Bill Gould has enjoyed a lifetime of basketball from the sideline spanning 27 years, and he said it all stemmed from an early decision to give up his career on the court.
“As far as the world’s population goes, I was a pretty good basketball player,” Gould said with a grin during an interview with the Beacon. “But as far as basketball players go, I wasn’t very good. I was a marginal high school player, but I always [understood] the game.”
The calm and self-aware 45-year-old head coach of the women’s basketball team at Emerson grew up in Whitman, Mass., and at 6-foot-5, spent his career at Whitman-Hanson Regional High School camped out in the low post.
Gould said he wasted little time shifting his basketball focus.
He returned to coach the same position for his high school’s boys’ freshman team while studying history at nearby Bridgewater State University.
Five years later, his coaching career took off with help from his older sister, one year his senior, who Gould readily admitted was the better player between the two of them.
“She was a phenomenal athlete — she played three sports at the Division 2 level,” Gould said, “and through her I got to know some people, one of which was an assistant at Division 2 Stonehill College. I was a post coach and they had brought in three freshman posts that year.”
Two of those three freshman bigs were Sue Patchett and Michelle Doonan, who went on to combine for over 4,000 points and 2,000 rebounds.
A few years later, during the 1994-1995 season, Stonehill reached the NCAA Division 2 national semifinals — among the best seasons in the program’s 43-year history.
That deep tournament run and the success of his players resulted in exposure and eventually an opportunity to coach at the pinnacle of women’s college basketball as an assistant at Division 1 Boston College — specializing in post players.
The Eagles thrived in Gould’s eight years there, making the NCAA Tournament six times with two Sweet 16 appearances, defeating top-ranked UConn in 2004 en route to the Eagles’ only Big East title in school history.
At the conclusion of the 2005 season, Gould walked away from Division 1 and took a break from basketball.
“I started having children, I was never home, and as much as I loved [coaching], as much as we had success, it just wasn’t for me anymore,” Gould said.
Taking the job as full-time family man with two boys to raise, Gould still coached part-time for the powerhouse Division 2 Bentley women’s basketball team out in Waltham, while teaching history at the Learning Prep School, a school for children with learning disabilities in nearby Newton.
In 2007, he interviewed for the head women’s basketball coach job at Emerson, and was picked to lead the program.
Seven years later, Gould said he has found a perfect balance between family, basketball, and the new challenges that come with the first year in the more competitive New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference.
“He came from a highly recognized program in BC, with a background as a teacher, [and] he’s someone with a calm demeanor as a coach,” said Emerson’s interim athletic director Stan Nance. “When I first got here [in 2003], I think we had four players on the team. Since [Gould] has been here, he has built the team in terms of roster numbers and being able to compete.”
The Lions have done more than just be competitive during Gould’s tenure.
In his second year in charge, during the 2008-2009 season, the team posted its best record in program history (21-9) and reached the Great Northeast Athletic Conference championship game for the first time, resulting in Gould being named GNAC Coach of the Year.
As a head coach, Gould has retained his reputation as a low post master, the results of which are shown in the strong play of his forwards and centers.
Perhaps the best player in the program’s history, Kathy Andrade, was an undersized 5-foot-6 forward who scored 1,000 points playing under Gould.
The team’s current top scorer, 6-foot junior Kristen Brice, poured in 18 points to go with five rebounds in the Lions Jan. 25th upset over NEWMAC-leading Wellesley, a win Gould said he considers a top moment in his time here.
Brice said she credits her coach with a total overhaul in her post repertoire.
“I don't think that my inside game today even slightly resembles how I played in high school,” Brice said, “and I would say that all my scoring abilities today can completely be credited to Coach Gould.”
In 2012, Gould said he learned the hard way that his involved approach toward teaching can be risky. After demonstrating a post move for forward Catherine Cloutier, another 6-foot junior, she caught Gould with a swift elbow, breaking his nose.
The good-natured Gould was able to make a joke of it.
“I looked really tough,” he said with a smile, “Until everyone heard the real story. [It was a reminder that] my practicing days are long gone.”
Nose broken or not, Gould said coaching at the Division 3 level is ideal.
“Of course we want to get better and have a good time, but we are a two-hour program,” he said. “It’s basketball for two hours [a day] and a life outside of that, and that’s fine with me.”
Assistant sports editor Connor Burton, who is dating a member of the women's basketball team, did not edit this story.