After seven years of serving as an assistant coach with the Panthers, Bateast recently accepted the head coaching position at nearby St. Thomas University. For the Panthers, it brought mixed emotions on Bateast’s departure.
“It’s a catch 22 thing,” senior forward Arielle Durant said. “As I am happy for her, but at the same time, I am kind of sad.”
“It’s kind of bittersweet, I’m really happy for her because she is a really great coach and we all knew she would be a head coach eventually,” senior point guard Jerica Coley said. “When she got the job we were just excited for her because we know she will do great things there, but of course I am sad because she is leaving.”
Bateast was a standout at the University of Miami as a two time All-Big East third team selection, and was 11th in scoring all-time in the school’s women’s basketball program. She was key in the development of Coley. She helped mold Coley into a two-time All-American and two-time Sun Belt Conference player of the year and the nation’s leading scorer last season.
During Bateast’s tenure at FIU, along with Head Coach Cindy Russo, the Panthers amassed over 100 wins including 62 conference wins and 10 plus wins in the conference for the last three seasons.
Bateast had a hand in that success as she was regarded as the motivator on the team.
“She is very passionate and very knowledgeable of the game and always knew when push us to be our best,” Coley said.
“She was the motivator and the pusher on the team; especially in practice, she would push us to the limit to a level that we ourselves didn’t think we could make,” Durant said. “She would push us to be faster, to be quicker, to be better defenders and to be better scorers and to just be a better overall team.”
Bateast also made impacts to some of the players on how to be off the court as well.
“Personally, she was like my second mom; she was one of the major reasons I came here because we built a relationship just a recruit and a coach and she took me under my wing,” Durant said. “You will be a better person individually, you will come in as a young lady but you will come out as a young woman.”
With Bateast now at St. Thomas, according to Durant, it will be a tall task to find someone to replace Bateast on the sidelines.
“The things I will miss the most about her is her intensity,” Durant said. “ She was always upbeat, always loud. She wasn’t the quiet coach and was on top of you 24/7 and I don’t know who is coming in next but they will have huge shoes to fill.”
The fact that Bateast will be nearby will make it easier for the relationships that Durant and Coley built with the former assistant to be maintained. Coley and Durant plan to take full advantage that their former coach will be close by to stay in touch for future advice.