Every now and then, Stuart Welch will wake up, head to the bathroom, close the door behind him and look in the mirror. After a few moments, he asks himself, “Who is the best looking guy in this room right now?” The answer? Himself, of course.
Positive affirmation. It’s something Welch has used in his philosophy of coaching the Yuba College women’s basketball team for the last three seasons.
Growing up in Le Roy, New York, Welch wanted something vastly new once he graduated from college. He decided to move to California, where he would eventually reconnect with his love for basketball.
Once joining the Alameda Pro-Am Basketball Tour and having two unsuccessful attempts trying out for the Golden State Warriors, Welch was hired by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department as a deputy sheriff.
Though working in law enforcement, Welch still found time for basketball – coaching as an assistant at the high school and junior college levels. After a 12-year stint as a head coach at the high school level in Sacramento, Welch was hired on as the women’s basketball coach for the local 49ers.
“I never thought I’d be coaching women, but man, it’s been one of the most gratifying experiences I’ve ever had,” Welch said. “One of the people I’ve been most grateful for is my wife. She’s helped me out so much through my whole career and is like another mom for all my players.”
As a dad to five children, sometimes managing a holiday schedule in the thick of basketball season can be tough. But Welch holds close to him his faith and family.
“It’s tough because we’re on the road and traveling a lot so when I do get time with them I’m sure to make the most of that, even if it means sitting at the table playing board games instead of catching the Bills game on Thanksgiving Day,” Welch said.
Through it all there’s one aspect of his career that he’s most grateful for: connecting with his players to form lifelong relationships.
A lot of the times people don’t understand just what I would do for my players. Sure, they have their self-centered moments, but they’re 18 and 19 years old,” Welch said. “If I’m not going to stick my neck out for them, who is?”
As for his future? A Division 1 coaching job could be possible, but for right now he’s focused on leading his team and that’s a year-round job.
“I’m grateful for this team and everything they continue to do for each other, we’ve really come a long way since my first season here,” Welch said.