Natalie Sweeney is in her second year with Transylvania as assistant coach with the Transylvania women’s basketball program for the 2019-20 season.
In Sweeney’s first year at Transylvania, the Pioneers reached new frontiers for the first time in the history of the program. During the 2018-2019 season, Sweeney helped guide the Pioneers to an overall record of 27-3 and a 17-1 run through the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season. The Pioneers advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four seasons by earning an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament in winning the HCAC Conference Tournament Championship.
Along with the regular-season and conference tournament titles, Sweeney assisted in elevating the Pioneers to the NCAA Sweet 16 round for the first time in program history.
As assistant coach, Sweeney’s array of responsibilities include directing guard play development, scouting and recruiting, and overseeing summer team and individual camps, as well as hosting day camps during the school year.
Prior to joining the Transylvania staff in 2018, Sweeney worked at NCAA Division II University of Illinois- Springfield in Springfield, Illinois, where she served on the coaching staff as an assistant coach for two seasons. Sweeney left her imprint upon the program from an individual and team standpoint as the program experienced unprecedented success during her two-year stint. While Sweeney was at Illinois-Springfield, the 2017-18 squad set a program record for most overall wins, most conference wins, and made the program's first appearance in the D2SIDA rankings.
Following her first season with the Pioneers, Sweeney was selected for a collection of exclusive coaching opportunities to further hone her experience. In April 2019, Sweeney joined a select number of elite women's assistants from across the country as part of the Women Coaches NextUP program conducted by the Women Leaders in College Sports and in partnership with the Women's Basketball Coaches Association. NextUP is a program geared towards promoting the advancement and retention of female basketball coaches in college athletics. Participants in the NextUP program learned from college athletics administrators with a focus on leadership and career advancement during the workshop.
Sweeney was also selected to participate in the Basketball Coaches Academy hosted by the NCAA in May 2019. Sweeney was one of 30 coaches in the nation selected from across the three divisions of men's and women's college basketball on an annual basis. At the Coaches Academy, Sweeney was part of a coaching event that offered instruction on communication with campus and community members, building a culture of on-and off-court success for student-athletes, budget management, and coaching strategies.
Later that offseason, Sweeney was able to attend the Women’s Coaches Academy offered by WeCOACH and the NCAA, graduating as part of Class #47 in June 2019. WeCOACH is an organization dedicated to the recruitment, advancement, and retention of women coaches of all sports and levels.
Sweeney’s budding coaching career follows a standout playing career at NCAA Division I Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky where she played from 2011 through 2016.
Upon completing her bachelor's degree, Sweeney was selected for the Women's Basketball Coaches Association's "So You Want to Be a Coach" program in April 2016. Presented in partnership with WeCOACH, this program assists female collegiate basketball players who are interested in pursuing a career in coaching women's basketball by providing them with professional development and career advancement through education, skills enhancement, networking and exposure opportunities. The program also increases awareness regarding the availability of talented female basketball players who want to coach.
Sweeney's arrival to Lexington marks a return to her Central Kentucky roots; the Elizabethtown, Kentucky native was a standout player at Elizabethtown High School where she was named the 5th Region Player of the Year in 2011 and led her team to a State Runner-up finish in 2009.
Sweeney earned a Bachelor of Arts in Health and Physical Education from Morehead State University. She also obtained her Master of Education in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership from the University of Illinois in August 2017.