While finishing his undergraduate work in 2008, Grove City native Brian Sansom’s goal was to one day become a college basketball coach.

Now only a year and a half later, the 24-year-old already has his chance. Sansom has been named head coach of the women’s basketball team at his alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

“My first practice with the kids will be the 27th,” said Sansom, who was hired last week as a replacement for Allan King. The coach had began the season with the Lady Panthers, but resigned after a 2-7 start.

“I’m kind of familiar with the kids and the campus,” Sansom said. The 2003 Grove City High graduate spent his college years in Bradford where he picked up a degree in sport and recreation management and also served as an assistant coach of the women’s team from 2005 to 2008.

Sansom, a son of Denny and Debbie Sansom, had been working as an assistant coach this winter at Wilmington (Ohio) College before taking the new job at Pitt-Bradford.

Sansom said he is hoping for a “smooth transition” in his takeover of the team. Many of the girls he said he is still familiar with from his days as a Pitt-Bradford assistant and some of them he even recruited.

“There was a class of about 12 sophomores,” he said. “About five or six of those kids were my recruits. The junior class I’ve actually coached before.”

“I’m looking forward to it,” Sansom said of the challenge of not only being one of the youngest coaches in all of the NCAA, but also turning around the program that last won an Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference women’s basketball title in 1998.

“Being in the league before, I’m kind of familiar with the teams,” Sansom said. “We’re gonna work hard in the classroom and on the court. I’ve had a lot of good role models to learn from.”

In addition to his parents, Sansom said Grove City High boys basketball coach Don Fee had a big influence on him as well as new Sharon boys coach Justin Magestro, with whom he worked under as an assistant for the Penn-Ohio Athletic Club traveling team.

“He was a great mentor” and “somebody I really paid attention to,” Sansom said of Fee, who he played under at Grove City.

“Without those two (Fee and Magestro) and the impact they made on me while still an undergrad, I probably wouldn’t be where I’d be today,” Sansom added.

Sansom’s first tilt as head coach will come at 6 p.m. Jan. 6 when Pitt-Bradford travels to Buffalo State after the holiday hiatus. He said he hopes to use the game as a tune up before traveling to Erie on Jan. 6 for a game with rival Penn State-Behrend.

With the bulk of its conference schedule still left to play, there’s plenty of time for the Panthers to make a mark this season.

Down the road, Sansom said he plans to make western Pennsylvania one of his primary targets for recruting, especially the Mercer County area.

“There’s always some good basketball players in Mercer County,” Sansom said. “My goal is to get a couple kids each year.”

Besides coaching, Sansom will also be begining work on a master’s degree at California University of Pennsylvania. But having worked as an assistant during his undergraduate days as well, juggling coaching and schoolwork is old hat now for the 24-year-old.

“The one thing my parents taught me was time management,” he said. “They taught me to stay focused on what I was doing. I have the experience of handling both workloads.”

For the Pitt-Bradford women’s team’s entire upcoming schedule, visit www.upb.pitt.edu/athletics.