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Role Model for Change

Asami Morita

As the first head coach of full Japanese nationality in NCAA basketball, Asami Morita aims to inspire women on and off the court

by  Taylor Blum 

Asami Morita was fixated on basketball from a young age. Growing up in the central Japanese capital city of Nara, Asami was raised in a culture where a strong work ethic and an intense pressure to be successful is the norm. Many young kids are expected to study and/or practice for nearly 12 hours per day, including weekends. From a young age, Asami knew basketball was going to be the focus of all those hours. Realizing that it was unlikely that she would become a professional athlete, Asami turned her attention to coaching.

“I knew that if I wanted to be a coach and learn from the best, I had to come to United States,” Asami says.

With no connections or proficiency in the English language, Asami obtained a visa and made her way to Idaho State University (ISU) to work as a student manager for the women’s basketball team.  

When she wasn’t working in her role for the team, Asami took graduate classes in athletic administration while also learning English in English as a Second Language classes.

Morita credits Seton Sobolewski, the head coach she worked for at ISU, as her mentor. It was from there, after all, that Asami would work her way up the ranks, including stops at NCAA Division I schools University of Nevada-Reno and Robert Morris University (PA), the latter of which she helped guide to three NCAA Tournament appearances, three conference tournament championships, and four regular season titles, before eventually being named the head coach for Westminster’s women’s basketball team—a position she began last summer.

 “Asami comes highly regarded and well mentored, having assisted with and led successful programs and championship teams,” says Westminster Athletic Director Shay Wyatt. “Her calm and confident demeanor—along with her philosophy and passion to further develop our student-athletes and build upon the success of our women's basketball program—stood out.”

Asami’s appointment marks the first time that a coach of full Japanese nationality has been named the head coach of an NCAA basketball program, on either the men’s or women’s side, based on research from the data available.

“I’m excited to be at Westminster University and leading the women’s basketball program,” Asami says. “What attracted me to Westminster was the university’s small size, the high academics and, being an immigrant myself, the strong focus on diversity.”

Alongside her goal of making an impact for Westminster’s women’s basketball program, Asami also recognizes the impact she can have on Japanese women who traditionally don’t acquire coaching roles. 

She regularly hosts virtual coaching clinics for Japanese coaches with the goal of helping to progress the movement of women in Japan toward obtaining a stable and successful career.

“I created my own track in life, one that is different from the traditional track of what’s expected of women in Japan,” Asami says. “I hope that there are more female coaches from Japan who will follow what I’ve done. It won’t be easy, but it can be done—and I will help them.”



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The Westminster Review is Westminster University’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.