Triawna St. Germaine is a high school basketball coach who hopes to inspire the next generation of female basketball players and coaches. Following her collegiate basketball career as a Keyano Husky, Triawna returned to the court as a coach. She shares herStory with us of falling in love with sports and now making an impact on girls and women in sports.
Can you take us back through who young Triawna was and your journey into and through sports?
An ambitious, competitive tom boy who wanted to always play sports, do activities and show I was just as good as the boys. My brother originally got into basketball first and after I saw him play I said “I can do that”. So I got into basketball and it has always been my first love.
My love for other sports was always there, as I played soccer, volleyball, rugby, track and field, golf and many others. I played different sports for different reasons. They all made me feel different and the variety of joy they all brought me in different ways was something I needed. I think a lot of that was to do with the coaches I encountered in my youth but I just really love (and still do) all different sports.
Basketball stuck with me most because I found it to be the most challenging. You had to be proficient at everything; passing, shooting, defense and offense, plus more. I just knew there was always something to work at, in regards to my own game and skills.
What do sports mean to you and how have they shaped your life?
Everything. It is one of the central identifying factors of myself. I say that because of what sports, as a whole, have been able to give me and teach. I have been given life long friends, a strong sense of work ethic, accountability, an education I would not have been able to afford on my own, real life skills (too many to name). The list can go on, but I really do believe that involvement in sports and activity, early in the youth stages, helps children prepare and transition to adulthood.
What’s the biggest reward you get from coaching young women?
Hands down, the relationships. I can honestly say my love for coaching far exceeds my love for playing the game. And the funny thing is, I never really thought of myself as a coach. Being able to see a young woman’s journey in her three years of high school is something I hold close to my heart. You can see the growth as a player but more importantly, as the person.
Sports are not an easy thing all the time. I really think there is a preconceived idea that what these young women do is easy. It’s hard and I know that because I’ve experienced that as a young woman playing highly competitive basketball in high school. The truth is there are days when you feel like you want to quit (among a variety of other emotions) but after those low moments, those young women make the choice to be resilient and come back to that gym the next day. And work harder.
That is one of the most admirable things to witness as a coach and mentor. It reaffirms that you’re doing and teaching them the right things and that they trust you to continue THEIR sports journey with you. That is just one example of the growth and transformation we get to see.
What’s the best advice you can offer other coaches, especially those trying to make an impact on girls and women in sports?
Get to know your players. Like really get to know them. Know how they learn, figure out their response to conflict, figure out the tools they need to succeed, etc. Young women are so impressionable, more than ever before. All those things you learn about them will help you be able to coach them in a way they need, yet get the most of them so they can succeed—in all aspects.
Also, let them know you’re human: Admit to your mistakes, talk to them one on one, turn off coaching mode when practice or the game ends, show them other sides of you (humor, emotion, etc.), be there for them when they need it. It’s the little things (and I’m sure everyone in the sports world has heard that quote but it’s so true). We preach “It’s the little things”, but if we don’t set the example by showing that in our actions, how will they follow?
How would you like to see the sports world change for women and girls?
More female leadership representation. That is where we still struggle. If we can’t represent more women in leadership roles, how will the female youth of these times be able to visualize themselves in a role like that? We are doing better, but it is still a fight of equity and equality. Once we can get past that, it then shifts to a new age of women in coaching. It becomes about the coach’s knowledge, talents and skills that are focused on, not “It’s a women doing it, so that’s awesome”. It will become “Wow she knows her stuff”, and that will never (hopefully) come into question again.
As well, young women will shift in how they think about their female leaders they deal with on a daily basis. Historically, women were pitted against each other, which resulted in learning that attitude even at a young age. So when young women talk about their male coaches, they refer to them as “mean”. But when young women talk about their female coaches, you often hear the word “b*tch”. We have to break that cycle and start empowering each other. Then it becomes healthier and more plausible.
What’s the biggest piece of advice you would offer other girls and women in sports?
The lows come with highs. Anything that is worth having or achieving is not easy. Trust the process and it will guide you. It will guide you through the bad and the good but with that experience in itself, will prepare you for more than you know.