While Howard University women’s basketball didn’t get to go dancing this year, the Bison do have something to sing about. Assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Jeanne-Marie Wilson was honored on the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Thirty Under 30 list. Thirty Under 30 was created to recognize up-and-coming women’s basketball coaches aged 30 and under who have exemplified community service, mentorship, impact on others, professionalism, and professional association involvement.
“It’s an honor and a blessing because when you get into season and you do a lot of work, the long hours, it’s being recognized,” said Wilson, who grew up just outside of Washington, DC in Prince George’s County, Maryland. “This is an opportunity for me to feel good that I’m actually doing the things that my boss is asking me to do and helping the program get better.”
Wilson is big on building relationships. She loves mentoring young women and seeing their growth as players and people. As a recruiting coordinator, she meets a lot of families, which she finds uplifting. This is especially meaningful at an HBCU. When Wilson was deciding where to play her college basketball, she passed up offers from predominantly white institutions and intentionally played at Saint Augustine’s, an HBCU in North Carolina.
“I am a student of the game,” Wilson said. “A lot of people may say they like the Xs and Os or they like to watch film. I like coaching because of the fact I’m able to impact young women’s lives. Mine is not necessarily daily duty stuff, it’s things that people can take in, learn from, and grow from.”
Last year, Howard earned a spot in the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament, winning its first game. Wilson said it was emotional for her because of her background in the DMV area. When she was growing up, Howard was known for its academic excellence, but it wasn’t necessarily mentioned in sports conversations. For her to be part of Coach Ty Grace making herstory was amazing. The hunger to excel was exhilarating, and she considers Grace a mentor.
“I tell her, ‘You can’t fire me because I’m still going to show up to work,’” Wilson said. “I would not work under another head coach if they’re not like her. She’s so understanding, so authentic, so compassionate, she’s so real. She will give you really hard criticism, but she’s going to teach you and show you how to be better. If you ask anybody, not just on her staff, they’re going to say the same thing.”