Zsakiyah “Ziggy” Brown, the new face of women’s basketball at Paul Smith’s College, joined the program in April as the new Bobcats head coach. She sat down with Sequel to talk about the sport and how she arrived at her new position.

What drew you into basketball, both as a player and now coach?
I used to collect basketball cards when I was about seven or eight and started playing. I’ll never forget that I snuck to a practice that my mom didn’t want me to go to. I made the team, but because I broke the rules, I didn’t get to play. I practiced non-stop and was always at the park after hours. I got in so much trouble. One of my favorite players then was Rebecca Lobo, a WNBA player at Liberty. When collecting cards and reading stats I learned more about WNBA players.

Not only did you play college basketball, but you also had stint playing overseas. Could you tell us more about your on-court career?
Second semester of freshman year at Concordia I spent traveling to different schools, and somehow, I found University of Maine at Fort Kent. I spoke to coach Lucas Levesque, and it was the furthest school on the map, but he and I decided I would come visit. It was history from then on. I told another coach that I wanted to play overseas, and since it was a small college, he didn’t think I would. When I was a fifth-year senior, I was looking for schools overseas and trying to figure out how I could end up on a team or on a scholarship somewhere out there. I ended up with two choices and picked Essex University in Colchester, England. There, I played in two different leagues, the Universities League and the International League.

How did you find yourself coming to Paul Smith’s College to coach?
I came back to the states and spent a year as the interim athletic director at Unity College. They moved me over to become an athletic student success coach, and during that time, I coached volleyball and won the YSCC conference championship. I was the assistant for women’s basketball for a year, and then the job position for Paul Smith’s College popped up on my desk. It was the dream job. I consulted with a few friends, put in my application and just hoped for the best.

What goals do you have in terms of team culture on and off the court?
I believe that on a team, everyone has a role, and if you play your role right, your team will succeed. I wholeheartedly believe in “student before athlete” and I want to encourage the players on our team to make sure education is first. Once they’re committed to their education, then we can move on toward working on winning championships.

Paul Smith’s College is publishing features from the Summer ’18 issue of Sequel. Stay tuned for more to come! Click here if you’d like to download a complete PDF of the magazine.