Betsy Witman enters her 18th season at the helm of the Spartan women’s basketball team and the program has never been better. The Spartans are coming off another Capital Athletic Conference championship and NCAA Tournament appearance as the Spartans went 26-3 including a conference-best 14-2 in the CAC.
Witman took over her current post on August 1, 1997. The 2008-2009 Spartans had the greatest season in school history as they won 27 games, earned an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament, advanced to the Sweet 16, won a school-record 25 straight games, and went a perfect 16-0 in the Capital Athletic Conference regular season. For her efforts, Witman was named the CAC Coach-of-the-Year and also earned WBCA Regional Coach-of-the-Year.
The Spartans got Witman her first Capital Athletic Conference Tournament championship in 2011 as the Spartans made a run through the conference tournament, culminating with a 70-66 win over Wesley College in the tournament championship game. That earned the Spartans their second NCAA Tournament appearance in the last three years. It also earned Witman her third CAC Coach-of-the-Year award. She earned her other two CAC Coach-of-the-Year awards in 2002 and 2009. Witman begins the season with a mark of 145-81 in Capital Athletic Conference action over the last 15 seasons. York has reached double figures in conference wins six times.
The 2011-12 season started with great promise and the Spartans didn't disappoint as the Green and White went 24-6, spent most of the season in the regional rankings, advanced to the CAC championship game and earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the previous four years. The Spartans went 14-2 in the CAC with their only two losses coming to nationally ranked Mary Washington. In fact, all six of York's losses on the year came to nationally ranked squads. The Spartans placed a Capital Athletic Conference record four players on the All-CAC team. Senior April Sparkman earned All-American honors for the Spartans, the third Spartan earn the prestigious honor under Witman's guidance.
The 2012-13 season was bittersweet for the Green and White as York roared out of the gate with an 11-0 start and a national ranking of 11th. The Spartans would drop their next three straight before bouncing back to finish third in the CAC and advancing to the CAC semifinals where they were edged by Mary Washington, denying York a third straight trip to the conference finals. Junior forward Brittany Hicks became York's fourth national All-American and was joined on the All-CAC squad by Kristen Haley and Aja Wallpher.
The 2013-14 season capped the most successful four year run in school history. The Spartans captured the regular season CAC championship and won their second CAC Tournament championship. The Green and White made their fourth NCAA Touranment appearance. The Spartan senior class of Hicks, Haley, Wallpher and Kelsey Murphy combined to go 86-29 during their four year careers. Hicks earned All-American honors for the second straight season as she becomes York's first two-time All-American. Witman earned her fourth CAC Coach of the Year award while Hicks, Haley and Wallpher earned All-CAC accolades.
Witman posted her 100th career win on February 9, 2004, in a 68-64 win over Elizabethtown. She captured her 150th career win on November 20, 2007, against Goucher. Witman crossed the 200-career win milestone on January 13, 2010 with the 67-64 win at Salisbury. Win number 250 came in the NCAA Tournament victory at Juniata on March 3, 2012. Witman enters the 2014-15 campaign with a career mark of 290-171, good for a winning percentage of 62.9%.
She has recruited and coached three CAC Player-of-the-Year award winners (Heather Kessler in 2004, Keli Ward in 2009, and Brittany Hicks in 2014) and four CAC Rookie-of-the-Year selections (Amy Anderson in 1997, Kristen Daly in 2005, Keli Ward in 2006, and Kristen Haley in 2011). Witman has also had 15 different players earn a combined 34 All-CAC awards. Witman has coached 11 of the Spartans' 14 1,000-career point scorers including Haley and Hicks who joined the club in 2012-13.
Witman came to York after four seasons of serving as the women’s assistant coach at Millersville University. The Marauders won 57 games during Witman’s tenure at Millersville including a 17-9 season in 1996-97. In addition to coaching at Millersville, Witman has also served as an assistant at the University of Delaware.
Witman is not a stranger to York County basketball. She was born and raised in Hanover before traveling to James Madison University where she was a 1,000 point scorer for two Sweet 16 teams. She earned her undergraduate degree in Physical Education/Sport Management from JMU and her master’s degree in Physical Education/Sports Medicine from the University of Delaware. She was named one of the best five high school players in York County over the last 40 years by the York Dispatch. She is also a member of the Hanover High School Athletic Hall of Fame and recently received the Hanover Alumni Career Achievement Award.
“I am happy with the direction of our program,” says Witman. “I think we have built the program up to where it is a very attractive option for talented student-athletes. I want us to build on the success of the last five years and continue to maintain our status as one of the top programs in the region and the nation. The Grumbacher Center is one of the finest facilities in the east coast if not the nation.”
“With our outstanding academic reputation and reputable athletic program, I am confident in our team’s ability to continue to make York College very proud. We have a great group of kids who work hard and possess the talent to make this a very special program,” says Witman.
The Spartans continue to be outstanding academically. After being ranked number one in the nation for team GPA in 2005, the Spartans finished second in 2006 and runner-up again in 2008.