Taja Edwards: USC Assistant Coach

The 2015-2016 season marks the second for Coach Taja Edwards on the bench for The University of Southern California. A native of Long Beach, Calif. and a Fresno State Alumni, Coach Edwards began her coaching tenure at Ole Miss in the 2012-2013 season. Prior to her time at Ole Miss she began her own club team in Fresno where she trained players throughout the Central Valley of California. Coach Edwards is no stranger to championship programs as she helped Fresno State win the Western Athletic Conference all four years of her college career, advancing her team to the NCAA Tournament four times.

Quick Hitters:

  1. “Act like you have been there before.” It’s going to be a time of learning and developing but you have to have confidence within yourself to figure things out as you go and gain experience that helps you be successful moving forward
  2. It can be easy to be motivated by money at the higher levels of college athletics, however more money isn’t always going to equal the best life balance for your personal life and career.
  3. 15 minutes early is on time!
  4. As a young coach (especially when you are younger then a few of your players) it can be hard to hold people accountable but you have to find balance and stand strong.
  5. Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready! Work hard and focus at being the best you can be at your current job and it will prepare you for the next.
  6. It can be a misconception that you go to the final four and just bump into someone that wants to hire you. That can happen however if you don’t have an interview set up at the final four the chance aren’t great that you will walk away with a job. Don’t just bring your resume and expect to get a job but do go to the final four for professional development  and networking that will help you to become better.

Player to Coach Transition

Although others always told Coach Edwards that she would one day end up being a coach, it wasn’t until late in her playing career that she even began to consider where a coaching career could take her. With ambitions in marketing, music and communications she planned to leave the game of basketball behind and pursue other passions that were taking hold in her life. It wasn’t until her senior night in college when her Head Coach, Adrian Wiggins, gave a speech saying one day he was going to hire her as an assistant that she actually began to consider a career in coaching.

Little did Coach Wiggins know how prophetic that statement would be as he hired her only two short years later at Ole Miss. Her passion for coaching began to grow when she was directed to be in charge of motivating the players every single day with a quote of the day. From excelling in the motivational element of coaching, her role with Ole Miss began to grow and she became more a part of meetings and planning for the program. After a few staffing changes took place within the program Coach Edwards was soon promoted to being an assistant coach with the team as a 22 year old.

How did I do that? 

As a young coach who was quickly moved into an assistant coaching role from her video coordinator position at Ole Miss, Coach Edwards had to recall how she used her skills in the game to find success and translate that to her players so they could be successful. The transition from a player to a coach can be difficult because your impact on the team is incredibly different from the perspective of a coach compared to a player. You can’t be on the court and do things yourself anymore, you have to communicate to others how they can be successful and support them to execute and deliver on the court.

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