In her first week since joining the Dallas Wings, we sat down with Assistant Coach Taj McWilliams-Franklin to get to know her both on and off the court. From her experience as a WNBA player to her life with her family, here’s how Assistant Coach McWilliams-Franklin looks to make an impact with the Wings.
How excited are you to be coaching for the Dallas Wings?
I’m super excited to not only be in the WNBA again, but to be part of the young and upcoming Dallas Wings. I love Texas and I want to be part of bringing a WNBA championship to DFW.
What do you bring that will help the Dallas Wings excel on the court?
I think my versatility as an ex-post player and a hard-nosed defender will not only help Coach Williams but the young women on the team as well. As a coach I am just as focused and intense as I was as a player, and I bring that passion and fierceness to everything that I do with coaching. I believe anything worth doing is worth doing passionately. I hope to help Coach Williams and Assistant Coach Bridget Pettis with the post and defensive presence. I want to bring anything that Coach Williams needs from me to help the team be successful.
How has your past experiences as a WNBA player helped you succeed as a WNBA coach?
I hope I am able to help the current WNBA players understand and embrace their individual greatness in order to build the excellence of our team. I think I can help them understand how to handle the pressure, the road life, and handling their business.
As a former player, what’s the one piece of advice you would recommend to the team to help them succeed as professional athletes?
I think the main piece of advice is to make sure you take care of your brand. In professional athletics, your body is your brand, so put your nutrition, strength and conditioning, player development and therapy at the top of the list of things to take care of because in order to be a great player, you must have everything in order in your life.
What does the WNBA mean to you?
Opportunity. The WNBA gave me an opportunity to be a professional athlete in the USA after the ABL folded. It gave me the opportunity to earn income in Europe and be a member of the USA national team. To me, it is the opportunity to be a speaker, a coach, a teacher, a mentor and a sister to so many people. I can be a guiding force for young girls and boys on how to become a professional athlete and still be accessible to those same young people.
What’s the one thing you look forward to doing in the Dallas-Fort Worth area?
Finding somewhere to live and visiting the different restaurants all over that huge area. My hubby Reggie and I love food and we love trying different things within reason (I do not eat pork or Tex-Mex). I also look forward to getting to know everyone in the organization and being part of what the Wings are doing in the community as well.
Having ties in Texas, what will it mean to you to be back in the Lone Star State?
Where do I start–I miss Texas. The weather, the people, the land, and the little bit of country little bit of city attitude. I’ve never spent a lot of time in the DFW region, so it will be my first time being part of this community long-term. I am so excited to be back in Texas.
How do you handle life as a mom, wife and coach?
It is hard to answer that question in one page, I think I should write a book about this. I was one of the first basketball players to become a mother. I had my first child in my first year of college in 1988. Back then, no one had the answers to a single parent in college playing basketball. St. Edward’s handled this situation well, and that’s why I am forever grateful for my career there and Coach McKey and Dr. Hayes.
I handle all distinct parts of me the best way I can. I apologize a lot because I fall short, and I am thankful to God that I have a best friend, husband and partner in crime. Reggie is the ying to my yang. He’s the quiet sensible one to my wild passionate self. He calms me down and riles me up. That is how everything works. You cannot have one thing out of whack, because the rest fall apart. If you do not have a loving spouse and teamwork (to make the dream work), then the rest falls apart. I cannot be a good coach or a good mother or a good wife without his understanding, love and help. God gives us the tools and we follow the blueprint that so many other multi-faceted couples have done.
With everyone in your life, you have to find the balance. If one thing tips the scale the wrong way, something else will fall off. I work my hardest to be the best wife, mother, and coach that I can be and pray that it is good enough.
What are you most passionate about?
I am passionate about helping young women and young men reach their full potential. I am super passionate about being a positive force for good in a world where so many things go wrong. I speak to groups about facing challenges head on and overcoming and triumphing in life no matter what situation you have to come back from.
I am passionate about basketball and its growth and joy it brings to people everywhere. It is a universal language (of sorts) and it should be spread and grown because it bridges us together when languages and customs and colors separate us.
How does it feel to be back, as part of the team you once played for and being part of franchise history?
This is a new team to me, far removed from the Detroit Shock of the WNBA. I feel this is a new team and the ownership group and players have made this the Dallas Wings. That era was great, and one I look back on fondly as it was my first championship. This is a new time, a new era to make new memories. The Dallas Wings are making new memories and new believers so I’m ready to get on board!