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Benjamin Franklin Middle School teacher is hired as Salem girls' hoops coach

Benjamin Franklin Middle School teacher is hired as Salem girls' hoops coach

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Salem High School entered May with its sights set on hiring a new girls basketball coach.

Mission accomplished.

Berlyn Seitz, a Missouri native who has worked as an assistant with varsity programs at Franklin County and Liberty high schools, has been hired to take over Salem’s program.

Seitz replaces Corbitt Hairston, who resigned shortly after completing his sixth season in early March.

Hairston, whose final Salem team finished with an 11-13 overall record and 5-7 in the River Ridge District, said Friday he plans to remain a teacher at Salem.

Seitz, 28, plans to stay on as a life science teacher at Benjamin Franklin Middle School this fall while beginning her tenure as Salem’s coach.

She played three seasons of college basketball in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) at Bridgewater under former coach Jean Willi, graduating in 2014. Seitz received a masters degree in educational leadership from the University of Lynchburg in 2016.

She began her coaching career at Liberty as a basketball assistant under Mike Jones and Emilee Dunton, while helping softball coach Mike Thompson and former volleyball coach Alyssa Kidd in their programs.

Seitz coached under former Franklin County girls basketball coach Tony Wright.

“I feel like I’ve had a unique but awesome experience as far as the amount of head coaches I’ve been able to work under, and two new coaches just to see how they’ve taken over a program,” she said.

“In six years that’s a lot of different way to see things.”

Seitz planned to work as an assistant in 2019-20 under first-year head coach LeBryan Patterson, but she left the staff just before the season began.

“I had some crazy life stuff come up, and it just wasn’t a good fit to keep doing what I was doing,” she said. “It just wasn’t going to work out.”

Seitz said she competed in the equestrienne field while growing up in Mokane, Missouri.

“I never competed at the Grand Prix level, but right underneath it,” she said. “I didn’t come from a family where we could afford a $50,000 horse and have it trained.”

The new coach said she wants her first Salem team to get out and run.

“In girls high school basketball, if you can run in transition and play good defense, you’ll be successful,” she said. “I’m a fan of more of a read-and-react type offense in the half-court setting.”

Seitz is uncertain when she will be able to contact prospective team members. Schools have been closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year because of the COVID-19 outbreak, and the Virginia High School League (VHSL) is not allowing any out-of-season practices until further notice.

“This is uncharted territory,” she said. “That’s something I’m definitely going to seek out how the district wants me to move forward with that.”

Seitz hopes her background under different head coaches in different area districts will help her be ready for the challenge.

“It’s been cool to see the circle, starting in the Seminole [District], then going to the Piedmont then into the Blue Ridge and now to see how it all connects with the River Ridge,” she said.

“I’m super excited. Salem, the tradition of success they have in all of their programs, I’m grateful for the opportunity. I’m just praying that COVID allows us to have a season.”

Robert Anderson writes for The Roanoke Times.

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