WEST MOVES WEST TO GATOR AID
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A year ago, Toni West was content to stay where she was. West, a coach who was given the opportunity to inaugurate the women’s basketball program at Las Positas College, brought the freshman-filled team to the playoffs with a 20-win season. An ideal start to what could become an established powerhouse among community college women’s basketball.

But when Gator coach Joaquin Wallace sent her an e-mail offering her assistant coaching job at SF State, West said, “Why not?”

“I wanted to get experience at the four-year level to see if I liked it,” she said. “I was not considering any other school, but was going to stay where I was.”

West, a former assistant coach for the Delta College women’s basketball team, one of the top teams in the California community college system, is being asked to help build a formidable program similar to her former teams at SF State, which is returning eight freshman from last season’s 8-19 finish.

“She brings an understanding of what it takes to build a program, recruit and manage student athletes as well as the administration portion that goes along with this job,” Wallace said.

The team, which went 3-17 in conference play last year and lost its first 10 league games, begins practice on Oct. 15 to prep for its season opener against at Santa Clara on Nov. 4.

Before accepting the job at SF State, West had only met Wallace a few times while recruiting but said the duo has already established a solid relationship.

“We have a pretty open relationship. He trusts me incredibly and that’s important because it makes it easier to compromise on ideas,” she said.

Many of her former coaches and colleagues agree that West will be a great addition to a program that is looking to improve unsatisfactory finishes.

Las Positas College Athletic Director Lisa Everett said, “Coach West cares deeply about the academic, athletic and personal successes of her athletes. [She] exhibits what I call ‘tough love.’ She expects a lot out of each player, but she gives back a lot in return.”

Delta coach Gina Johnson, for whom West was assistant coach for two seasons, said she believes her attitude is what creates a bond with her players.

“She has a unique ability to be approachable with young women, and at the same time, enforce expectations with discipline,” Johnson said. “Student-athletes are drawn to her because of her personality [and] I feel that she will be a great asset for [SF State].”

Coming to a team that only won eight games last season, West can sense the pressure to turn this year around. However, she said that it’s a good incentive for her to keep in mind.

“There are expectations put on me, but within that is a high level of trust that the administration and the team have in me,” the coach said.

The expectations that have been pushed onto her from others, goes along with the amount that she already carries on herself.

“I also put pressure on myself, which I, in turn, have high expectations for others.”
West describes her techniques as directing not only the body, but also the mind.

“[I instill] a different level of discipline where it deals with mental toughness.

“I think it’s huge because it brings more of an accountability on individuals, but it also brings cohesiveness and responsibility among the team.”

West said it is crucial that the players establish trust and assurance in each other.

“The most important thing would be having the team obtain belief that they are really a good team and they deserve to win because of the hard work they are putting in now,” she said. “They are moving toward that.”

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PHOTO
Eric Lawson | staff photographer
Toni West, Assistant Women's Basketball Coach at SF State.

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