Tomekia Reed always knew coaching at Jackson State was a goal she wanted to achieve. She said she didn’t know when it would happen, but after the recent death of her father, she’s glad it happened right now.
I sat down with her this week as she reflected on her journey back to Jackson.
“Growing up in Jackson, was different,” said Reed. “I was raised by pretty much all boys, I was the baby girl of three boy. We had a tough life. We had to grow up playing all sports.”
Reed, the Jackson State women’s head coach, said her upbringing in Jackson, paved the way for her to be a head coach today.
“I played for Murrah High School for Anna Jackson, we won two state championships with her, she just kind of instilled everything in me that I have right now as far as confidence, my work ethics.”
“When I first started coaching basketball, I started at a junior college in Georgia. I got the opportunity at Jackson State to be an assistant coach. My brother was murdered my third year here at Jackson State and that bothered our family extremely bad. So, I begin to look for jobs outside of the state to get away from the bad memories.”
After nine years away coaching at schools from Louisiana Tech to Southern Miss, Reed was named the head coach at Jackson State in April of this year, her dream job.
“Growing up, you always see Jackson State, you see Jackson State winning the championship, you see the Sonic Boom, you see something big in the city of Jackson and you want to be a part of it. Once I became an assistant coach, I always knew I wanted to come back as the head coach, I just never knew when.”
Two months ago, Reed lost her father. She said it was coaching that helped her get through those trying times.
“When you have a purpose bigger than yourself, it kind of takes you away from the negatives that go on in your life. Every day I wake up, it’s a struggle. Not having my father, not having a mom and my brother, dealing with a son one-on-one with type 1 diabetes with this type of environment. You have to get up and say , it’s bigger than me. I have a university that’s depending on our program. I have girls on our team that have gone through a lot in their years here at Jackson State, they’re depending on me and I have a son that looks up to me.”
Reed said her father’s passing also brought her closer to her players.
“They came together, they rallied together and said we’re going to do this for her dad. So, that situation made us a whole lot closer. They tell me from time to time coach we have your back, coach we love, we’re so lucky to have you here.”
And, she has a son who’s lucky to be able to watch his mom, coaching the sport she loves.
“To have my son at the games means a lot. It’s actually very bitter sweet situation because this profession is very demanding, very time demanding and a lot of times your kids or your loved ones sacrifice from with the time you have to put in this sport. My dad raised my son, helped raised my son uo until now, six years old. Being here, my son never really came to games, he was always at home getting ready for school. But, now to see him in the stands and to see him picking up on what we’re doing and what we’re teaching and to be in the gym, it’s a very good feeling, it’s a warm feeling and I really appreciate having his presence.”
“I was hired May 1st, but didn’t realize I was the head coach until my first game against Memphis. At Memphis, when I walked on the court and shook the hand of the head coach, who I’ve been watching all my life. I was like, ‘wow, I’m here.’