to the media on Friday for the first time since her hiring announcement.
“I’m so excited for this and I was just grateful that they looked at me for who I was and trusted me because it’s a huge, huge business and I’m just excited to having the opportunity to get it and get in the gym with the girls and start going,” Whiting said.
Whiting brings no college coaching experience, but coached at the AAU level for 10 years and just led Burley High School in Idaho to a state title. She coaches her daughter, Amari, who is a four-star recruit and No. 32 among ESPN ranking of the best female basketball players who will graduate from high school in 2023.
Whiting said seeing her husband’s preparation as a professional player in Italy is part of what gives her the confidence she’s ready to lead a college program. She watched a movie with him, read scout reports, pored over set after set.
“Basketball is basketball,” Whiting said. “And yes, it’s a different level. Yes, it is a higher level. But I am delighted with this opportunity to be able to train better players.
Holmoe was quick to address Whiting’s lack of college experience and said what set her apart was having “by far the best overall plan of the applicants.” He added that being a college coach currently means having attributes that go beyond what happens on the pitch.
Holmoe said some candidates for the job have more coaching experience than Whiting.
“But if you look at all the attributes that I think are essential to this game, she might tick all the boxes,” Holmoe said. “So where there could have been a candidate [whose] the experience was here and Amber’s might have been below that, that other person’s experience might have been below her in a number of other areas.
Holmoe mentioned some former BYU track coaches who only had high school experience and ended up in the college hall of fame — Patrick Shane and Craig Pool. But overall, he said the time was right with Whiting.
“I might not have done this a week from tomorrow or last month,” Holmoe said. “But she came into this situation at the perfect time. There is something to that. This feeling was right.
Holmoe also said he didn’t start the search process with a firm decision to hire a woman. It turned out so.
“We hired the best coach, and it just happens to be a woman,” Holmoe said.
One of the questions surrounding Whiting’s hiring was what would happen with his daughter, who is verbally a committee member to play at Oregon. An Idaho sportswriter tweeted Thursday that she had spoken with Whiting, who told her that “in a perfect world, Amari would like to stay for her senior year at Burley.”
But on Friday, Whiting sounded like the whole family was looking to move to Provo. His son, Jace, will play basketball at Boise State. Her daughter will graduate next year.
“We have to do it as a family,” Whiting said.
“We need to figure out what fit will be best for her in or around Provo so she feels good. But we realize that as a family, I think it will be the best thing for us.
On her staff, Whiting said she was building it. When asked if any of Judkins’ assistants would be retained, she did not answer specifically, but said, “I spoke to all of them.” She added that all assistants have chosen to go on a recruitment trip this weekend.
Whiting looks ready to go with the Cougars. She said she had already scheduled one-on-one meetings with the current players and needed to “recruit” them. She has also described herself as a defense-focused coach.
BYU finished in the Associated Press Top 25 last season. He won tons of games under Jeff Judkins. The track and field program will enter the Big 12 in about a year. It’s a big job, but Whiting wants to do it.
“I feel like every great coach has the opportunity to start somewhere, right? And this one is mine,” Whiting said. “So I just want to give it my all. have.”