If Corin “Tiny” Adams is No. 1A in terms of enthusiasm about her new gig as an assistant coach for the Loyola Maryland men’s basketball program, Edniesha Curry might be No. 1B.
“I’m glowing,” said Curry, a staffer at the University of Maine who until Thursday had been the lone active woman to be a full-time assistant coach for an NCAA Division I men’s team. “I’m so excited. You have no idea how excited I am. It feels good to see other people, other women get their opportunities. She’s a damn good coach and a damn good teacher. She’s just a really good person, and I can’t wait.”
Adams was grateful for the support of Curry, who has been a mentor since the two met at the Final Four in Minneapolis in 2019. But Adams said her calm demeanor should not be mistaken for indifference.
“I’m not running down the block and screaming or anything like that, but I’ve been able to control my emotions,” she said. “I’m just waiting to get on the court and get on the sidelines and get to work.”
Thursday’s announcement by the Greyhounds made Adams, who turns 32 in November, the fifth woman to be hired as an assistant at the Division I level. She becomes the second female assistant coach in Baltimore after Stephanie Ready worked at Coppin State from 1999 to 2001.
Adams, however, said she doesn’t consider herself a trailblazer.
“I think I would consider Coach Curry and those before me as pioneers,” she said. “I’m just kind of following in their footsteps and just trying to build my own path and really excel in this industry. For me, male or female, it’s about the work that you do and people’s perceptions of you. I feel like to this day, I’ve been putting in a lot of the work to get this opportunity, and I’ve earned it.”
Women have been carving out paths in sports typically considered men-only pursuits. Since 2015, seven women hold assistant coaching roles in the NFL and 15 as coaching interns. On Sunday, Callie Brownson, chief of staff for the Cleveland Browns, Jennifer King, a full-year coaching intern for the Washington Football Team, and Sarah Thomas, an NFL official, were on the field for a game between Washington and Cleveland at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.
In the NBA, 14 women have worked as full-time assistant coaches, and 10 were on coaching staffs this past season. Loyola coach Tavaras Hardy said the influx of female coaches should no longer be shocking.
“This can become a lot more normal, and it should become a lot more normal,” he said. “We’re not doing it to be trendsetters. She was the right fit at the right moment for this job. So from her standpoint, she had aspirations to coach at this level, and she’s put the work in to get here, and the opportunity was well-earned and well-deserved.”
Hardy said Adams, a 5-foot-6 standout point guard who is still Morgan State’s all-time leader for both men and women in scoring, assists and steals and played professionally in 10 countries and U.S. territory Puerto Rico, first popped up on his radar shortly after he was named the head coach by the Greyhounds on March 28, 2018. Hardy said Adams sent him a copy of her book, “Tiny Setbacks, Major Comebacks,” with a note offering to fill any position on his staff.
After Freddie Owens left the staff in the offseason for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Hardy rediscovered Adams' book while cleaning his home office in August and called Bears men’s basketball head coach Kevin Broadus, who had hired Adams as a video coordinator last season.
“I asked him right away, ‘Tell me about Coach Tiny,’” Hardy said. “He had nothing but high praise. The fact that she worked with him and had been around — we play a similar brand of basketball, especially offensively — that was important to us. She also understands the total package and what it takes to be a college basketball coach, and she had a chance to learn from a great head coach. So that definitely played a role.”
Adams, who earned her nickname from her varsity head coach at James Madison High School in Brooklyn, New York, because of her 5-foot height, credited Broadus with allowing her to hone her craft with Morgan State players last winter. She is relying on that interaction to help her connect with the Greyhounds.
“I think the biggest thing whether you’re coaching men or women is establishing the trust and having that relationship,” she said. “If you can establish that trust and earn their respect, I don’t think there will be much of an adjustment. If they see the type of coach that I am and how passionate I am about basketball and helping student-athletes get better on and off the court, I think it will be an easy transition.”
Curry said the male-female dynamic as an obstacle in basketball is overstated.
“If you can get a player from A to B, he doesn’t care who you are,” said Curry, who has worked at Maine since 2018. “They just want to see their goals, and if you’re a woman and you can help them, fine. If you’re a man and you can help them, fine. Her adjustment will be just adjusting to being a full-time coach. We all have those adjustments with the rules and regulations. The basketball part is easy.”
Hardy, who said Adams' responsibilities will include player development, recruiting and offensive and defensive schemes, said her career at Morgan State and overseas would command respect from the players.
“Our culture is built on diversity and acceptance. So I never thought of that in terms of if she would be able to work with our players and recruit for our program,” he said. “I know in this business, with her being the second active woman, there’s going to be some challenges that come with that. But I also know that she’s prepared and that she’s ready. She’s been around the game. So she understands that she just has to be herself, and then she will be successful.”
Curry said Adams' presence means she will no longer have to deal with inquiries about being the only female assistant coach at the Division I level.
“I’m excited not to have to answer that question,” she said with a laugh. “I was like, ‘Yes, the media cannot ask me that question anymore!’ I’ve got a sidekick with me, I’ve got a partner.”
Adams, who resigned last week as a physical education teacher at a Baltimore-area school for children with special needs, said she “may cry again” after the university’s announcement and call her mother. But she predicted that reality would quickly set in.
“Once it’s announced, that just means that it’s time to work,” she said. “It’s official. It’s go time, and I’m just going to be ready to step foot on campus and in the gym and really work towards building that championship team that Coach Hardy wants.”
Thursday’s announcement by Loyola Maryland made Corin “Tiny” Adams the fifth woman to be hired as a full-time assistant coach for an NCAA Division I men’s basketball program. Here is who Adams, a former standout for the Morgan State women’s basketball team, joined:
Name; School; Years coached
Bernadette Mattox; Kentucky; 1990-1995
Stephanie Ready; Coppin State; 1999-2001
Jennifer Johnson; Oakland; 1999-2002
Edniesha Curry; Maine; 2018-present
Corin Adams; Loyola Maryland; 2020-present
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Source: Loyola Maryland athletics