New Coach: Laquanda Quick
- By Mimi Mays, Associate Editor -
This July, Meredith hired Laquanda Quick as the new head coach for the Avenging Angels basketball team. Coach Quick, or Coach Q as her players call her, comes straight from an assistant coaching and recruiting coordination position at the University of West Florida. During her two years there, the team broke school records, won a regional championship and went to the Elite Eight—an honor in Division II basketball.
Before that, Coach Q had her first college coaching job at Winston-Salem State University, in the city where she was born and raised. She was initially a high school basketball coach, but once she got a taste of college coaching, she vowed to never go back to high school. Her current position at Meredith is her first time as a head coach of a college basketball team.
The StrongPoints pamphlet tacked to her office door lists “focus, learner, relator, individualization, restorative,” though readers and players alike m me that her sixth and seventh top strengths are “competition” and “strategic.”
Tell me a little bit about your own experience playing basketball.
So, I played four years at UNC-Chapel Hill—go Tar Heels. I was All-American there; basically the top 10 to 15 players in the country are given All-American status, so my jersey hangs up in the gym over there. I was a first-round draft pick in the WNBA, so I played two years in Portland and one year in San Antonio. I also played during the off-season, because WNBA is only four months in the summertime, so I played overseas in China, Israel and Turkey as well.
How was your time overseas?
It was fun; it was different…in Israel and Turkey I adapted a little better because most people spoke English, it was often their second language, but in China, everybody was speaking Chinese and nobody was speaking English. The only person who spoke English was my translator—an actual person that went places with me to translate for me. It’s a very difficult language. And it was kind of funny because I have this human being with me who obviously can’t be with me 24 hours a day, and sometimes I want to leave and go get food, so she would literally have to write on a piece of paper what I would show to the cab driver to take me into the city. And then you don’t really know what’s on the menu, so you just point and hope there are pictures. An interesting experience for sure.
What’s your favorite memory from playing basketball?
I was able to build some really genuine relationships with people. My college teammates are my best friends; these are people that were in my wedding, or people I go to for advice. So just the relationships I built were my most memorable things from playing.
How do you relate to your players?
I definitely see my players going through some of the things that I went through as a college athlete. Like, I have a couple of players who are struggling a little bit. I remember myself as a freshman, coming into college basketball, just kind of feeling a little overwhelmed, so I’m able to give them some empathy, knowing that it’s tough now, but you can get from Point A to Point B if you just keep working. So, I try to encourage them and let them know that they’re gonna get there, it might take some time, but don’t get frustrated. I’m gonna be hard on them and tough on them, but just try to see the bigger picture.
Tell me about your first day at Meredith and your first impressions.
The word excited comes to mind: everyone, from Dr. Jackson to Jackie Myers—the athletic director, the students I came into contact with, the staff at the student store, it was just amazing that everybody kind of knew who I was for the most part. Everyone was like, “we’re so excited that you’re here!” It was really great. It’s a little bit of pressure; obviously, people want the basketball team to be successful, so there’s a positive side but also a little bit of pressure behind it because they want you to get the job done. But I’m good with pressure.
What changes have you or will you make to the program?
I think we’re definitely going to make sure that our roster numbers are a lot higher than they have been in the past. I think it’s important to have more than 10 kids, but at the same time, you want it to be competitive. So if that means having a lower roster but having a competitive team, then that’s what I’ll do, but just to have the option of having more kids on the team would be nice. We’re working a lot on recruiting so that for the 2019 incoming class we can have a bigger roster.
What are your strategies for increasing those roster numbers?
For this year, I’m just trying to work with what I have. There’s nothing I can do about the roster size now, I can just make the most of it. But I’m putting in a ton of work for the future. I’m getting out there and watching the kids play and contacting them and emailing them and calling them. And when I increase numbers for basketball, it helps Meredith too because we’re bringing in quality kids: well-rounded students.
What’s something you’ve had to change about your coaching style coming to Meredith?
I haven’t had to change anything. I am who I am, which is a pretty laid-back person; I don’t let things get to me. When I step on the court in practice, yeah, I’m more intense, but I’m not demeaning to my players. I’m very encouraging to them, and I feel like everything that I’ve done in all the years that I’ve coached has led up to this point, and I’ve been very successful, so I don’t feel like I need to change. I feel like the kids appreciate that I’m different from previous coaches.
What do you foresee for this season? How are the players doing?
I think they’re doing very well. I think, when you first get into practice and you’re being taught new things, it slows you down a little bit—you’re moving quickly, and your brain is trying to take in all this information. But they’re doing a good job of improving throughout practice. I think that once it clicks in their brains, I’ll be able to see them really excel, but I see improvement every day in every drill. Even in the middle of a drill, when I give them some constructive criticism, I see them fix it.
Can we expect to see you back at Meredith next season or for years to come?
I like to take it one season at a time, but I know with my current family situation, it feels good to be in a place and in a position where I have flexibility. My son, and only child, is a freshman in high school and I’m able to support him and be around him here, so I think until he graduates from high school at least, this is the place where I can see myself. Obviously, every year you have to reevaluate and see how things are going, but I really would like to be here for a long time.
What are the biggest motivators for you in your work or personal life?
I’m motivated by challenges. This job, and the win-loss record overall over the last several years here at Meredith, I see as a challenge. The roster numbers being down is a challenge for me to go out and get quality kids, and I just like the challenge of all things. That’s what motivates me. I don’t like things that are too easy—it’s fun to me to challenge myself to get better and challenge others to get better.
What can you be found doing when you’re not at work coaching?
Hanging out with my family. I spent the last few years away from them while I was coaching in Pensacola, so I try to spend as much time with them as I can.
What would someone be surprised to learn about you?
I’m addicted to Candy Crush. All of them. Soda Saga, regular Candy Crush, the Candy Crush Friends that they just came out with…I love puzzle games and things where they make it tough for you and you have to keeping trying until you beat that level.