New Season, New Coaches: A Glimpse into Bellarmine Girls Basketball

For decades the Bellarmine Girls Basketball program has shared major success. From making state five consecutive seasons to holding 11 league titles, the program has been prolific. After every coaching change people held their breaths until, time and time again, success continued. This season there are several coaching changes, as only one former coach remains. Cheryl Bishop will lead the Varsity Lady Lions, Tawanna Wilson will continue with the junior varsity team, and Makiah Reed will coach C-team. With a plethora of changes right before the season, the program all around was hectic. 

As for the new coach, Bishop will have big shoes to fill. She will be replacing Kim West who helped the team to 65 league and post season wins throughout her four seasons as head coach. Although new to Bellarmine, Coach Bishop has experience. She previously coached at Roosevelt High School in Seattle for three years before coming to the hill. After being asked about what she hopes for her first season she said, “In terms of goals for this year we want the program to continue its winning tradition, for the team to have a lot of fun and play an exciting style of basketball, but winning comes second. The growth and development of all the young girls, learning life skills that they feel support them, and contributing to that personal growth is what the entire coaching staff puts first and foremost.”

Bishop said, “Bellarmine is an amazing school and I think their mission is inspiring. I often tell my players that based on the interactions I have had with the students here, they are just a little bit cut above because of things like their character, the way they conduct themselves, and their faith based inspiration. I was super honored to have the opportunity to coach here.”

In addition to Bishop, Kabre Keller and Lonnie Walker, formerly from Annie Wright, will be joining the varsity staff. Bishop spoke for them saying, “They both have been coaching for quite a while and have worked with various teams and young athletes— they both bring a wealth of experience to the table. They love the Bellarmine mission and believe in it just as strongly as I do.”

Holding down the fort is Wilson, who is the only returning coach. Now entering her fourth year as a Bellarmine coach, Wilson said, “I feel like this change is going to potentially be a good change for the program. I think what Coach Bishop has to bring to the girls is a lot of structure on top of the ability to not only play the game well but to learn the game well, and also having this push on us to just be women athletes and what that looks like.”

The new coaching staff will have a lot of getting to know each other, including new C-Team coach Makiah Reed. From 2016-2019, Reed was a three-year varsity point guard. During the 2019-20 season she was out for a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury, or ACL, and was limited to supporting from the sidelines.

Reed now returns to the hill to coach, and said, “I’m just super glad to be back here at Bellarmine. I loved playing here all four years but to come back is really special because I get to return to the program that really meant so much to me when I was here.”As for her first coaching gig she said, “I want to help them develop the essence of teamwork and make sure they know that their teammates will be with them this whole season and they will become your best friends and you will be able to trust them on and off the court. Just creating that bond and those special relationships that are like no other.’

Unsurprisingly, players held opinions of joy, which was evident in the chorus of girls getting ready in the locker room before practice. Freshman Stella Wiggins said, “I’m honestly just very excited. I love basketball a lot and I’m very excited to just be playing, since we haven’t been able to this last year because of COVID.”

Returning Varsity player Abbie Crist said, “I am very excited because it’s going to be a completely new dynamic for everything this year— they’re changing how it’s been in the past. Everything is new, everything is different so I’m just excited to see what this new team can pull off and what this whole new side of Bellarmine basketball looks like.”

New to varsity, senior Jo Archbold said, “Given the fact that I wasn’t on varsity until this year, I was never coached directly by the previous head and assistant coaches, but I think change is always exciting. I loved Coach West but I’m super excited to see what Coach Bishop has to offer.” 

Spirits are high in the Booster and Names gyms as the girls are set out to begin practice for their winter season. The program we all know and love will continue to grow just as all other programs in the Bellarmine institution do, and students, faculty, families, and the larger community are excited to return to campus and watch the Lions take on this 2021-2022 season.