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If a coach is judged on the amount of players they send to compete at the next level, then Edison girls basketball head coach Dianne Lewis currently stands among the region’s elite.

On top of compiling a 236-58 record during her 12 seasons at Edison’s helm, Lewis has seen 12 of her players move on to compete in the collegiate ranks.

What is the secret to her success?

“I guess the key to it is really just developing relationships with the girls,” said Lewis, 53. “Every year, I’m fortunate enough to have a group of young ladies who I just adore. It feels like I gain 12 or 13 daughters. They impact my life, and hopefully, I can impact theirs.”

And like family, Lewis expects her older players to lead and set the example for the younger ones. It looks like last year’s seniors were good teachers.

In perhaps her toughest coaching challenge to date, Lewis led an Edison program with just three upperclassmen on its roster to 18 regular season wins this season, and they look poised to make a run in the National District tournament. Lewis recently earned National District Coach of the Year honors.

In just three years as Mount Vernon’s girls basketball coach, Courtney Coffer has already established quite the rivalry with Lewis. The two have battled for the National District crown the past two seasons and have arguably the district’s most competitive teams.

“Coach Lewis is a great coach,” said Coffer, 29. “She has a knack for getting players to play at a high level year-in and year-out, no matter what talent level she may have. All of her players love and believe in her, and most important, they trust in her as their coach.”

Some of Lewis’s former players have also been inspired to coach themselves. Adria Crawford starred on the 2006 and 2007 state finals Edison teams and was nominated as a McDonald’s All-American in 2008. Crawford recently ended her career as a player at Georgetown but joined the coaching ranks as an assistant at Longwood University (Va.). Crawford reminisced about her time at Edison and recalled a few of the attributes of a Lewis-coached team that she hoped to implement into her own coaching philosophy.

“We really had a familial type of environment. It was a great place to be,” said Crawford, 22, who earned a sociology and theology degree from Georgetown. “Everybody wanted to win and we were all on the same page. Coach Lewis absolutely cared about us. If I wasn’t coaching at Longwood, I would probably be at Edison trying to find a coaching job there.”

While Crawford stayed local with her collegiate decision, former Edison standout Doreena Campbell headed to Westwood and the University of California, Los Angeles. Campbell helped guide Edison to a 104-9 record during her four years at the school and made an immediate impact at UCLA when she started in 30 games her freshman season.

Campbell, 23, said Lewis’s college preparation goes beyond preaching fundamentals on the basketball court.

“She would tell us that although we were playing basketball then in high school, look at it as something you could possibly do for four years,” Campbell said. “She said it might not be something that you can have a career in, but you can definitely get a four-year scholarship.”

Three of Lewis’s former athletes are currently playing at colleges across the country: Ruth Sherrill (Hofstra), Chasity Clayton (Florida State) and Myisha Goodwin-Coleman (N.C. State). Sherrill is Lewis’s newest player to join the college ranks. Hofstra coaches showed early interest in the 6-foot forward, mainly because of how well coached Sherrill appeared to be to Hofstra’s coaches.

“Dianne prides herself on making players fundamentally sound and preparing them for college,” said Hofstra head women’s basketball coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey. “Those attributes can make her successful at any level.”

With the success she’s enjoyed at Edison, it is not surprising to learn that Lewis has fielded coaching offers from college programs. But the former T.C. Williams point guard said she’s perfectly content at Edison.

“I did have a coach approach me,” Lewis said. “I gave it careful thought and consideration with my family, but at the time, I didn’t think the timing was right. I believe everything happens for a reason and believe that I’m placed at Edison for a reason.”

With nine freshmen and sophomores on this year’s Edison roster, it is safe to say that Lewis’s list of collegiate players will only get longer.