The New Queen of the Hive
Tenicha Gittens Set to Usher in New Era of Concordia Women’s Basketball
Eight years before she accepted the title as head coach of Concordia women’s basketball team, Tenicha Gittens was five months into a 9-to-5 desk-job-type internship in the U.S. when a thought crossed her mind. “I can’t do this,”
Twelve minutes away from her firm was Hofstra University, where Gittens had just graduated with a degree in business administration. She spent time with the basketball team for a season, but was limited due to stress fractures in both of her shins. She was told that if she over-exerted herself, her shins were going to break.
While Gittens did have aspirations to play basketball professionally in her younger days, her expectations were lowered as she got older. Playing seemingly wasn’t in the plans after graduation, despite having played for the national squad of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
But as she laboured at New England Financial, a marketing firm minutes away from happier times, the Montreal-native realized she was struggling with being away from the game of basketball.
“It was weird not being a part of a team,” she said. “It was weird not having your day planned out for you. Everything is organized. You’re told where you need to be, what time you need to be there, how you have to dress.”
“I definitely missed the game, and I decided that I was coming back home.” – Tenicha Gittens
It has now been eight years since Gittens left New England Financial and embarked on a coaching career that has taken her from the sidelines of St. George’s High School boys’ basketball team, an assistant coaching position with McGill’s women’s team and various coaching jobs with American universities, to her current job as head coach of Concordia’s women’s basketball team.
Following the departure of former coach Keith Pruden this summer, Gittens was appointed to the position last week. Having gained a great deal of basketball knowledge along her journey, she hopes to instill what she can to players back home in Montreal.
“I’ve always wanted to develop women’s basketball in Montreal,” said Gittens. “I knew I was going to back and build my own program for girls to teach them stuff that I’ve learned in the States,
“I didn’t know that I necessarily wanted to be the head coach of a university but I certainly know that I wanted to run my own program.”
Gittens’s drive stood out to Concordia Stingers Director of Recreation and Athletics Patrick Boivin.
“She’s extremely dynamic,” Boivin told The Link. “She’s extremely motivated. She’s a very hard worker as well.”
The new head coach will have a mountain to climb in her first year, however. As the women’s basketball season is fast approaching, both Boivin and Gittens realize there is work to be done regarding recruitment and both hold out hope that they can salvage whatever time is left in the off-season.
“In terms of recruiting the [women’s basketball] program’s been behind for a couple of years,” said Boivin. “There’s still some moves that can be done and she’s trying to work a couple of things out.”
“It’s harder [now] to get quality players that can really contribute right away,” said Gittens. “I don’t want to fall into the trap of just bringing in bodies just to say that I have a full roster,”
“We want to bring in the right student-athlete, quality kids on and off the court, that are going to be able to contribute right away,”
Boivin also said that Gittens is already looking to recruit players for the 2016-17 team, while Gittens says she’s spoken to players she’s recruited out of Montreal to play in the States.
Steps are being done to prepare the team for the future, but the goal is to the set the foundation for success in the present.
“It’s really about establishing what this program’s identity is going to be,” Boivin said when asked about his expectations for Gittens’s first year behind the bench. “Establishing the proper work ethics and the proper culture within the program. Identifying and making sure that the returning athletes and any new incoming athletes understand what’s needed for them to have success down the road.”
“I just expect us to work our asses off,” Gittens said. “Effort is non-negotiable, it’s expected. If [the players] do what they have to do individually, I’m going to prepare [them]; the staff is going to prepare [them].
“As long as we’re getting better. I don’t want any drop-offs. I just want us to consistently progress.”