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Her Success is Shaped by Her Resilience

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Coach Tomekia Reed shares, “Being a coach is extremely important. It's not a title that I take lightly.” Coach Tomekia's pep talk to the Jackson State University Lady Tigers in the locker room at halftime says, “Right here in II Timothy 1:7, it talks about the Lord didn’t give you a spirit of fear but of power. We're going to stop right there at power. Don’t let anything block you from this moment of being great!”

Coach Reed prays with her players, “Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.” Tomekia states, “It is my duty to help players develop a form of discipline, and to develop and prepare the players for life after college.”

Tomekia Reed is making her mark as one of the top coaches in women’s college basketball. Since 2019, when Tomekia took over as head coach at Jackson State University, the Lady Tigers have dominated the Southwestern athletic conference. To date, that includes 4 regular season titles, 2 conference championships, and 2 trips to the NCAA division 1 tournament. She’s the first to admit that coaching isn’t always about who comes out on top.

Tomekia shares, “The game of basketball is so much bigger than wins and losses. It's about changing lives. We are just so fortunate that we get to use the game of basketball to do that.”

Tomekia grew up the youngest of three older brothers. She was the daughter of a minister in a tightknit and competitive family. On the basketball court, she was a natural, and by her senior year in high school, she was on her way to college on a scholarship. It was then she lost her mother to cancer. Tomekia recalls, “The person who was teaching me the essence of being a woman was now gone. And I had to figure it out as a 17-year-old headed to college to play collegiate basketball. It was tough.”

After a successful college career, Tomekia pursued her lifelong dream of coaching. At 25, she became an assistant coach at Jackson State University. The following year, her brother Carlos, her biggest supporter, was murdered during a robbery in his home. Tomekia remembers, “I was extremely saddened to lose the closest thing to me since my mom had passed. Someone who I felt was the only person who really understood me.”

Shortly afterwards, she left Jackson State and took a coaching job at a nearby university. She had a son, Carlon, but the relationship with her son’s dad failed. Tomekia turned to her dad to help raise her son and for spiritual and emotional support. Tomekia shares, “He was my backbone during that time. My faith was more in my father because I didn't know what to pray. I didn't know what to ask for.”

Then in May of 2017, at 36, Tomekia’s dreams came true when she was offered the head coaching job at Jackson State. Tomekia’s dad was at the press conference. Tomekia recalls, “He was so proud. I used to always tell my dad I couldn't imagine living life without him. And he would look at me and say, 'what make's you think I can live life without you?'” Three months later, her father died from a blood clot after a routine surgery. Tomekia remembers, “I lost my purpose. I lost my meaning. I lost my drive. I did what I did to make my dad proud and no longer having him here, I just didn't see the...the value in doing it anymore.”

Four weeks later, consumed with grief, Tomekia sat on her bed with a loaded gun ready to end her life. Tomekia shares, “I felt at the lowest I had ever been. And I can remember saying, ‘Lord, take this pain away now before I end it all.’ And right when I got ready to reach and pick the gun up, my son ran in the room and he asked, ‘Mom, what are you doing?’ And I just held him and I cried. At that moment I knew that I had greater in store. I just had to trust Him.”

Tomekia began going to church and surrounding herself with people who encouraged her relationship with God. Tomekia says, “So, I had to develop my own faith. I had to open my Bible. I had to rely on the scriptures. I had to pray nonstop. It was Jesus and I.”

After a three-month leave of absence, Tomekia returned to school in time for the start of the 2019 season. After losing five SWAC conference games in a row many said she was the wrong hire as the head coach. Through prayer and God’s guidance, Tomekia became the leader she needed to be. The Lady Tigers went on to win the next 11 games making an unbelievable run to the championship game where they lost by four points. In Tomekia’s eyes they were winners! Tomekia recalls, “And when people would say all these outstanding and amazing and phenomenal things about me, I gave honor to the Lord. It was like I was living a dream.”

Today, Tomekia’s still leading her players to excellence on and off the court, teaching them about what’s truly important in life and keeping her family’s memories close at heart. Tomekia shares, “The last player, we make a tribute to my mom, my dad, and my brother. So we slap hands, we bring them down, we kiss and we tap three times. And we do that every game. That's my tribute to them. And my players share that with me. I realize now I have a purpose that’s bigger than me. There are times where we hurt and that's okay. But we can't stay there. We have to get up and keep going. Trust the Lord, put our faith in Him. Stay mission focused. All things work together for the good, for those who love the Lord.”

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About The Author

Michelle Wilson

Michelle’s been with CBN since 2003 as a 700 Club reporter-producer. She’s an award-winning producer who’s traveled to seven countries producing life-changing stories on healings, salvations, and natural disasters, reaching millions for Jesus. She’s an entrepreneur and humanitarian who gives generously to those in need through Michelle Wilson Ministries.