Sciammas jumps onto MIHS hoops scene as girls varsity head coach

‘I’m trying to make this program a community-wide thing.’

Ariel Sciammas said the sky’s the limit for the talented Mercer Island High School (MIHS) varsity girls basketball team and he’s thrilled to begin coaching the squad this coming season.

Over the last five years, the Islanders’ new head coach has guided boys and girls squads for the Tree of Hope Basketball Club, Team Lavine (Elite Sports Academy) and Emerald City Basketball Academy. Currently, he’s coaching Tree of Hope’s U17 AAU girls and fourth-grade girls teams.

Sciammas discussed his three-pronged basketball philosophy: “I’m going to coach the girls hard and love them hard; I’m going to want them to get better both as basketball players and as individuals; and in the end, it’s about having a good experience and having some fun.”

The Edina, Minnesota-born Sciammas attended Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, where he played basketball and football. After moving to Seattle, he worked as a strength training coach for kids during their athletic development and also worked with the MIHS boys basketball program.

Sciammas feels that Mercer Island is the ideal place to present his coaching philosophy.

After speaking with MIHS athletic director Lindsey Blaine and boys varsity head coach Gavin Cree, “I just felt like this was the perfect fit for me and I felt like I was going to have the support and infrastructure that would allow me to prosper and grow” while guiding the girls to reap success.

Noted Blaine, who announced Sciammas’ hiring on June 18: “MIHS is excited to welcome coach Ariel as our next head coach. His commitment to developing well-rounded athletes both on and off the court aligns perfectly with our school’s values. We are confident that coach Ariel will lead our girls basketball program to success while fostering a positive and supportive team environment.”

Last season, he served as a varsity boys assistant basketball coach at North Creek High School in Bothell, where he’s worked in the classroom for the last two years as a special education teacher and running the Aspire program for students with social emotional learning issues, behavior issues or who have experienced severe trauma. He will continue teaching at North Creek while coaching at MIHS.

Sciammas said his team will be smart, tough, physical, confident and fundamentally sound.

“We’re going to attack the rim on the offensive end and shoot open shots. On the defensive end, we’re going to pressure the ball and make people make tough shots,” he said. “I think if we work hard and compete and we’re doing it for the right reasons, doing it for each other, then everything’s going to take care of itself.”

He knows some of the players from coaching against them and seeing them around the programs he’s coached for over the years. Some of his friends have coached them as well. He wants them to soak up the entire basketball experience, including games, practices, bus rides and more.

Along with coaching varsity, Sciammas will be managing the girls high school program, helping out with fundraising and engaging with the elementary and middle school hoops programs.

“I’m trying to make this program a community-wide thing. Make sure that everyone feels welcome and encouraged to be a part of it and feels valued in the program,” he said.

Away from the hoops scene, the Seattle resident enjoys traveling, golfing, being on the water when the sun’s out and spending time with family and friends.