Sports Sitdown: UNH’s Peyton Booth made transition from the court to the sidelines

  • UNH women’s basketball assistant coach Peyton Booth talks with player Amanda Torres during a game last January. Courtesy

  • Samuel Habib interviews Peyton Booth in early September. Watch the video on

For the Monitor
Published: 10/5/2020 9:00:28 AM

Peyton Booth is the assistant coach for the University of New Hampshire women’s basketball team. It is only her second year on the staff, but she played basketball at UNH and graduated in 2018, so“I’m pretty familiar with the place,” she says. Peyton said her most memorable moment at UNH came during her junior year (2016-17) when the team went 26-6 and won the American East regular season conference for the first time in program history. Peyton sat down for an interview on Sept. 2.

Samuel: What is your current role with the University of New Hampshire and what are your main responsibilities?

Peyton: My responsibilities range from recruiting, to scheduling practice, to organizing practice and planning practice. I obviously work with all our athletes directly. I schedule our games. I’m the head of our community service and our alumni relations. I work with our social media. I kind of have my hand in a little bit of almost everything right now.

Samuel: How did you begin your career?

Peyton: I started coaching I guess in 2018. I was lucky enough to get a job as a graduate assistant at the University of Akron. I worked for a great boss. Her name is Melissa Jackson. She’s the head coach there and I loved it. I got to do my graduate degree and kind of figure out what coaching’s about a little bit and then I was extremely fortunate to have coach (Maureen) Magarity who was the old head coach at UNH. She gave me a call and offered me the job as an assistant coach. I took it and here I am. I’ve almost always wanted to coach. I grew up a coach’s kid. My dad’s a high school coach so I was always around it my whole life so I always wanted to, I always knew I wanted to do it and just the right opportunities kind of presented themselves to me to lead me to be where I am now.

Samuel: What kind of challenges do you experience in your position?

Peyton: Yeah that’s a good question. I think time management just like a lot of jobs but especially coaching can be really hard during the winter. During our games specifically you’re getting home sometimes at two in the morning from a bus trip and you have to get up and be in at practice at seven the next day. On top of maybe it’s also your scouting report that you have to have perfectly prepared as well. Definitely put a lot of time into it and also just like making sure your personal life is in check as well. You don’t want to burn yourself out because it is so busy. You do want to be involved with your family and your loved ones so just keeping a good personal work-life balance for sure.

Samuel: How has Covid-19 impacted UNH basketball?

Peyton: Yeah it has had a huge impact in a bunch of ways. For example, this summer we weren’t able to bring our student-athletes on campus. Typically we have them come up in the month of July – we’re practicing, we’re lifting, they’re doing things, they’re getting to know each other. In the summer we didn’t. We went six months actually without seeing each other in person, which is kind of crazy because you’re used to seeing these kids and everyone every single day. So that has been a huge impact, I mean, let alone we don’t necessarily even know what the season’s gonna look like if we’re gonna start on November 10 like we’re supposed to.

A lot of leagues are changing a lot of things. We thankfully just got our students back on campus (in late August). So we finally got to see them ... but it’s not going to be the same at all we have to social distance and we can’t have contact for a long time, but we’re just rolling with the punches, we’re just happy we can be here and we’re going to do whatever it takes to just get back to a place where we can have a season.

Samuel: How has COVID-19 impacted your life outside of work?

Peyton: Specifically to me, so my family and my boyfriend live in Ohio. So when COVID hit it was kind of, I don’t want to say like funny but it was an interesting situation for me because I was going home to visit my family for UNH spring break and literally while I was home COVID-19 kind of hit the country. So, I ended up what was supposed to be a week visit to Ohio turned into a six-month stay in Ohio, which was kind of a blessing in disguise to get to be with my family and my boyfriend for that time that I wouldn’t normally get. Now I’m back in New Hampshire, which i’m so excited about. I’m so ready to get back to work with these kids.

Samuel: Are you working from home now due to COVID-19? If so how has your position changed due to working from home?

Peyton: So I am not. This (where she is sitting for the interview) is actually my office. You can kind of see the whiteboard behind me, but i was working from home until last week was my first week in the office. So things definitely look a lot different as a basketball coach from your couch verses from the court. So we watched a lot, I mean a lot of film. That was the majority of what we did with our time including recruiting because typically in the summers we go recruiting all over the country but we can’t do that. So we watched a lot of films, a lot of Zoom calls. I got super familiar with that. Just a lot of time spent in front of a computer, which isn’t necessarily like my thing. I’d rather do it in person, but it worked and so I’m thankful that we do have this technology but ready to be back in person so super excited to be in the office, for sure.

