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TJC’s Trenia Tillis-Hoard joins Team USA’s junior basketball coaching staff

TJC Apache Ladies head basketball coach, Trenia Tillis-Hoard has been named to the 2023 USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team coaching staff.

March Madness is officially in the rearview, but women’s basketball is still basking in its glow after a record-breaking NCAA tournament. Nearly 10 million people tuned in for the NCAA women’s basketball final, doubling last year’s audience.

TJC Apache women’s head coach Trenia Tillis-Hoard was in the building during championship weekend, not to watch the games, but to help coach in the first USA basketball Women’s Junior National Team minicamp.

“Every time I think I’ve gotten to the highest high, I go to a higher high,” Coach Tillis-Hoard said. “And with perseverance, it just keeps rolling out.”

Coach Tillis-Hoard is adding to her resume and has been named to the 2023 USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team coaching staff.

“A small town girl getting to be in this kind of environment, that’s huge.” Coach Tillis-Hoard expressed. “It’s huge and I’m just so honored.”

Tillis-Hoard has been with Tyler Junior College since 2000, winning the NJCAA Division I Women’s National Basketball Championship in 2022 and being named the Junior College Women’s Coach of the Year that same season.

“When I took the job, my athletic director at the time, Coach Peterson, had come into the office like 3:30 in the morning,” Tillis-Hoard said. “He said, when they were hiring me, someone told him I wouldn’t do the work to keep the program going. But I didn’t use it as friction, I used it as fuel. I said, you know what, they might have said that. However, I have the opportunity to be absolutely different from what was expected of me.”

Some say different, others say chosen, chosen to do what other coaches can only dream of. According team USA head basketball coach, Dan Rolfes, this is a lifetime achievement.

“It’s the pinnacle of coaching,” Rolfes said. “Just having USA on the front of your jersey, you’re representing your country and to me there’s is no bigger honor than that.”

This summer, coach Tillis-Hoard will sit one seat over from Rolfes as he makes his USA Basketball head coaching debut. He previously was a court coach for the 2017 USA Women’s U16 National Team, where he met Trenia. 

“Dan was a court coach with me the last time we were there and Dan was probably one of my favorite people.” Tillis-Hoard said. “When it finally came up that we’d be coaching together, I got so excited and texted him immediately.”

Rolfes has led Incarnate Word to 12 state championships, including six consecutive titles from 2017-2023. Under Rolfes, the program has won 100 consecutive games. You know what they say, birds of a feather…

“We just hit it off right from the beginning and honestly, I don’t know who she doesn’t hit it off with,” Rolfes said. “She’s an amazing person, awesome to be in the gym with and honestly a lot of fun to hang out with after. Off the court, she’s just a great personality with great one liners. She’s always got me laughing.”

She’s a pleasure to coach with and a journalist’s dream, according to Tyler Morning Telegraph Sports Editor Phil Hicks, who’s covered Tillis-Hoard her entire career.

“She is straightforward, which a journalist loves,” Hicks said. “She’ll give you what’s going on with the scoop and she doesn’t hide anything, and she’s very open.”

No stranger to the big stage, Tillis-Hoard also served as a court coach for the 2001 World University Games.  

“Team USA couldn’t have picked a better person for this because she recognizes talent and character,” Hicks said. She’ll develop and help them get to be even better players.”

Trenia Tillis-Hoard started in a time where women’s basketball wasn’t as popular as it is today, but she laid the blueprint and broke barriers for not just women, but women of color.

“All I want to do is leave a legacy that people say Trenia Tillis-Hoard was at Tyler Junior College and she made her mark,” the coach said. “She didn’t embarrass the program, she won but  didn’t try and win at all costs, we didn’t have to cheat to do it. And that’s the legacy I want to leave.”

Coach Tillis-Hoard will travel with the team this summer, but it’s just adding to her already busy schedule. The TJC coach is set to be inducted into the 2023 Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame in May.

Source: CBS19