WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – The Northwood University (Fla.) women's basketball program has hired former University of Tennessee standout Courtney McDaniel as Head Women's Basketball Coach. After seasoning in the high school ranks, McDaniel assumes her first head coaching job in helming the Lady Seahawks. She will inherit a team who posted a 14-15, 7-7 in Sun Conference play, and advanced to the Final Four of the Sun Conference tournament.
"I'm very blessed actually," said McDaniel. "Coach [Pat] Summitt always told me I would make a good coach one day and I've taken those words as motivation and pursued my passion for the game, which has now led me to Northwood. I want to help these girls be as successful as they can, on and off the floor, and that's my main focus right now. Just making sure that I'm instilling character and helping them build their character and prepare them for life outside of basketball. This is a great experience, I've only been coaching in high school and AAU, so it's been humbling and a true blessing. It's been engaging and challenging, but I'm ready to meet that challenge and continually grow as a coach. I'm ready to take this journey and accept all challenges head on. Will I be perfect? No, but through mistakes I can only get better and I'm only going to fail forward and continue to work hard, so my players see that and not back down."
"I'm excited to have someone of Courtney's experience, in terms of playing experience and network, become a part of our program," said Northwood Director of Athletics Nick Davidson. "As a whole, she'll be a great fit for the women's program moving forward. We are excited for Mark [Sanford] to have his opportunity and we appreciate all that he has done for us, but we are also excited to move forward into the next chapter of our Women's Basketball program. Coach McDaniel is an incredibly hard worker, she's very good with developing players on and off the court, and she's a very good, young coach that has the potential to be a great coach, and we think that her hard work and abilities will bring a lot to the Northwood program."
A star at Tennessee High School, Courtney received her share of honors during her high school career, being named USA Today All-American Honorable Mention along with Nike and L'adidas All-American. She was selected as the USA Today and Gatorade Player of the Year in Tennessee, as well as four-time Northeast Tennessee Basketball Player of the Year. McDaniel was ranked as the #39 prospect in women's high school basketball, earning a scholarship to the University of Tennessee, becoming the first in-state recruit to be signed since 1994.
"I'm most excited to see these girls be successful, that's number one," continued McDaniel. "We have a few seniors who I want to go on and do great things. Any way I can help them or help be a part of it, encourage them to never give up on any dream they have and always go chase it. I've been chasing this dream of being a college coach for a while, ever since I stopped playing, and there were hard times and trials, but I never gave up and took every opportunity I had, and accept responsibility of everything I needed to do to get to where I am now, and I want to instill that into the team. They are starting to see what I require from them, not only physically but outside the court and in the classroom. I just want to see them be successful and grow each year that I have them, and have us to put some things together on the floor to put ourselves in the best possible situations to win, be successful and have a successful program."
At the University of Tennessee, McDaniel was a key contributor during her four-year run, which featured three Final Four appearances, and two National Championship runner ups. Courtney became a favorite of the Lady Volunteers crowd due to her hustle and all-out playing style. As a sophomore, Courtney registered 13 rebounds in just 14 minutes of play, earning the nickname "Minute Maid" by her fans. After four successful seasons in Knoxville, Courtney earned her Bachelor's degree in Psychology, in only seven semesters, while maintaining a 3.3 GPA.
"Everything I learned during my playing days, the good and the bad, and the things I feel like I could've done better, I want to harp on them and instill in them so they don't make the same mistakes I made back then. And the successes I've had, I want to give that to them so they can be just as successful. I had an amazing experience at Tennessee, I learned a lot, and my purpose is to give back and that's why I stopped playing professionally and started coaching. I want to give back everything I had out of that experience to someone else, who may not have the opportunity to play at that program or on that level, but they are doing the best they can with the talents they have."
While playing at Tennessee, Courtney began working as a camp counselor for the Tennessee basketball camp, a top-rated basketball camp run by iconic University of Tennessee Head Coach Pat Summitt, the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history. After three years with the camp, McDaniel began her coaching road, returning to Tennessee High School as an Assistant Varsity Coach. After a year of coaching, she began playing professionally in Ireland with the Limerick University Aughinish Basketball Club from 2005-2008. While playing Limerick, she guided the team to a National Cup championship game and was named Most Valuable Player of the championship game. Courtney was honored as one of the best female American players in Ireland, named to the All-Irish Super League and All-Imports Team, as well as Forward of the Year in 2007. During her off-season, McDaniel returned to the coaching realm at Christian Academy of Knoxville as an Assistant Coach, along with serving as a personal trainer with Performance Training Incorporated and hosting the Courtney McDaniel Basketball Clinics.
When asked about the possibility of seeing some plays out of Coach Summitt's playbook, McDaniel responded, "I always hold on to every play that I've ever ran, from third grade up to college, I have them and if the personality fits, of course. Obviously [Coach Summit's] stuff works, and she's the greatest coach ever, in my book."
In 2009, McDaniel founded the Tennessee Team Hustle and later started the Tennessee Attack Girls AAU Basketball Organization, serving as Director and CEO and coached the 14U team to the 2009 Tennessee AAU Sub-State Tournament. One year later, Courtney joined as Director and Coach of the Tennessee Flight Select Girls Basketball Organization, where she coached the team to a third place finish in the 2010 Tennessee AAU Sub-State Tournament. McDaniel returned to the high school ranks as an Assistant Girls Basketball Coach at Gatlinburg Pittman High School, and then moved on to Greenback High School the following year to take her first high school head coaching job. Courtney guided Greenback to a 10-14 record with an appearance in the District 3A tournament. In 2013, her AAU team advanced to the Final Four in the Tennessee AAU tournament, and had a Top-20 finish at the AAU National Tournament.
"This team will do what is required of them to be a great team. They'll work hard, push each other, encourage each other, when someone's not 'holding the rope', let them know about it. They've bought into that in the short amount of time we've been together, and I think they realize it's starting to pay off. They've done a great job of all trying to be leaders, whether it's by example or vocally. They've been working extremely hard every day, pushing through the pain, increasing their mental toughness, and they do it together. They don't leave anyone hanging and that's what it's about, they are being a great team early. The key to our success will be how mentally tough and committed they can be, and they've been challenged since I've been here. They're not in the shape they need to be in yet to play the way I want to play, which is up-and-down, get up and get in somebody defensively, but they are getting there. They are starting to realize this conditioning is for a reason, and they are beginning to see the results of their effort. We are going to win some games on our mental toughness and heart alone. We have some great shooters, and I just want to make sure I put them in the best position to win and provide them with the best system that will allow them to play confidently to their individual strength. It's going to make me tweak some things, educate myself even more, and learn some new things to give to them. I told them that I want to be the best I can possibly be for them, and that's what I'm going to do every single day. I'm very committed to ensuring their success to each of my players, our program and to Northwood!"