Sadly, too often Black coaches at any level aren’t given full credit for what they do, especially their strategist skills, and especially Black women coaches.
Over a span of 10 days, we’ve witnessed three Black females on the sidelines during a four-team girls’ high school basketball tournament at Hopkins High School; two Black females coaching against each other at a Suburban East Conference contest, and a Black female brought her Wisconsin club to play Minnesota at The Barn.
“I think sometimes what we do just gets pushed under the rug a little bit just because we are Black women,” said Tanysha Scott, now in her second season as Roseville High School girls’ varsity basketball coach. “We are outsiders of the coaching community in this particular state.”
“That’s why it’s so important,” added Scott after her club defeated host East Ridge, coached by Ashley Ellis-Milan, also in her second year at East Ridge.
Scott was a 2001 De La Salle graduate and star at Minnesota Duluth (2001-05), where she earned a political science degree. She later cut her coaching teeth at AAU, then assistant stints at Blake and Minneapolis South, where she later served as the varsity coach (2013-15).
She returned to her high school alma mater and led the Islanders to the 2019 state championship and was named All-USA Coach of the Year.
“We’re changing that culture and it’s a good thing,” said Scott. “It’s a good thing and it’s a really good thing for Minnesota.”
Ellis-Milan starred at St. Paul Central (2001-05) and helped to lead her school to a third-place finish in the 2005 state tournament. She went on to star at Minnesota (2005-10), where she started 117 consecutive games and became a two-time all-Big Ten performer.
After she earned her education degree, Ellis-Milan played pro ball in Germany and Greece before returning home, earning a master’s in education, and getting into coaching.
The St. Paul native was a Concordia-St. Paul assistant coach (2014-18) and also served as an assistant on Scott’s De La Salle staff before her first HC job at East Ridge.
“It’s a lot more work than I thought,” admitted Ellis-Milan. “I like competing at a high level like this.”
Scott and Ellis-Milan are two Black females coaching girls’ basketball at two predominately White schools in the suburbs.
“We respect each other,” noted Scott of Ellis-Milan. “I gave her so much credit for what she does.”
Ellis-Milan said, “It’s so cool to coach in this state right now for girls’ basketball because we just have so much talent everywhere throughout this state.”
Marisa Moseley made her first visit to Williams Arena on Jan. 30 in her first season as Wisconsin head women’s basketball coach. It’s her second HC opportunity after three seasons at Boston University (2018-21), and after 13 seasons as an assistant (2009-18, UConn; 2007-09, Minnesota; and 2005-07, Denver).
It was her first time at the Barn since she left the Gophers many years ago.
“The atmosphere was great,” said Moseley to the MSR after her first time back at the Barn since working on Pam Borton’s staff. “It was really a formative part of my coaching journey,” she stressed.
Moseley joined Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer (now on medical leave) as the Big Ten’s only Black WBB coaches.
Like Scott and Ellis-Milan, Moseley also fully understands the significance of being a Black woman coaching at a predominately White school: “I take it as a huge responsibility, and I take it seriously,” she said. “I try to do the best job I can, not just as a coach but as a role model of the way that I carry myself and the way I teach the game.”
Finally, the UW coach would like to see the day when Black women coaches are “normalized … so that at some point we’re not going to be talking about [being] first anymore but that it’s just a coach,” surmised Moseley.
“I think it’s a small step in the right direction for us to move it and pay it forward. I think it’s good for us to be in these environments,” said Scott.
“I love it,” concluded Ellis-Milan.
Note: Visitation Coach Faith Johnson Patterson, the state’s winningest Black girls’ basketball coach, won her 500th game last week.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.