Five years ago Suzzette Suggs was just a basketball fan sitting in the stands watching the St. Joseph Catholic School girls basketball team play a game.
She was immediately drawn to how hard the girls were playing, but she also saw they needed help learning the game. Once the game was over she decided to say a few nice words of encouragement to the players and coaches on the Fighting Irish.
Coach Suggs, a basketball star at Coffeeville High School who also played at the collegiate level, wanted the St. Joe girls to know that they had the potential to be a quality team if they kept working hard at it.
The St. Joseph players and coaches liked the positive and instructive message Coach Suggs was telling them, and soon asked her to volunteer as an assistant on the team.
Even though Coach Suggs did not know anyone on the team personally, and even though she was just beginning a promising career of her own, Coach Suggs said she had to help.
“I love the game, and if I can teach what I know to these players then it is something that I feel I am called to do,” Coach Suggs.
Five years later Coach Suggs is still coaching strong at St. Joseph.
During the daytime, Coach Suggs is a director at Annie’s House in Cleveland, which is a residential home for disabled citizens. Coach Suggs then drives to Greenville, where she lives, to coach the Fighting Irish in the afternoon.
Now in her fourth season as the head coach of the Fighting Irish Coach Suggs and her players are starting to see all their hard work pay off.
Heading into their game Friday night against Greenville Christian School, St. Joe had a 6-5 record. This is the best start for a Fighting Irish team in over a decade, the coach said.
The Fighting Irish are led this season by players like Ashanti Brown, TyKira Rancifer, Cha’Koriea Holmes, Skylar Harden and Alyssa Simpson.
“The best part of this team is the hustle they have shown,” Coach Suggs said. “They are willing to fight through adversity. I have been with these girls for a while now, and they have been willing to learn the sport.”