Galloway’s girls’ basketball team has not only one, but two former WNBA players at its helm, with new coach Kiesha Brown and assistant Rita Williams taking the reins this season.
Brown is a nine-year WNBA veteran who also played in Europe and was also a standout on the college level at Georgia as well as in high school at Woodward.
Williams’ resume is no less impressive, having played six years in the WNBA from 1998 to 2004 as well as in the collegiate ranks for Connecticut from 1995 to ’98 as well.
It’s been so far, so good for Galloway’s new coaching regime, with the Lady Scots holding a 9-8 overall record and 4-5 mark in Region 5A.
“It’s really gone better than expected,” Brown said. “I have a history of adjusting to new situations, where I expect nothing and everything is a bonus, and that’s kind of how I’ve seen Galloway and being able to coach these young girls. It’s been a really, really good journey so far.”
Williams said she is also encouraged by how things have gone so far.
“It’s been really cool,” Williams said. “This is my first time coaching on any level, so the experience has been great so far and the girls have been extremely open to our teaching style — even though it’s been different from what they’ve learned in the past and they’ve been really open to it.”
Galloway athletic director Josh Burr said the school is excited about the arrival of Brown and Williams.
“The addition of Kiesha and Rita to our varsity girls’ basketball coaching staff has quickly created a buzz on campus and around the community,” Burr said. “Their ability to coach the game and relate to the girls, not to mention their experience as players, has made the difference this season. Kiesha and Rita have quickly become part of the Galloway program and I’m excited to see what the future holds for our girls’ basketball program and the entire athletics program.”
Brown enjoyed a long career in the professional ranks, playing in the WNBA from 2002 to ’10 for the Washington Mystics (’02-’05), the Houston Comets (’05), the New York Liberty (’06), the Minnesota Lynx (’07), the Los Angeles Sparks (’08), the Connecticut Sun (’09) and the Tulsa Shock (’10).
She also played in Europe during the WNBA offseason in the winter, playing in the Czech Republic, Spain, Turkey, Russia, Israel and France before retiring after the 2012 season.
“It was great,” Brown said. “I loved every bit of it. “A lot of people don’t think it’s a real job. But, it’s a real job, because we’ve got to get up every day and give 100 percent at work, we’ve got to deal with adjustments immediately — almost in the blink of an eye. We have to report to our boss, which so happens to be a coach or a general manager or the team president. We have to carry on good conduct as a professional.
“I had a ‘glamorous job’ for 11 years and I’ve taken these experiences of living in different cultures and having to adjust, playing with different types of personalities and succeed with that.”
Brown also had a very successful high school career at Woodward, where she led the War Eagles to the Class AAA state championship in 1995 and ’96 and a 62-0 record during those two years.
She went on to Georgia and enjoyed a successful run there despite missing most of her freshman season in 1996-97 and the entire ’97-98 campaign with a knee injury.
Williams played in the WNBA for the Washington Mystics in ’98 and ’99 as well as the Indiana Fever (’00-’02), the Houston Comets (’02) and the Seattle Storm (’03).
“I definitely look at it — for women, we didn’t have a league to aspire to play in like the guys do,” Williams said. “When it was the first year of the league [in ‘97], I was a senior [in college], so I came in with the second batch. So, to be there at the beginning, to do something that you love and to get paid for it, it’s a great feeling.”
Williams also played collegiately from ’95 to ’98 for legendary coach Geno Auriemma at UConn, where she was a second-team All-Big East selection as a senior in ’98.
Brown was named as the new Galloway girls’ basketball coach in August after spending a year at her high school alma mater Woodward working in the school’s communication department.
“It was so quick,” Brown said. “I’d been sending resumes all summer and [then-Galloway athletic director] Jim Hilleary called me and asked if I wanted to go for this position. All this happened the last two weeks in July.”
Brown proceeded to select Williams, who she knew through a mutual friend, as her assistant.
“[Galloway] gave me free rein for who I wanted to choose for my [assistant] coaching spot and I called Rita and asked her if she would be available, because she was dividing her time between Atlanta and Connecticut – which is her home state,” Brown said. “I told her there would be a learning curve, but there was an opportunity to lay a foundation to build something really good.”
Brown said the working relationship between her and Williams has gone well.
“We have a good time,” Brown said. “We’re intense when we need to be and we laugh and roll on the floor when they do something funny. I always wanted a program where if I’m not there, it’s going to be run just as efficient and you get that with someone like Rita. She sees things I don’t see and vice versa. It brings that much more strength to the program.”
For Williams, working with Brown has been a positive experience as well.
“It’s been great, because Kiesha and I play off of each other,” Williams said. “We want to build a great program at Galloway. It’s not something we’re trying to do just this year. We’re trying to build something special at Galloway.”