Mount Saint Joseph Academy named Claire Chapman Perry the new girls basketball coach Wednesday, May 4.
She attended a Mount game this past season and heard about the job opening and it matched up at the right time with where she was professionally.
“It seemed like the perfect opportunity,” Perry said. “Everything opened up at the right time.”
Perry graduated from the Mount in 2003 and, despite tearing her ACL as a junior, scored 1,000 points in her career. As a senior she helped lead the Magic to the state quarterfinals — the furthest a Mount team had ever gone at that time.
“It is with great pride and confidence that I welcome Claire Perry to join the Mount community as the head coach of the women’s basketball program,” Kathleen Brabson, SSJ, President of the Mount, said in a press release. “Claire is the first alumna in over 50 years to assume this position. The seeds of dedication and commitment were planted when she played, and now she will plant new seeds and cultivate a strong harvest of female athletes.”
“Claire was a 1,000-point scorer during her basketball career here, and she will usher in a new era of Mount basketball,” Athletic Director Janet Columbro added. “Her knowledge of the game and enthusiasm will be contagious.”
Perry went on to continue her education and basketball career at Cornell University. She earned All-Ivy League honors as a junior and was named a team captain as a senior before another ACL tear. She believes she still holds to Cornell and Ivy League record for free-throw percentage in a single season.
She hopes to instill that type of aggressiveness that leads to free throws in the players she coaches.
“I think that’s going to play a lot into my coaching philosophies,” she said. “You just have to play hard and get to the rim. There’s that stat out there that if you attempt more free throws than the other team makes, the percentages of your team winning are that much more, because you’re the one that’s being the aggressor and working hard.”
Perry shows just as much — if not more — interest in preparing the girls she coached for life rather than just basketball skills.
For the majority of her career, she has focused on using sports — primarily basketball — as a way to connect with local communities. She comes to the Mount from Up2Us Sports, a 501(c)3 comprised of 1,200 sports-based youth development members advancing sports as a solution to critical challenges facing American youth, such as violence and academic failure. In her role as senior regional manager for the Mid-Atlantic, she contracted trainings with youth development practitioners and initiated sports-related partnerships. Prior to that role, Perry was a program officer at Up2Us; she managed grant resources for sports-based youth development organizations.
“It’s not just about the sport,” Perry said. “It’s also about how you can develop the life skills in those participants or players that you’re the coach of.
“My philosophy just as a person and a coworker is that relationships matter … (Sports are) an incredibly opportunity to have those types of relationships with the kids that you’re coaching. In sports you can obviously learn the skills and how to master something, but also just understanding what that process was and how that process of mastering can apply to life.”
Perry also served for PeacePlayers International, a program that unites and educates young people in divided communities through basketball. She worked in Durban, South Africa, where she created basketball curricula for elementary and high school students, organized coach trainings and planned basketball life skills tournaments for girls.
At the Mount, Perry takes over a program that had a lot of success over the last 10 year under coach John Miller.
“I’m excited to hopefully continue what he’s set forth,” Perry said. “You couldn’t get any better than coach Miller. It’s going to be exciting and I’m excited to see what we can implement what he did use and work with him and the legacy he left and how we can continue that.”
At Cornell, Perry studied Applied Economics and Management with a concentration in the food industry and worked in that field for two years after graduation. She’s still fascinated by industries of wholesale food and loves store formats, lighting, pricing and things like that.
Before senior year of college, she had interned with Harlem RBI, an organization that uses baseball and softball for kids in Harlem to not only get better at the sport, but increase their literacy.
Since, she has continued the mission of using sports for good.