Reflecting on my first year as a head coach - Joni Taylor


When I think about the past year at the University of Georgia — my first as head coach — blessed is the word that keeps popping into my head. I’m blessed beyond measure, first of all, to be married to a wonderful, Godly man like Darius; to coach alongside great friends who understand the demands of this job; and to mentor so many beautiful young women every day. There are truly no words to describe how wonderful this past year has been, but let me try.

So where do I begin? I start by saying thank you to everyone who had a part in not only making this a successful season, but also for helping and guiding me along the way. From my parents and other family members to friends and colleagues — there are so many people who have influenced my life and played a part in where I am today. It sounds cliché, but without them, none of this is possible.

Professionally, April 12, 2015, is a date I will never forget.  When I think about that day and being named the next head coach of Georgia basketball feel a whirlwind of emotions. And now looking back, who knew at that time just how much fun this past year was going to be?

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a planner and a perfectionist to the core. Darius and I always joke that we are going to make a plan and God is just going to laugh. Well, he is for sure laughing now. Looking back, though, it is so easy to see how God’s plan for my life over the past 12 months worked out into something special and unpredicted — I mean, why not make a major career move, get married and find out you are pregnant all in the same year!

On the court, the biggest satisfaction was seeing how our team bought into what we wanted to accomplish.  They went through a lot with two new assistant coaches coming in who brought some new philosophies, especially from a guard standpoint. We asked our seniors, who had done it one way for three years, to in some ways completely change what they were doing. They did not even bat an eye. To me, that was so rewarding to see them grow and come together, buy in and lead our team back to the NCAA Tournament.  

As I look back, that buy-in was not just on the court. Statistics are important, but I knew that if we did not get our players to stretch themselves in terms of team building, leadership and those kinds of things the season would not be what we wanted. What’s most satisfying for me was to see how those girls treated each other in the locker room. There was and is a true genuineness there that you can’t explain — like a sisterhood and a group of girls who love and care about each other. That was really neat to see.

Going into the 2016-17 season I can already feel that family atmosphere carrying over, and I look forward to another year of Lady Bulldog basketball.

Speaking of family … The newest addition to our family is expected to arrive on November 11 — the day of our first game (like I said, we are great planners, right?). The timing may not be what we planned, but I honestly can’t tell you the joy we have at the thought of becoming parents.

Even though we are absolutely thrilled, I don’t think we could have shown nearly the excitement that our team did when we broke the news to them. I’ll never forget the special moment when we told our girls; seeing them run around the gym like crazy people! I’ve had questions like, ”Coach, are you going to name your baby Mackenzie Jr.?” or “How is little Shacobia doing?” I think it’s pretty obvious our little baby girl is going to have one big family.

Again, it truly is the blessing of a lifetime to be the coach at the University of Georgia. We have great tradition that was built by one of my mentors and favorite people, Andy Landers, who made the Lady Bulldogs into a national brand. It’s my hope, goal and vision to continue that great tradition and enhance it as we look to the future.

I am honored to be a member of a prestigious fraternity like the WBCA and to be surrounded by the best coaches and the best people in the world. 

Go Dawgs!

Taylor led the dawgs to a 21-10 overall record and 9-7 record in conference play. She recieved the 2016 Spalding Maggie Dixon NCAA Division I Rookie Coach of the Year award for her outstanding performance in her first year as a head coach.  To learn more about the award, vist here.

Release Date: 
Wednesday, August 24, 2016