On April 17, Nyla Milleson was announced as the new women’s basketball coach to fill the vacancy left after the resignation of four year coach Jerri Porter.
Milleson comes to Fairfax after serving as the coach of Missouri State University’s women’s team for six years.
A key factor in the decision to hire Milleson was her strong win record.
She has a career record of 290-123 (.702) in 13 years as a collegiate head coach. Prior to MSU she was the inaugural coach of Drury University’s women’s team.
While at Drury University, Milleson posted a very strong 185-36 (.837) record, including six Heartland Conference titles and five post- season appearances in the NCAA division II tournament. In her final four years there, Drury had the highest winning percentage of all Division II programs in the nation.
Milleson’s track record of wins made her stand out early as a strong suitor for the position. Director of Athletics, Tom O’Connor spoke with Milleson in an interview before her selection and said at the press conference that he was impressed with her focus on the offcourt welfare of her players.
“I am here first for the student athletes themselves. I care about them as people, then I step in and be their coach,” Milleson said.
Coming with Milleson is her former assistant coach from MSU, Christopher Lewis. Prior to his last season at MSU, Lewis served as the recruiting coordinator for Morgan State University for four years.
“Staff is crucial and recruiting is a lifeline,” Millson said.
Milleson feels that she really is in the right place at the right time.
“There is just so much potential here for growth, the academics, the young campus and, of course, now being in the A10,” Milleson said.
The players were introduced to Milleson very shortly before the formal announcement at the Mason Inn.
“It is interesting, I don’t really know what to expect,” said junior guard Christine Weithman. “I think it was just nerves for a lot of us, but it’s exciting. She [Milleson] is very energetic and has a good personality that carries onto the court.”
O’Connor, Weithman and men’s basketball coach Paul Hewitt all feel that Milleson’s personality is going to be a big part of the new team dynamic that will be growing in Fairfax over these next few months.
I am here first for the student athletes themselves. I care about them as people, then I step in and be their coach.
Nyla Milleson, women’s basketball Coach
Hewitt went through a lot of the same things Milleson is experiencing now just two years ago with his introduction to Mason. He foresees himself and the rest of the athletic staff being very involved in helping Milleson adjust and start to grow at Mason.
“I definitely think things are looking good. Nyla has a lot of enthusiasm and strength, you hear it in her voice,” Hewitt said.
“It is very exciting. Everything is new: new coaches, a new conference, new ideas and new ways of doing things,” said President Ángel Cabrera on Milleson’s selection.
Milleson is coming to Mason after being released two years early from her contract at MSU. She and the entire coaching staff and the director of basketball were let go in March after a disappointing 14-17 record and a 58 percent drop in the number of season ticket holders.
However, her previous three seasons with the Lady Bears featured more than 20 wins and WNIT appearances.
“This team is hungry for success and ready to go, I feel like this is the right place to be at the right time,” Milleson said. “It is a new system with new teaching. It has its ups and downs but I have been successful everywhere I’ve been.”
Mason finished 9-21 overall and 4-14 in conference this past season only outperforming UNC Wilmington’s 3-15 in conference record.