Jeffrey Newhall knows the hard work, dedication, and commitment it takes to reach the top of the coaching profession.
Newhall led the St. Mary’s High School girls basketball team to a state title in March, the program’s third under his leadership as head coach.
So when Barbara Stevens, coach of the Bentley University women’s basketball team, was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame earlier this month, Newhall immediately reached out to her to extend his congratulations on the esteemed recognition.
For Newhall and Stevens share a connection beyond winning championships and inspiring basketball players on and off the court.
Newhall (Class of 1997) and Stevens (Class of 1976) are proud alumni of Bridgewater State University. Newhall was a graduate assistant baseball coach at Bridgewater. Stevens played college basketball at BSU.
“Coach Stevens is at the top of her profession and those of us in New England are well aware of that,” said Newhall. “Her election to the Hall of Fame validates that the universal basketball community sees that as well.”
Some of Newhall’s former St. Mary’s stars, including Tori Faieta (Stonehill), Cassi Amenta (Merrimack), Ann Marie Idusuyi (Assumption), and Temi Falayi (Assumption), competed against Stevens-led Bentley teams in the Northeast-10 Conference.
Lynn resident Julie Halloran, a former Division 1 college basketball player at Northeastern University, has been a mentor to Newhall and gave him his start as an assistant coach when she was the head coach at Swampscott High School. Halloran also served as the head coach at Saugus High and an assistant at Harvard. One of Halloran’s former players at Swampscott, Susan Bufalino, made the Bentley team as a walk-on and ended up working as an assistant coach there.
Like Stevens, Halloran was a pioneer in women’s college basketball and inspired some of her former players, such as Swampscott High coach Katelyn Leonard, to give back to the game. Julie’s husband, Paul Halloran, is a college basketball referee and assigns officials for high school games.
Said Julie Halloran, “Barbara Stevens represents everything that is good about basketball in general and especially women’s basketball. She is obviously a great teacher of the game, but, more important, an outstanding role model for her players and everyone in the sport. It is so gratifying to see her get this recognition.”
Stevens’ induction is being heralded in Winthrop by two of its most successful athletes. Former Winthrop High School football coach Bob DeFelice is the director of athletics at Bentley University where the baseball field is named in his honor. DeFelice has been instrumental in the advancement of women’s college sports and the building of new state-of-the-art athletic facilities on the Bentley campus. Former Winthrop High All-Scholastic Courtney Finn was an All-American player on Bentley’s 2014 NCAA Division 2 national championship team that went 35-0.
Stevens, who has a career coaching record of 1,058-291, will be inducted in to the Hall of Fame Aug. 29 in Springfield. The 2020 Hall of Fame class also includes NBA legends Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, and Tim Duncan, former NBA player and coach Rudy Tomjanovich, long-time NCAA men’s coach Eddie Sutton, and Baylor women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey,
“I am so honored, so humbled to be included in this unbelievable class of inductees into the Hall of Fame,” said Stevens. “This is something that is overwhelming. The incredible emotions that I felt after receiving the call from the Hall of Fame, I can’t even put into words.”