Sarah Van Buskirk
After being hired as the new women’s basketball head coach in July, Pomona-born-and-raised Anthony Mason is enthusiastic to be a mentor to the athletes at the University of La Verne.
“I am excited to be back in such a diverse population, helping such a diverse group of students,” Mason said. “I grew up in this area so I know the challenges kids face coming from this area.”
Mason believes team sports are a great avenue for students to keep them connected to their community, stay on track and gain opportunities that social mobility has to offer.
He believes basketball presents other possibilities for students who do not come from an area of opportunity whether it’s teamwork, networking, or passion to help students in their future.
With La Verne being ranked sixth in the nation for social mobility among private schools, Mason said he is grateful for the skills he learned to ensure post graduation opportunities and is thrilled to relay those liberties back onto the ULV students today.
Mason most recently coached at Vassar College, home of the Brewers, where he left his mark coaching many players to win All-Liberty League First Team selections, D3Hoops All-Region selections and a Women’s Basketball Coach Association Honorable Mention All-American.
Mason, alongside his staff, also earned Liberty League Coaching Staff of the Year for the 2021-22 season at Vassar College.
“He has a winning mentality, that’s for sure and I think that will spread throughout the team,” senior guard Brianna Torres said. “Especially having a new coach, we are not sure what to expect but he knows what he wants and that’s to win.”
Home was calling Mason’s name as the position for head coach opened up at ULV. He knew he had to jump on this opportunity that was best for his family. Mason said it was emotional leaving his team in New York but he knew they would understand and be grateful for the time they did have together.
Growing up with his mother coaching him on doing things well that require no talent such as being a good teammate or being first the rebound, Mason tips the hat to his mother for his coaching style.
Mason said that he likes to have a process-based approach to his coaching strategies for which he tries to bring out players’ confidence by being their cheerleader rather than instilling fear of punishment for not performing adequately.
“You celebrate the process no matter the result,” Mason said. “I think that helps someone be successful. When they do something right I want to be as loud as I possibly can.”
Prior to his achievements in New York, Mason coached at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Pepperdine, where he and his team gained spots in each institution’s conference tournaments, the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, West Coast Conference and the NCAA.
“Because (Mason) has so much experience he knows how to use players and put them where they will be most effective on the courts,” junior guard Dawson Bell said. “He knows what type of offenses and defenses that will be most effective for the style he wants to play.”
Mason started his coaching career for the Upland High School boys’ basketball team during his sophomore year at Cal State Long Beach.
The first male in his family to graduate from a four year university, Mason received his bachelor’s degree in 2008 in sociology. He earned his master’s degree in education in 2013 at Azusa Pacific University.
Upon graduation, Mason was a guidance counselor at Upland High School advising students through the highs and lows of teenhood. He loves to make connections with his students.
“I want to be somebody the students can talk to and ask for advice or talk about life to,” Mason said. “And basketball is a tool used to be a mentor. That’s the ultimate reason for being a coach – the people and the students.”
Senior forward Chiara Brown said her first impression of Mason was good. He seems open, talking about where he came from, his experience with basketball and his intentions for the upcoming season, Brown said.
“He really is a coach that wants to make an impact on and off the court,” Brown said. “He is implementing things like leadership councils that will help all the players on the team.”
Outside of the courts and classrooms, Mason loves spending time with his wife Hannah and his 2-year-old son Isaiah.
Hiking, attending concerts and being involved with his local church are some of Mason’s hobbies he enjoys doing in his free time.
Mason said that his goal for the upcoming season with the Leopards is to build on top of the success that they had last season. After going 24-3 overall and 15-1 in conference play, the women’s basketball team took charge in the SCIAC tournament but were one point short in the final game against Redlands back in February.
“The speed of basketball will be pretty similar but the execution of it will be different,” Mason said. “We have different styles than last year and we have a strong returning group that is excited about playing. So I think my job is to guide them and use their skills as best as possible to take them to the next step.”
Mason said he looks forward to winning the SCIAC championship title again but is ready to go the extra mile to win the NCAA tournament.
Sarah Van Buskirk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.