When he took over the reins of the Northwest College women’s basketball program from longtime coach Janis Beal last summer, Camden Levett knew he’d have one season to remove the interim tag from in front of his name.
In what amounted to a year-long job interview, Levett was able to do exactly that; he was hired on last week as the permanent head coach.
“Camden is a great fit for our coaching staff,” said NWC president Stefani Hicswa. “His energy and enthusiasm has brought a lot to our women’s basketball program this past year.”
The process wasn’t an easy one, as Levett was subjected to another round of interviews during the last few weeks, along with several other worthy candidates.
“It’s definitely a weight off my shoulders,” said Levett, who since the end of the season in March has been a fixture on the recruiting trail. “It’s good to finally be able to tell the recruits that we do have on board that the guy that sold them on NWC isn’t going anywhere.”
Levett said he approached his interim season with confidence, despite being brought in late and with little time to recruit. With only four sophomores returning from the season before, he had to convince players committed to Beal to stay while bringing in a player or two of his own.
“I never looked at myself as one-and-done,” he said. “I think that kind of helped me out as far as knowing what the process would entail moving forward. I’m glad that the hiring process this time around went smooth and quick. [Athletic Director] Brian Erickson had a great hiring committee, and it was good to have that year of experience. I’m glad it’s official, and I’m glad to be here.”
Erickson said Levett proved himself to be the kind of coach NWC was looking for to lead the program.
“I think Cam [Levett] showed this year just his resilience and his positivity and being able to keep on working, no matter what happens,” Erickson said. “He was very effective, not just with his players, but on our campus. He took over our social media campaigns with athletics and started growing those. There’s a lot of positives there.”
Erickson was also impressed with Levett’s handling of the lengthy hiring process.
“He’s really had to interview for this gig three times,” Erickson explained. “He interviewed for the interim position, then had what amounts to a working interview for an entire year. Then we make him go through it again. But his passion through the whole process was just remarkable. And he’s done a heck of a job recruiting; he’s signed some really talented girls. I think our women’s basketball program is going to be just fine.”
Levett’s first season was not without its challenges, as players who committed to Beal were unsure if they should take a chance on an interim coach with no head coaching experience.
“It was rough, but we were able to put a team together,” Levett said. “Some of the young ladies didn’t work out; one of them moved here on a Saturday and left that Monday. That had its challenges.”
The 2018-19 season could most aptly be described as a rebuild, as the Lady Trappers finished with a 4-26 record. That said, the team continued to improve as the season progressed, winning two of its last four games. Levett attributed that to the never-give-up attitude the girls played with all season.
“I’m glad with the girls that we put together and the returners we had,” he said. “They took pride in their academics and their athletics. We didn’t have the season that we’d hoped for, but we continued to work hard and improve. That’s only going to make us stronger for next year. Kids are coming back for year two of my style of play, and things are looking good.”
Levett’s squad was also active in the community over the season, working various basketball camps in the area, running a tournament in Cody and helping with reading programs at local elementary schools.
“We wanted to do as much as we could to help out in the community, and I think that reflected in the crowds that we had at our games,” Levett said. “We had a lot of support, which was great to see.”
Now that the position is his, Levett said he can turn his full attention to preparing for the 2019-20 season. A diligent recruiter since he arrived on campus, Levett’s excited for the players he’s been able to sign thus far, plus the players returning for a second season. Levett has six players coming back, including Lovell’s Mikkel McIntosh, Juliana Ribeiro, Tayler Groll, Melissa Martinez, Tess Henry and Jenna Lohrenz.
“I’ve been recruiting for next season since I got here, with the idea that I wanted to be here,” Levett said. “I put my best foot forward, so that really helped me out. We have four young ladies on board, so recruiting has been going good. I think the girls understand the direction the program is going in, and the returners we have coming back have been a huge piece in recruiting. They’ve really sold the program.”
Though it’s too early to verbalize expectations for next season, Levett did say that, having a full recruiting cycle to work with and a solid group coming back that’s bought in to his system, he expects the program to take some major strides.
“It starts right now,” Levett said. “We’re working hard with the girls here, plus putting together workouts for our future Trappers. We’re in the weight room, we’re doing open gyms. Things are looking good; they really are. I’m excited for the future here. I think this team has the opportunity to really be special.”