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International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Varsity Basketball Coach Sean Whalen Brings International Experience to WIS

Howard University’s former Assistant Coach Sean Whalen during a basketball game. Whalen is the new coach of the WIS boys varsity basketball team. (Rodney Pierce/Howard University)

When Coach Sean Whalen walked into Tregaron for the first time as the boys varsity basketball coach during the 2021-2022 school year, he inherited a team in turmoil which hadn’t experienced a winning season in multiple years. In just two years, Whalen has earned the trust of his players and has transmitted his experience and passion for the game to the team. 

Whalen started his basketball career in 1998 as a recruited athlete at Concordia College. He scored more than 1,000 points in his first two seasons, earning the Freshman of the Year title. 

In 2001, he transferred to the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, playing at the college Division II level. During this time, his team became both East Regional champions and conference regular season champions. The team was ranked 11th in the nation going into the national tournament. Whalen was a three-point threat for the team and positioned in the top five of the conference regarding his shooting behind the arc.

In 2003, Sean Whalen embarked on his path to professional coaching as Head Basketball Coach and Camp Director at a Basketball Development Camp in the D.C. area. He stayed at this position until 2015. Whalen focused on workouts which were aimed to help improve professional and college players. In the meantime, from 2005 to 2009, Whalen was also the Head Varsity Coach at The Potomac School. 

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He then moved to professional basketball in 2010 as the Head Coach of the Algerian National Team, leading the team to become the Algerian Cup Champions. After coaching internationally for five years, Whalen returned to the D.C. area as an assistant coach at Howard University in 2015.

In 2021, Whalen decided to apply to be the head coach of the boys varsity basketball team due to WIS’s international aspect. Whalen’s past experiences from his extensive resumé have shaped the coach he is today at WIS.

He highlighted the lessons he’s learned from his successes and failures all around the world that have influenced how he leads his team. “Every position I have had as a coach has led me to believe that every person on the team has value,” Whalen said. “Players, coaches and managers all have different roles, but we all have the same value.” 

This is a philosophy that is very important to Whalen and stems from his passion for the game. He tries to convey this philosophy to all his players and believes this is a key factor in players’ growth. “[Having] an understanding that working on your game and practice does make them better players… makes the team better,” Whalen said. 

Students believe this way of thinking has led to a greater camaraderie and stronger team spirit. “He’s really helped in keeping the team together as we’ve gone through rough losses throughout the year,” sophomore Dylan Anderson said. “[Whalen] always tries to keep the team energy high and tries to knock away the negative energy, which has helped us in our wins.” 

Compared to other high schools in the DMV area, the WIS varsity basketball team is relatively small with a roster of about 10 players, so it has been hard for the team to reach its full potential. “[Whalen] has been helping us overcome the adversity of being one of the youngest and smallest teams in the league,” Anderson said. 

The faith and resilience Whalen has instilled in his team, as well as the one on one attention he devotes to each player, has improved the students’ technique.  “Last year I only made one [three pointer] the entire season, and after putting in work with Coach Whalen, I’ve made nine ‘threes’ midway through the year,” Anderson said. “He has helped me develop as a player and up my game during his time as coach here.”

All of Whalen’s time spent coaching and instructing his players links back to his lifelong passion for basketball, which he hopes to convey to everyone he works with. “I just want the players to have a good experience in the sport that we all love,” Whalen said. 

By Kas Salehi and Leonardo Sarzi Braga

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About the Contributors
Leonardo Sarzi Braga
Leonardo Sarzi Braga, Multimedia Publications Editor
Kas Salehi
Kas Salehi, Sports Editor
Hi, I’m Kas. I’m a junior and this is my second year as the Sports Editor at Dateline. I have been writing for three years and I enjoy writing about personal stories and profiles within sports. Outside of Dateline I enjoy playing tennis and the guitar. 

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