Vanese Barnes Joins Women's Basketball as Jumbos' 2nd Future Leaders Fellow

MEDFORD - Vanese Barnes, a 2019 graduate of St. Joseph's College in Maine who has four years of coaching experience, has been hired by the Tufts University Department of Athletics for the new Tufts Athletics Future Leaders Fellowship assistant coaching position with women's basketball.

As part of this two-year program, Barnes will pursue a master’s degree in Diversity and Inclusion Leadership within the Tufts Graduate School of Arts & Sciences while serving as a graduate assistant coach for the Jumbo women’s basketball team. This graduate fellowship was done in partnership with the A&S Graduate School.

Barnes earned a degree in elementary education at St. Joseph's, where she was a member of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference championship team in 2017-18. She previously played at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland, Maine from 2015-17, and was captain of the team and selected as a United States Collegiate Athletic Association Academic All-American in 2017. Barnes played four sports at Spruce Mountain High School in Jay, Maine - basketball, soccer, track and softball.

Since graduating from college, Barnes has been an assistant coach for Southern Maine Community College where she temporarily took over the lead role while the head coach was out on maternity leave. She was also a varsity assistant and the junior varsity head coach at Portland High School for a year. During the 2020-22 school years, she taught at Park Avenue Elementary School in Auburn, Maine. She has also participated in a number of professional development opportunities in recent years, including being a member of the Maine Women's Basketball Coaches Development Series since 2020.

"I am so excited to get started with the Tufts program," Barnes said. "As soon as I heard about the position I knew it was the right next step for me and my career. I have a strong passion for coaching and know Coach Pace will be a great mentor for me both on and off the floor, and I am very thankful for the opportunity. The entire Tufts Community gave a warm and welcome feeling and made me instantly excited to begin this new journey."

Barnes will be joining a Tufts women's basketball program that is one of the most successful in the country. Last year the Jumbos finished with a 22-5 record, earned second place in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) regular-season and played into at least the "Sweet 16" of the NCAA Tournament for the 10th straight season.

"I am thrilled that Vanese will be joining our staff and the Tufts community as a graduate student," Coach Pace said. "Her work ethic, dynamic personality, and playing and coaching experience will be instrumental in positively impacting our players, staff, and the entire Tufts community. Vanese is the perfect person to fill this new and exciting position at Tufts."

This is Tufts Athletics' second graduate fellowship hire in the last year. Marcel Diggs is currently finishing the first of his two years as the Future Leader Graduate Fellow in administration. He is pursuing a master’s degree in Diversity and Inclusion Leadership while also working within the various units of the Athletics Department where he was a valuable contributor to the department's operations during the last year. Tufts alumni Lisa, J81, and Tom Gorman, A82, F18, once again stepped up enthusiastically and generously to fund the program. These fellowships represent a unique opportunity for a future leader to launch their career in intercollegiate athletics and further their education at a world class university. The goal of the program is to also increase opportunities for underrepresented populations to work in the field of intercollegiate athletics.

“Tom and I were so pleased to have had the opportunity to help create the Tufts Athletics Future Leaders Fellowship and get to know Marcel Diggs, the first administrative fellow,” said Lisa Gorman. “We are now equally as pleased to be a part of the first assistant coaching fellowship – made even more meaningful to me in that it will be with the women’s basketball program. Growing up in a small, fairly homogenous Maine town, I did not have the opportunity to experience true diversity until I arrived in Medford. Playing for head coach Mike Tapscott and getting to know the women on the basketball team, which reflected the diversity of Tufts, made me a better person and had a significant and positive impact on my life.

"These fellowships create experiential learning opportunities for future athletics leaders, especially for students from underrepresented backgrounds, whether their dream is to one day move into the executive administrative suite or to the sideline," she continued. "It is our sincere hope Vanese will depart Tufts possessing her personal strong foundation for success, ready and able to become the best mentor, role model, and educator she can be for the young women she will coach and lead for many years to come.”