Losing a year of competition due to the pandemic was rough for the women’s basketball program at Hostos Community College in the Bronx, which had built a fierce reputation. The Caimans dominated CUNYAC play for several years and won the NJCAA regional title four consecutive years (2017–’20). Hostos claimed back-to-back national titles, emerging triumphant in the NJCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Championship in 2018 and ’19.

As Hostos is a two-year institution, most of the names on this year’s roster are new to the team. The coaching staff is also new, although head coach Dwight Shaw has a strong history with the college as an assistant coach of the men’s team. “There was uncertainty about this year, but I was always confident,” said Shaw, who was hired last spring.

Shaw, a graduate of Brooklyn College, has been coaching girls’ basketball for the past 11 years. In addition to Hostos, he coached at Nazareth Regional High School in Brooklyn, winning several state championships, as well as AAU with Castle Athletics.

“My goal is to continue the tradition. I don’t predict a fall-off. We’ll continue to get these women onto a senior college—whether Division I, II or III. Just continue the winning ways that Hostos has and continue to recruit kids that will build that expectation and continue to thrive,” said Shaw, who also teaches health at a charter school in the Bronx.

The Caimans opened the season with a couple of wins. Shaw said he and the players are taking things one game at a time, one practice at time. Cognizant that community college student-athletes often have multiple obligations between school, jobs and family, he schedules practices in the evening.

“I’m a big believer in you can’t rush greatness,” Shaw said. “I have really high expectations, but the first expectation is to win a CUNY championship. Then take it from there.”

Since community college players are only around for two years, Shaw makes it clear they don’t have time to waste. In addition to his contacts, the assistant coaches are also solid recruiters who know the basketball scene in New York City. Of course, they’re also knowledgeable of the Xs and Os.

While Shaw hopes to someday coach at a four-year institution, his immediate goal for Hostos student-athletes combines academic and athletic success. “One of my real things is to see the graduation rate at Hostos get even better,” he said. “Seeing that the ladies can get an education and a college degree.”

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