Willard brings her love of basketball to Greenhills


Photo by Rishi Verma '23

IN THE MOMENT Tiffany Willard, at left, “is an extraordinary coach and helps us stay relaxed even under pressure,” said Varsity Captain Meezan Hamzavi

Rishi Verma '23, Sports Staff

Tiffany Willard, Greenhills wellness teacher, Varsity women’s basketball coach, and Varsity women’s volleyball coach already seems to be a bit different from your ordinary teacher. Add division 1 basketball at one of the highest ranked universities in the nation and her uniqueness really begins to stand out. 

Basketball has been a big part of Willards life ever since she was young. 

“I started playing in eighth grade,” said Willard. “My dad told me I was getting pretty tall and gave me a basketball.” 

Willard never looked back.

“I fell in love with the sport,” said Willard.” “I was literally sleeping with a basketball next to me in my bed.” 

The longer Willard played, the more the goal of playing basketball at the collegiate level came into sight.

“When I got my first letter from a college the motivation just grew exponentially,” said Willard. “My dad told me it would take a lot of work and dedication, but I knew what I wanted,”

Willards hard work and commitment to the sport ultimately paid off and she played basketball at the University of Michigan from 1994 to 1998.

College is a time of growth for many and being a student athlete took this to the next level for Willard.

“I had never experienced anything like it in my life,” said Willard. “I feel like I finally grew up,” “It prepared me well for the stresses and challenges of the real world.”

Many who play sports understand that just because someone is a good player it doesn’t always translate to them being a good coach. This does not hold true for Willard.

“I’ve loved having her as our coach and just knowing what she’s accomplished in this sport motivates me to try 110% every practice,” said Varsity women’s basketball captain Meezan Hamzavi ‘23.

Hamzavi wasn’t the only player to share those sentiments.

“I play a lot of High School sports and have had many great coaches over the years, but she’s definitely one of the best,” said Varsity women’s basketball captain Georgie Branch ‘22.

11th grade dean and physics teacher Janelle Sterling is co-coach with Willard for the Varsity women’s basketball team.

“It’s been great coaching beside her and you can tell she really loves the sport and she has a deep IQ for the game,” said Sterling.

Other than Willards success in the sport and knowledge for the game, her character also stands out to those around her.

“She has no ego, and almost never talks about her success in the sport of basketball,” said Sterling.

Willards humility and high-class set a great example for the student-athletes on the right way to play their sport.

Willard’s experience with athletics for her entire life have certainly helped her become the coach she is today.

“I’ve had some really great coaches in my time,” said Willard. “I want to give my students what my coaches were able to give to me, to push them, but also support them as athletes and as people.”

There was one thing however from her time in college basketball that really stood out for her.

“Just the intensity of the sport in college,” said Willard “The amount of work, from lifts to the conditioning was something else.”

When watching the women’s Varsity basketball team, they certainly play with a sense of urgency and intensity that you don’t see from all teams.

It has been a tough year for the women’s Varsity basketball team so far with a record of X-XX but it seems playing basketball for her whole life has left Willard with maturity regarding the meaning of sports and being a coach.

“I’m not worried about our record, or the standings,” said Willard. “My job is to support these young women and make them better people.” “The record is just a number.”