TOPEKA (KSNT) – Some of the top-10 girls basketball teams in Kansas reside in Topeka, but only one of them is coached by a woman.
“I noticed that being a thing,” Hannah Alexander, Topeka High’s girls’ basketball coach, said. “There wasn’t too many females coaching sports, whether it be volleyball or basketball.”
The Topeka High Trojans are No. 4 in the state for 6A girls basketball.
“We grew up playing together,” senior Tae Thomas said. “We all are really familiar with each other, so it’s just like playing basketball with my best friends.”
That team chemistry includes the players’ bond with their head coach.
“Like our best friend,” senior Jada Fulton said. “We love to spend time with her, and we really bond with our coaches as much as we bond with our teammates, which is really helpful because then when it’s time to get strict on the court, we know that it’s all out of love.”
Only three of the top 10 6A teams in Kansas are coached by women.
“It’s hard for women to be in sports,” Alexander said. “You’ve got your family, your home life, you’re having kids, and then you’re also juggling being here and being present with the kids here. It’s very hard, but I think it’s really important. It’s all about building relationships and connecting with those kids.”
But Alexander’s players say having a female head coach is an advantage.
“I think how much she communicates with us on and off the court is what makes us really successful,” Thomas said. “She’s very different in that aspect. I feel like she relates to us more, as women, knowing how we can be sometimes.”
For a lot of them, it’s their first time having a woman as their head coach.
“When I got into high school, it was kind of like a shock,” Fulton said. “I was like, ‘Wait, she’s the head coach?’ And they were like ‘Yeah,’ so I was like ‘I’ve always had men coaches up until now.’ So, it was really weird at first, but once I got into it I loved it.”
Her experience passed on to the Trojans has led them to an undefeated record this season. The team is working off of three-straight Centennial league championships, three-straight trips to the state semifinals and two state runner-up finishes.
“I’ve been here 8 years with pretty much the same crew, so it’s something that we’ve built in a very strong program,” Alexander said.
And the Trojans’ success won’t stop with Alexander at the controls.
“Just continuing to always fight for my kids,” she said.