This archived article was written by: Scott Froehlich
Entering her second season as assistant coach at USU Eastern, Morgan Warburton-Nelson finds herself as a regular fixture on the coaching staff.
Working alongside her sister, head coach Chelsey Warburton, Morgan helped shape the Eagles’ women’s basketball team into a powerful squad. An example that illustrates this change is the team having finished their exhibition games with nine victories, equaling the total wins through all of last season.
Since being added to the coaching staff in 2015, Morgan’s pairing with her sister has created a one-two-punch. Both sisters acknowledge the fact that they both played similar styles in their respective playing careers and their coaching styles are comparable.
“We agree on most stuff, have the same ideas, but we also have different and separate ideas…that we mesh together to make what’s best for the kids,”Chelsey said. “She knows what I am thinking before I say it.”
Morgan has deep basketball roots in Utah, and earned a number of accolades throughout her playing career.
During her time at Carbon High School, Morgan was a triple threat in sports, earning all-state and all-region honors in basketball, volleyball and softball.
As a Ute at the University of Utah, Morgan made back-to-back appearances as first team for the All-Mountain West Conference in 2007 and 2008.
She also led her team in scoring as a sophomore and had a 32-game double-digit scoring streak the following year.
After college she was drafted by the WNBA’s Sacramento Monarchs 33rd overall and ended up playing professionally in Spain for the European League.
Following her two-year stint overseas, Morgan returned to Utah to become the video coordinator for her alumna at the U of U. After four years working for the Utes, Morgan became the assistant basketball coach for the Eagles in 2015.
Morgan explained the transition of becoming assistant coach and spoke to the team’s attributes during the preseason. She also touched upon some personal aspects of her life and her relationship with her sister.
“The transition has been challenging but I have had so much fun being able to finally coach and be hands on with the players. My favorite part is seeing the development in each player.
“I am so grateful to have been a video coordinator for as long as I was. Not only did I grow in the technology aspect, I was able to watch a lot of film and train my eyes to see things quicker. For scouting purposes it has been very beneficial to apply that into the coaching aspect,“ Morgan said.
The bond between the Warburton sisters reflects the way they coach together.
“Family is always first. She is one of my best friends and we agree on almost everything. We played the same way, and we coach the same way. That means doing everything you can on and off the floor to give yourself a chance to win every time you play. Preparation is key,” she said.
What stood out to Morgan the most about this year’s team?
“I am most impressed at the level of love and respect that they have for one another. We are fortunate to have the talent of each of them on the basketball floor, but more importantly their level of character. Each brings something different that has made the group as a whole pretty amazing.”
The sisters always stress moving past the team’s mistakes and working on what they can fix in the future.
“We are continuously working on reminding them of the “next play.” They are such perfectionists that when mistakes are made they tend to linger on the mistake rather than providing a positive response to reverse it. Mistakes are going to happen, we are teaching them it is the response afterward that will change that mistake as long as it is a positive one.”
So what does Morgan do when she’s not coaching?
“I love spending time at home or in the mountains with my husband Tyler and two dogs Remi and Si.”
Finally, there was the matter of who would win in a game of one-on-one between Morgan and her sister.
“That’s easy…my boss of course.”
Even though this last answer seemed a little coerced, it is worth noting that Chelsey was also asked about a hypothetical head-to-head. She said, “We’ll call it even.” A number of players were also inquired about this, but none of them came forward with any predictions.
It is evident that Morgan has made an impact with her players as they all had positive words to say about her. Eagles’ center Maile Richardson said, “Both bring a competitive and structured atmosphere to the team.”
Guard Bryndie Ballam commented that Morgan, “stays positive with us.” Guard Kaitlin Toluono added that both coaches also, “…Complement each other, which helps us.”
With further commentary on Morgan’s chemistry with her sister, center Sara Morley said, “They are very tough, and they are very fair. If you don’t do something they’re not going to let you play for it, but if you do it then they are going to reward you for it. And I think that is amazing.”