UWS graduate helps Troy University Women’s Basketball Team win the Championship
From East Kilbride in Scotland to Alabama in the United States, Neil Harrow’s degree in Sport Coaching at University of the West of Scotland (UWS) has taken him far. We find out about his globetrotting career and recent Championship title with Troy University Women’s basketball team.
Though it’s a long way from his days at UWS, where he graduated in 2010 with a BA in Sport Coaching, alumnus Neil Harrow constantly uses the skills he learnt at UWS in his job as Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach at Troy University, Alabama.
Neil began his seventh season at Troy in 2021-22 and has just helped guide the Trojans to their fifth Sun Belt Conference Championship in his seven seasons with them.
Neil, who lends his expertise with both the guards and forwards, has been a vital part in creating a championship culture within the Troy women’s basketball program and has been instrumental in the development in numerous student-athletes.
Always interested in sports, Neil played basketball seriously from the age of fourteen for several regional and national league teams. After school he briefly took a job in sports retail, then heard about the UWS degree in Sports Coaching.
“I had done some voluntary weekend coaching with a youth group for people with disabilities, and I’d also coached at my high school – I felt I had an ability to connect with players. Plus I love the rush of game-day, so I was delighted to get the last place on the UWS course.
“The degree covered all the elements needed for a career in sports coaching, including physiology, biomechanics, performance analysis and event management, but I enjoyed the sports psychology class the most. It showed me how many levels there are to helping people to improve their performance.”
Neil was one of the founding members of Basketball at the Lanarkshire campus and was inducted in to the UWS Basketball Hall of Fame in 2020. “I am proud to have been one of the people to get the basketball team going at UWS. We were just a bunch of guys who weren’t scared to put ourselves out there and start something new. We hoped to have fun, represent the university well, and let it grow over time into something better. I think we achieved all 3.”
After graduating Neil moved to Barcelona. “I knew that I ultimately wanted to work in the States,” Neil says, “but America’s a difficult market to move into, so I went to Spain to build my experience. I started playing basketball for a team called F.C. Martinenc and became an assistant coach, learning the ropes and also learning Spanish. After a year I became a head coach and took over an under-18 boys team.”
In 2013, after leading his teams to league victory, Neil got a call from the women’s basketball team at Valdosta State University in Georgia, USA, offering him a role as Graduate Assistant Coach. Not only was this a great career opportunity, it also gave Neil a scholarship which paid for his master’s degree in Education Leadership.
As Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach at Troy University Neil says he has found the perfect job for this phase of his career. “It’s easier to support yourself by coaching in America. The amount of resources, facilities and talent is bigger here, there are more opportunities, and it is the highest standard of basketball in the world. If I can, I plan to be here for the rest of my life.”