Amy Backus
Position: Joel E. Smilow Class of 1954, Head Coach
Amy Backus begins her sixth season as head coach of the Bulldogs. In each of the previous five years the team has broken long-standing team records. Under Backus, Yale has been extremely successful from beyond the arc, finishing second in the Ivy League in three-point shooting last season and boasting three of the conference's top nine most accurate three-point shooters and led by Division I's fourth-most accurate. The Bulldogs also set a new team standard for blocked shots and featured the league's most accurate shooter. The Elis ranked 23rd in the country in three-point field goals made per game (6.7) in 2002-03. In 2001-2002, Backus guided the team to the most wins since the 1997 season. In addition to on-court accolades, the Yale women have proven to be stars in the classroom as well. Each year the Women's Basketball Coaches Association honors the top 25 team GPA's in the country. Yale has been on that list two of the past five years, the only Ivy League school to do so. Backus has initiated girls' basketball camps and clinics in the spring and summer to further the community outreach programs of the athletic department. Yale players are active in the New Haven community acting as mentors in local schools as well as serving as role models during clinics both on and off campus. On a national level, Backus participates every year as a clinician for the NCAA sponsored Youth Education through Sports (YES) at the women's Final Four. She is also on the WBCA Scholarship Award Committee. Backus' coaching philosophy incorporates the very best values from her background at highly academic institutions. She has a clear understanding and belief in the priority of academics in the lives of her student-athletes and is committed to preparing her players to compete at the highest levels of scholarship and citizenship both on and off the court. Backus served as an assistant to legendary coach Don Perrelli at Northwestern University in the highly competitive Big Ten conference before coming to Yale. The Wildcats enjoyed much success during Backus' four years. The 1996 team played in the finals of the Women's NIT and finished with a 23-11 record. In 1997, Northwestern earned an NCAA tournament bid with a 17-11 record, while the 1998 team reached the Preseason NIT Final Four. As head coach of Middlebury College in Vermont for seven years from 1987-94, her teams were 106-41, capturing the ECAC New England Division III Championship in the 1992-93 season and were ECAC runners-up in 1994. After the championship season in 1993, Backus was named NEWBA Coach of the Year. As the Panthers' head coach Backus was an active member of the New England Women's Basketball Association, serving as president in 1993. Prior to coaching at Middlebury, she served as an assistant at the University of Vermont, under current Boston College coach Cathy Inglese for one year. The Vermilion, Ohio, native also served as head coach of basketball and softball at Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio, from 1980-85. Her overall basketball head coaching record is 200-165. Backus played collegiately at Central Michigan University from 1975-79, becoming one of the first women to receive an athletic scholarship in the state of Michigan in basketball. While at Central Michigan, she held the single game scoring record as a junior and still is in the record book for the second most rebounds in a game at 19. As a senior, Backus was named team captain. She graduated cum laude from Central Michigan in 1979 with a B.S. in education. Backus spent a year as the graduate assistant coach at Central Michigan in 1979-80, and served as the head coach for the junior varsity team. She also holds a master's degree in administration and supervision from Loyola University in Chicago. In addition, Backus has a long history of success in competitive sailing. A past international, North American and national sailing champion, Backus has been racing competitively for 35 years. Among numerous other distinctions, Backus was part of an Olympic campaign in 1988 and as crew, helped her sister win the 1985 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, the most prestigious sailing award in the United States.