Photo by Barry Burleson
Rodgers new MA girls coach
Traci Rodgers left a legacy on the Marshall Academy basketball court as a player. Now, she’s ready to do the same as a coach.
The 2009 MA graduate is returning to her alma mater to lead the Lady Patriots.
“I felt at some point I would come back,” said Rodgers, 26. “I just didn’t feel like it would be this early.”
She is one of the top scorers in school history, with 2,625 career points. In her senior season, playing for coach Craig Dailey, the Lady Patriots went 35-10 and finished as the Class AA state runners-up.
“Coach Dailey taught me to see the bigger picture – that it’s not all about basketball,” she said. “The biggest takeaway from having him as an influence in my life was the importance of applying basketball to life skills.”
After graduating from Marshall, Rodgers played four years for Mississippi College in Clinton. After getting her college degree and working some part-time jobs, she launched her coaching career at Hillcrest Christian School in Jackson. She has worked at Hillcrest the past three years.
“I’ve found that seeing the game as a player and as a coach are totally different,” she said. “As a player, I believe I saw the game well. But I see it with a different perspective from the sideline. It’s been an adjustment for me – not actually being on the floor.”
Rodgers said talking with MA headmaster Barrett Donahoe sealed the deal as far as coming home.
“He let me know his vision for the girls’ program and it lined up with mine and what I wanted to do as a coach,” she said. “I wanted to be at a place where my goals are the same as the headmaster’s.”
Donahoe said Rodgers is a “fantastic fit” for his vision for Marshall Academy.
“She brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm,” he said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for her, and I think she is going to be great.”
Rodgers will also serve as an assistant softball coach, teach some physical education classes and have other classroom responsibilities.
“I think it’s important for us to have a full-time staff member on campus who will be a tremendous influence on our female athletes and hold them accountable,” she said. “I know Traci will show a commitment to all aspects of Marshall Academy.”
Rodgers, who also played softball and ran track during her days at Marshall, said she will encourage MA athletes to enjoy the experience of high school – all sports, the classroom and extracurricular activities.
“Do as much as you can and learn as much as you can, without stretching yourself too thin,” she said about her philosophy.
She admits she’s a little nervous returning to a place to coach where her photo hangs on the wall due to her on-the-court success.
“I’m excited and nervous, but a good kind of nervous,” said Rodgers, the daughter of Tommy and Vicki Rodgers of Slayden. “It’s great to have this opportunity. I told Coach Donohoe, for some reason I feel like I have unfinished business, as far as leaving a legacy.”
The Lady Patriots are the defending Class AA state champions. Rodgers said she will be finishing up her work at Hillcrest, and as soon as the school year is over, she will begin summer work with her new team.
“I’ve been a Patriot all my life,” she said. “I’m looking forward to coming home.”