Fordham Women’s Basketball Introduces New Head Coach Bridgette Mitchell – and a New Era in the Process


Mitchell’s teams are characterized by a fast, gritty and tough style of play. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

“It’s up for women’s basketball here at Fordham.”

Those were the closing remarks of newly appointed head coach Bridgette Mitchell in her introductory press conference last Tuesday. Affectionately known as “Coach Bee,” Mitchell brings a unique style and approach that should help the Fordham women’s basketball program continue and build on its previous success.

Mitchell spent four years as a player at Duke University, helping the team to back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances before making it all the way to the Elite Eight in her senior year. She made the switch to coaching in 2013, with stops at Wagner University, Siena College, James Madison University and the University of Pittsburgh as an assistant coach before getting her first head coaching position at Northeastern University in 2021.

In just two years, Mitchell reformed the Northeastern program. Predicted to finish last in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) in her first year, she led them to finish in the top half of the conference. She upped the ante in her second year, leading them to their first ever regular season title as her team advanced to the semifinals in the CAA tournament for the first time since joining the conference in 2005. As the reigning CAA Coach of the Year, Mitchell will look to carry over her success of rebuilding to a Fordham program that will look very different from years past.

“We kinda knew no matter what, coming into this season with eight graduating seniors, it was gonna be a situation where we needed to rebuild the program,” said Fordham Director of Athletics Ed Kull. “Coach Bee understands what a strong women’s basketball program looks like. Her vision, her playbook, her strategy in terms of building a program, in terms of sustainable success of a program, was extremely clear from day one.”
Mitchell has deep ties to success. During her first year at Siena the team advanced to the championship game of the WBI. In her three years at JMU, they went 78-26, earning three WNIT berths and two CAA regular season titles.

“She wanted the job even more than we wanted her,” added Kull, who cited her approach and fit while emphasizing her affinity for recruiting as aspects that drew Fordham to her. Mitchell served as the recruiting coordinator for Pitt, bringing in four-star recruit Tracey Hueston, Pitt’s highest rated recruit in the ACC, during her tenure.

If you were wondering what a Coach Bee-style team will look like, you need only ask. “I think it’s fair to say we’re gonna play fast. We’re gonna get the pieces in here that are gonna allow us to score in the first eight seconds of the shot clock,” said Mitchell. “It’s all free flowing. I don’t like to put people in a box.”

Emphasizing words like “grit” and “toughness,” Mitchell looks to establish a culture from the very beginning. Taking a moment during the press conference to address the Fordham players in attendance, Mitchell delivered a promise: “I am going to lead with a relentless work ethic. I am going to ignite your competitive spirit in ways that you haven’t experienced. I’m gonna challenge you to be the best every moment, both on and off the court.”
It’s clear that for Mitchell, establishing this culture is the first step to success. “We aren’t going to promise the university or people wins. We aren’t going to promise that we can do magical things. We are going to be a group of people that compete, work and have fun. We know for a fact that wins will come in overflow once we establish our culture.”

The Rams have been a consistent force in the Atlantic 10 for the last decade. That consistent success has gone hand-in-hand with a consistent lineup. That won’t be the case this upcoming season. Graduate students Asiah Dingle, Kaitlin Downey, Jada Dapaa and Meg Jonassen have no more eligibility. Senior Anna DeWolfe has made the leap to a Power Five conference, transferring to Notre Dame for her final year, while senior Sarah Karpell has hit the transfer portal as well. Fordham currently has eight players in the transfer portal, the second most in the A-10. That list includes some of their younger athletes, meaning next year’s squad is going to look very different. That change is something Mitchell embraces.

“My time at Northeastern, we were able to do some special things because of the type of athlete that I recruit. That can come here to the A-10. We can’t promise anything right now — our roster isn’t even full yet. But the style and the type of player that I’m looking for, we’re gonna find, and it’s gonna be an exciting year.”

She may be reluctant to promise wins, but that doesn’t mean her eyes aren’t locked in on success. “The A-10, this league is competitive, but it’s also very winnable,” Mitchell said, with a confident gleam in her eye. “I believe in myself, and when I get my staff here in line, we’re gonna get the right athletes to make some noise.”

Change can hurt. Fordham fans have to say goodbye to a roster that had a bevy of all-time greats. They have to say goodbye to players that have graced the Rose Hill Gymnasium for the last four to five years. They have to say goodbye to coach Candice Green and her staff, who helped instill a sustained culture of positivity and success. They have to say goodbye to an era of Fordham Women’s basketball. But that doesn’t mean change can’t bring new wonders and new joys, new heights and new successes.

“You have to bloom where you’ve been planted,” said Mitchell, a New Jersey native. She’ll certainly look to do just that as she ushers in a new era of Fordham Women’s Basketball.