Leyden shoots a career milestone

Courtesy of Suffolk Athletics

Courtesy of Suffolk Athletics

Dating back to 1994, Suffolk University Women’s Basketball head coach, Ed Leyden, has completely flipped the script on what was once a fraction of the program it is today.

His most recent accomplishment is undoubtedly his finest moment. Leyden acquired his 400th career victory with the school in a 69-41 victory over Pine Manor College on Jan. 31, much to his own shock.

“It was all a surprise to me,” said Leyden in a recent interview with The Suffolk Journal. “All of a sudden, I had people texting me congratulations. I had no idea what they were talking about.”

Leyden first became involved with basketball back when he was a resident of Everett, where he spent his high school years at Boston College High. He played both baseball and basketball, but did not continue playing sports in college, as he earned his degree at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Prior to arriving at Suffolk, Leyden spent seven years coaching girls’ varsity basketball at Revere High before moving on to Reading High to coach there for four additional seasons. Leyden even spent a year at Tufts University as an interim head coach before scoring a position at Suffolk.

Leyden spent his summers as a baseball umpire where he met assistant coach for the men’s team at Suffolk, Dennis McHugh. McHugh and Leyden were umpiring a game together when the assistant coach asked if he would want to coach at Suffolk.

“He said the team was kind of at rock-bottom, and it would have nowhere to go but up,” recalled Leyden. “I’ve never been afraid of challenges. When I took over Revere High School, it was very poor, and when I took over Reading, it was very poor, so I kind of liked reclamation projects.”

When Leyden stepped on the floor for the first practice, he was coach to seven players: two of which being single moms who would not be able to participate on a daily basis. Another worked at a bakery during the week, so she was unable to make it to any weekday practice.

With only four players available at all times and three as question marks, the goal was to not forfeit a single game all year. The Lady Rams still managed to win five games.

Fast forward 25 seasons and 400 wins: the Lady Rams now contain a core of 14 athletes and sport an 18-5 overall record, winning nine of 10 games within the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC). As runner-ups in the GNAC Championship last year, they have the ability to take home championship honors for the first time under Leyden this season.

Much of this improvement is his strong ability to attract players that will fit well within the program.

“[Coach Leyden] works really hard in the offseason to recruit for the team,” noted junior Lexi Hackett in a recent interview with The Journal, claiming to have known Leyden for about five years. “My first impression of Coach was that he really loves basketball and cares about the players he brings in.”

[Leyden] really helped make the transition to college easier and made me feel more comfortable coming in to a new team on the first day of preseason.”

— Marissa Gudauskas

Senior Marissa Gudauskas added on to what Hackett said, also realizing that it is more than just basketball with Leyden.

“I just remember noticing how he really takes an interest in his new players,” said Gudauskas in a recent interview with the Journal. “He made it a point to ask how I was doing and how the family was doing. He really helped make the transition to college easier and made me feel more comfortable coming in to a new team on the first day of preseason.”

Despite winning records in 19 of his 25 seasons, Leyden said that his most fond memories as coach are not the victories, but the personal relationships with every player.

“I have kids that I have been in contact with for 20 years and have been out of school for 20 years,” said Leyden. “I have met some really wonderful student-athletes that have become lifelong friends and supporters.”

Coach Leyden said he would not be able to get where he is today without the unwavering support of his wife Norma and the athletic department.

The legendary coach will continue his run on Saturday in the season finale against Albertus Magnus College.