Basketball coach committed to competition, relationships
Joial Griffith, Whitworth's new head women's basketball coach, knows the impact coaches can have on and off the courts. While she wants to lead her team to play a tough game, her greatest hope is to help her players grow as people.
"I remember the times I spent with my teammates and coaches, and the impact they had on me," Griffith says. "Having the opportunity to be an athlete is a special thing, but at the end of the day or the end of your four years, what kind of person are you and who have you grown into?"
This mindset is part of what made Griffith stand out in Whitworth's search for a new basketball coach. She is now in the middle of her first season leading the Pirates.
"The fans should expect this team to play an up-tempo brand of basketball," Griffith says, "where the women show toughness and hustle throughout the games, but also play for and with each other, while enjoying what they're doing."
As for the team's style of play, she says, "We play a pressure defense that causes disruptions for the opposing offense. By allowing our defense to fuel our offense, we can get out in transition first. This is where we are at our best."
Before coming to Whitworth, Griffith most recently was an assistant coach at Williams College in Massachusetts. Among other positions, she has also been an assistant coach at Concordia University Irvine, where the California native played for two years as a student-athlete.
Griffith is confident about the skills she's bringing to the court and has a game plan for developing the team underway.
"Part of the plan is already in motion – namely, getting to know my players on a human level and trying to help them in their growth process as they step into adulthood," she says. "The other part is recruiting student-athletes who would be a good fit for Whitworth and our basketball program."
Griffith is looking to recruit strong students who will help form the culture she desires for the team. "I want to encourage a culture within the women's basketball program where the standard is built on a commitment to developing relationships, accountability, integrity, communication, competitiveness and a high work ethic," she says.
Ultimately, Griffith looks forward to the challenge and privilege of directing Whitworth's women's basketball program.
"I'm truly blessed and honored to be at Whitworth and feel a call to be here. Even though I'm over 1,000 miles away from my family, I have felt a sense of community all across campus," she says. "I hope that I can be a positive influence in the athletic department and in the Whitworth community at large."