Cetera Washington’s homecoming may not be a trending topic on Twitter orreceive constant broadcast coverage or get a spread in the pages of Sports Illustrated.
But the former Michigan State and Loy Norrix High basketball standout could not be more excited to join the coaching staff of her hometown Western Michigan Broncos.
“To be able to come back home and come back to the city that supported me throughout my entire career from elementary school to middle school to high school is awesome,” Washington said.
Prior to her June 16 hiring at Western Michigan, Cetera spent time as a graduate assistant with the Spartans and an assistant coach at Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y.
Washington said she considers Merchant and Clipfell to be mentors. She said she draws much of her coaching strategy from the defensive-minded Merchant, but is looking forward to learning offensive and analytic elements from Clipfell.
“Coach Shane was always that relaxed guy that would crack jokes and he was always the x’s-and-o’s guy, so I really wanted to pick his brain as far as how he did things,” Washington said.
Washington saw time both as a starter and bench player during her career at Michigan State and said she approached each role with the same work ethic.
“It didn’t show up on the stat sheet, but the coaches knew I was doing something out there that had an effect on the game,” Washington said. “I think just that aspect of it, just working hard, continuing to work hard and know that your presence is felt is something I took away from Michigan State.”
Washington’s work ethic and ability to adapt are her most admirable qualities, according to Clipfell, which he believes will be strong assets for the Broncos.
“(Cetera) was a kid that just brought her lunch bucket to work every day,” Clipfell said. “I mean, she never missed a thing. I don’t think in four years she ever missed a practice, was never late for anything. I think the most important thing with her was that she played so many different roles for Michigan State over her four-year career that she proved that she’s very adaptable.”
Washington, a three-time Spartan Hustle award winner for Michigan State women’s basketball, will assist with recruiting, player skill development and defensive responsibilities for the Broncos.
Washington will be busy fulfilling her duties as an assistant coach over the next few months, but said there is a sense of relief in knowing her support system is close.
“I always had a great support system and I’m from a family of nine, four brothers, four sisters, so we’re pretty tight,” Washington said. “I still keep in contact with my fourth grade teacher, my seventh grade teachers, my high school teachers, everyone that I know here. They’ve been on my bandwagon ever since I was a little kid. To come back and have them supporting, (maybe) get them to go out to the games, it’s gonna be pretty awesome.”
Clipfell could not be happier for Washington and her return to Kalamazoo.
“An invite to come back home and all that made me smile,” he said. “I’ve actually been smiling ever since.”
Alex Tekip is a multimedia reporter for Impact Sports.
Photo: Nubia Buckingham/Impact Sports