Samuel: What did a typical day look like for you before COVID-19, and what does a typical work day look like for you now?

Peyton: Things kind of vary for me based on if we’re in season, out of season, what time of year it is, but right before COVID-19 hit, it was March and our season had just finished up, but a typical day in season would look like we’d have practice for two or so hours. The kids are coming in and out of the office, we’re chatting, we’re catching up, working on game plans for future games against our opponents. Planning scheduling, planning travel, just a lot of different things.

Now it’s still a lot of the same because there’s a lot of planning behind the scenes that a lot of people don’t necessarily know about that goes into coaching. So a lot of that’s being done right now. There’s actually only two of us on our staff right now because we just got a new head coach so our staff is very small so that makes for a little bit more work for the two of us but that’s okay. We’re just happy to be here so I’m not complaining about that, but a lot of it is spent from our desk. We have our masks. We can’t leave our office without wearing them, which is not that bad at all, but just a little bit slower pace right now since COVID’s hit. We’re supposed to be able to start if everything goes to plan we’re hopefully able to start practice in October and then things will kind of pick back up to kind of what I talked about where it left off before COVID.

Samuel: How do you feel about athletes using their platforms to protest social injustice?

Peyton: I support it completely. We actually have a young lady on our team, Faith Bonnet, who created a clothing line and she sold like three different styles of t-shirts and she called it “For the Kingdom” and the proceeds actually went towards George Floyd’s family. The other one went towards a youth community in New Jersey where she’s from to aid and all that. I totally support it. I think that if you have a platform and you feel passionate about something you should use it. So I’m all about it. Our kids have been having really great conversations about it so I love it.

Samuel: As a former college athlete, how would you have prepared and trained with the uncertainties and challenges of COVID-19 as a student and as an athlete?

Peyton: Yeah that’s tough. Our athletes right now it’s obviously hard to train. Our athletes can’t even get in the gym until September 14th I think . So they’re not working out in a gym, they’re not having rebounders, you’re not allowed to share balls, stuff like that. So we’re very fortunate to have really hard-working young ladies who are like I want to shoot, what can I do, what can I do? So we’ve instructed them to get outdoor balls. There’s outdoor courts around campus so go work out there. When it comes to lifting they’re starting next Wednesday. They will have to wear masks when they lift, keep their social distance, clean early and stuff like that. So it’s definitely different and it’s gonna be challenging for sure, but that’s okay because it’s happening that’s all we want is for it to happen. So if there’s a few challenges we’ll get over it and just keep pushing forward.

Samuel: What kind of safety protocols and practices for COVID 19 will need to be established for basketball to resume at UNH in the winter.

Peyton: Our athletic department and our university as a whole has come up with some really great plans to keep everyone safe. So our university as a whole is testing every student twice a week for COVID. On top of that our athletic department has actually come up with a plan that has three phases of slowly incorporating it back to what a normal basketball workout would look like. For example phase one is this week and next week and there’s no workouts to be done, except for lifting. When we come to phase two which starts the 14th, it’s small groups that have to be socially distanced, but they can share balls. Then by week three we’re hoping that if everything goes to plan, we’ll be able to practice contacts, things like that. So there’s some awesome, awesome plans in place for to keep us safe in our university, and our athletic department has done an amazing job with coming up with all that.

Samuel: What advice do you have for incoming freshman students arriving on campus trying to navigate their first college experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Peyton: That is a good question because it is going to be crazy, and I already know as a freshman it’s hard to be away from home for the first time, so let alone in a pandemic I would say one wear your mask, just do what you’re supposed to do and wear your mask. Two be responsible especially at UNH – they’re not supposed to have social gatherings. Do your part, don’t take part in social gatherings. Keep everyone safe, but then I just say like it’s going to be challenging, but it’s kind of a challenge for everyone. Thankfully these freshmen, while it is their first year of college and they’re going through a pandemic, it’s everyone’s first experience going through college in a pandemic. So just keep pushing through it will eventually, hopefully get back to a place that is a little bit normal.

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