With Missouri Western women’s basketball, the team has come across a new head coach and member of the team, Candace Whitaker.
Whitaker has coached at D1 universities; Oklahoma State University, Texas Tech and UMKC.
With Whitaker coming to Missouri Western, from her home state of Texas, she has been able to produce a strong bond and chemistry with the overall team and staff. Whitaker has noticed the same in her own team as well.
“Everything’s different when you have a new head coach and a new staff, and the team, they’ve really embraced change and have really gotten on board, so I give them a ton of credit,” Whitaker said. “To embrace a coaching change, it can be a really difficult thing, but they’ve been fantastic.”
With having a new head coach, seniors Anastacia Johnson and Simone Walker foresaw a challenge with the differences, but the overall team has been able to adapt to the change and has grown to love it and see it as a huge benefit towards everything.
“She’s different. She definitely pushes us really hard,” Johnson said. “She has very high expectations, and I think we also read off of that, and I think that’s why we’re so successful this year.”
With players returning from the last season, the Griffons have seen a huge difference with not only the overall coach, but mainly with last year’s and this year's coaches differences in guidance, especially seeing the difference so quickly.
“It’s very noticeable,” Walker said. “Last year, we were more slowed down, we’re not the shot clock. This year, it’s fast paced, she wants us up and down. I think it’s just time for a new system.”
Though with having a new coach, the overall team and Johnson included didn’t want to agree to the fact of having a new head coach, especially being a female.
“I know the girls from last year and myself included, we didn’t really want a female coach because we’re females, and we just feel like they wouldn’t really understand, and we were just coming up with so many excuses,” Johnson said.
After all the doubt, the team has seen what Whitaker has brought and intended to bring to the team in regards to coaching, but also the overall bond.
“She gets here and it’s like, wow, we love her,” Johnson said. “We were wrong, and I think they’ve made a good decision bringing her in. She knows what she’s talking about, she’s had the experience of playing before, and she just understands us. She treats us like her own kids.”
With not only the team needing to make adjustments, but the head coach as well with having to adapt to new things coming up at random times, Whitaker has seen it as an opportunity to better herself, use the tactics that are in front of her and sources around her as well.
“I think every job you have has great strengths and all of them have challenges to overcome and that’s no matter where you are,” Whitaker said. “It’s in a matter of using your resources to the best of your ability, utilizing, putting your players in the best situations and recruiting, really selling the great things about the university that you’re at. So, if you see everything as a positive and even your challenges are great things to make you better and push the program forward, then that’s how you do it.”
With the unexpected approaching the team and coach at such a fast pace, they’ve all been able to use all the time they have together, on and off the court to get used to the change for the better, resulting into not only the current record this year, but as well as the current relationship the overall team has been able to construct and keep alive as the days go by.
Missouri Western women’s basketball team is close to an end of the season with eight games left with the current record of 18-6 and a two-game winning streak after the loss of 70-69 against University of Central Oklahoma coming back with a win 70-59 against Newman University and a second one 72-53 against Lincoln University of Missouri. The Griffons recently beat UCM 67-57 last but lost to Pittsburg State 74-71 last Wednesday.
They rebounded and beat Missouri Southern 65-61 this past Saturday.