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Adam Strom named new YVCC women's basketball coach

Veteran high school mentor will try to revitalize struggling program

By Roger Underwood

As the emotional tug-of-war evolved regarding Adam Strom's pursuit of the Yakima Valley women's basketball coaching job, it seemed natural that his three sons would weigh in.

"One of my twins, who's an 8th-grader, said, 'Hey dad, how about you try it for one year,'" Adam Strom recalled. "'And then my older son, Isiah, who's a sophomore, said, 'It doesn't work that way. When dad does something, he's gonna commit.'"

So Strom, who last season led a Yakama Tribal School team that included his own flesh and blood to the program's first state tournament appearance, has opted for another challenge. He will try to rejuvenate a downtrodden YVCC women's program, having been named head coach Wednesday.

"I'm excited," said Strom, 39, who has coached successfully for more than 15 years at the prep level. "It was a little tougher decision to leave Yakama Tribal since I have three boys in the program. I even tried to keep it a secret from them, but they eventually heard I got the job."

Strom said his staff will include Akil White, who assisted at the college last season, along with former Yaks standout Andrea Blodgett.

"We felt we had a good group of applicants," said Yakima Valley athletic director Ray Funk, who is also the men's head coach. "We interviewed seven or eight, and we felt like we had a top two or three.

"We never did rank them, we just went with strengths and weaknesses. And as the process continued, Adam's strengths came shining through."

Strom's prep history includes coaching White Swan's girls who included Blodgett from 2001-05. The Cougars won SCAC titles in 2004 and 2005 and finished fourth in the Class 1A state tournament in 2005.

He moved on to the Wapato boys from 2006-11 and took the Wolves to three state tourneys. After two years at Hermiston, Ore., where the Bulldogs won a league championship in his second season, Strom came to Yakama Tribal in Toppenish where he has taught and coached the past three years.

His wife of 17 years, Relyn, is the school's principal, and Blodgett is currently a teacher there.

"Every coach wants to win a state title," Strom said, "and with eight players returning at Tribal that could happen. But then I thought what I'd really like to do is coach at the next level.

"Some coaches might overlook junior colleges as being the next level, but to me if it's college it's the next level. And I didn't think twice about whether I'm coaching men or women. To me, I'm coaching athletes."

His task at Yakima Valley will be to restore a women's program that reached the NWAC Tournament in each of Cody Butler's nine seasons as head coach, making the title game three straight years and winning it all in 2011, but then steadily declined.

After Butler left in 2012 to become a women's assistant at Boise State, Greg Oldham's teams went a collective 33-80 including 16-67 over the past three years. After a 3-25 finish last season that saw the Yaks lose their last 21 games, Oldham resigned. He will continue as the college's assistant athletic director until the end of this month.

Strom will probably continue teaching at Yakama Tribal, Funk said, and the future of YVCC's assistant athletic director's position is unclear.

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