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By Anna Braunsdorf
Paine College Associate Director of Athletics Selina Kohn advises student-athletes to look at life as an exciting adventure. Her words are not empty, either. Kohn leads by example.
“I’ve been able to not only be a Division II student-athlete, but also a coach and an athletic administrator,” Kohn said. “And when I think about my experiences, if I had to sum them up into one word, I would use legendary.”
Kohn, formerly Selina Bynum, played basketball at Albany State (Georgia) in Albany, Ga. from 1989 - 1993 and has long made a habit of helping others excel both on and off the court. She graduated from Albany State as Division II’s all-time assists leader and her 309 assists during the 1992 campaign still rank as an all-time Division II single-season high. In fact, no Division II player has been able to top Kohn’s 11.9 assists-per-game average from the 1992 season.
“I chose a Division II institution because I felt I could carve out a niche for myself,” Kohn said. “I wanted to be more than just a player. I wanted to be viewed as someone who had the capacity to excel.”
And excel she did. In addition to setting five Division II assists records over her career and receiving Albany State’s Most Valuable Player Award three times, the Thomasville, Ga. native led the Lady Rams to the 1990 SIAC Conference title and was named ESPN’s Black College Female Player of the Year in 1991. In 1993, Kohn’s final year of school, she was named Albany State’s Woman of the Year and was invited to try out for the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team.
“Being a Division II athlete, it was about family; it was about camaraderie; it was about everybody supporting each other,” Kohn recalled. “When you may not have done so well, you still had your support. It wasn’t always just about the win. It was about your learning experience. So I think being a part of that big picture was so important.”
In addition to her athletic accomplishments, Kohn graduated in four years, earning a biology degree in 1994.
After completing her player eligibility, Kohn became an assistant coach for the Albany State women’s basketball team and helped the Lady Rams win SIAC basketball championships in 1996 and 1999. She then left Albany State for Paine College in Augusta, Ga. where she became head coach of the volleyball and women’s basketball teams.
In 2005, Kohn’s volleyball team posted a 35–4 record, ranked first in Division II for hitting percentage, and finished second in the SIAC Tournament. That same year, her basketball team won the SIAC basketball championship and earned a trip to the NCAA Tournament, both feats the team again accomplished in 2006.
The next fall, Kohn stepped down as coach of the women’s basketball team to assume the roles of associate director of athletics and senior woman administrator. She also stayed on as the coach of the volleyball team.
“I think I’ve had a unique experience,” Kohn said. “It has allowed me to be a part of so many people’s lives: my teammates, current student-athletes, coaches.”
Over the years, Kohn’s players have received numerous awards and honors, as has Kohn herself. Her basketball coaching accolades include: SIAC Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year in 2001 and 2005; All-SIAC basketball tournament coach in 2005 and 2006; and being featured in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Finest, a publication highlighting the top players in women’s basketball history across all divisions. On the volleyball coaching side, Kohn was named the SIAC Volleyball Coach of the Year in 2005. And as a culmination of all of her work, Kohn was inducted into the Paine College Hall of Fame in 2011.
In addition to her duties at Paine, Kohn currently serves as a member of the American Volleyball Coaches Association, the NCAA Division II Head Coaches Committee for volleyball, and the National Association of Collegiate Women’s Athletics Administrators.
“When I think about what being a student-athlete meant to me, I think about some of the things that I learned,” Kohn said. “You developed stamina; you learned about balance; you learned about perseverance. And I think all of those things that I learned as a student athlete have helped me in my current role.”
From her roots as a student-athlete, Kohn has certainly taken her own advice and carved out an exciting and adventurous – if not legendary — career.
“Simply stated, the choices you make in life make you,” Kohn said. “I chose Division II.”