The University of Memphis women’s basketball team has a new head coach. Looking to turn the tables of past seasons, Katrina Merriweather is here to change the culture.
Merriweather grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana where she started her basketball career. She went on to play in college at the University of Cincinnati, before realizing she wanted to become a college coach during her sophomore year.
“I never had a bad coach. I never had a coach that screamed at me. I feel like it contributed to my experience as an athlete, and I wanted to then share that with other young women,” Merriweather said.
She credits her father for inspiring her to get into coaching. But it was not just her father who inspired her, other coaches and mentors have helped her along the way.
“I stand on the shoulders of hundreds of people. There is not one in particular I feel like I have been really impacted by. I feel like I take a little from everybody who I have watched or witnessed,” Merriweather said.
After being an assistant with Wright State from 2010-2016, she was promoted to head coach on April 19, 2016. Over the next few years, Merriweather was named Horizon League Coach of the Year three times. She attributes these awards to the administration at Wright State. The players also felt comfortable with the coaching staff and felt as though there was a supportive environment that cared about athletes as people and students.
“We created an environment for these players where we were tight-knit and a family. We were willing to go through the journey together and run through a wall for one another,” Merriweather said.
After spending time at Wright State as the head coach until 2021, she was named the head coach of the University of Memphis women’s basketball team. With her, Merriweather brought a different coaching style to the team.
“Servant leadership. We try to be the example. I am not very authoritative. I believe that when people know you believe in them, that is when they perform to their maximum potential,” Merriweather said.
When she accepted the position, it came with its challenges. She came into a program that has a mix of returning players along with players that followed her through the transfer portal from Wright State.
“This process is not going to happen overnight. The players are very coachable. But it is up to (the players) to make this year as smooth as possible with a new coaching staff, (since) some players did not come to Memphis to play for the original staff,” Merriweather said.
Behind the performances of Jemirah Shutes, Alana Davis and Madison Griggs, Merriweather inherited a talented group of seniors. The veteran group decided to finish their eligibility as Tigers and are excited for the new coaching staff.
“I think the whole staff came in optimistic about the season. With the team only winning four games last season, they have been very positive and ready to work every day,” Alana Davis, a fifth-year player, said.
Two players followed Merriweather to Memphis from Wright State. Emani Jefferson values the familial environment that Merriweather created at Wright State, making the decision to transfer easier for her.
“(Merriweather) made us feel like we were a family. It was just comfortable,” Jefferson said.
With Katrina Merriweather's hiring at head coach, the University of Memphis women's basketball team has seen a massive culture shift. Merriweather focuses on making the team feel more like a family, which also prompted players from her former university to transfer with her.