Lisa Willis, new T.C. Williams Girls Basketball Coach (courtesy photo)

Lisa Willis, Team USA gold medalist and former Women’s National Basketball Association player, has joined T. C. Williams High School as the head coach for the girls' basketball program.

The appointment of Willis is part of a new vision for T. C. Williams that aims to expand the number and types of programs and opportunities offered at the high school level and increase funding through public-private partnerships under the leadership of T. C. Principal Peter Balas. This school year, ACPS has a new Director of Athletics and Student Activities, James Parker, who is responsible for further boosting the school division’s reputation as a training ground for top-tier athletes.

“My goal is to change the caliber of coaches that we are attracting to train our young athletes and this appointment clearly matches that expectation,” said Parker. “Lisa Willis brings a wealth of experience both on and off the court that will help us to grow not only outstanding basketball players, but women who are also strong leaders and assets to our community. We also know that star athletes and coaches act as a magnet for other strong coaches to apply for positions at schools and we hope this is just a beginning."

Willis has more than 20 years of competitive basketball experience, where she played for teams including the New York Liberty, the Los Angeles Sparks and the Sacramento Monarchs. She also played competitively in international leagues in Latvia, Turkey, Greece and Russia. Career highlights include winning a gold medal as part of Team USA in 2005, being selected as the WNBA First Round Draft Choice, 5th Overall Pick in 2006 and leading UCLA’s program to national prominence as their all-time three-point leader.

“Ms. Willis' focus on developing the entire basketball player from within – not only focusing on skills on the court but also on empowerment, mental preparedness and community leadership – is exactly the right fit for T. C. Williams,” said Balas. “We are excited for what she brings, not only to our women's basketball team, but to our school community as a whole”

“(I am) truly flattered and honored to be a part of a school with so much rich history,” Willis said after the announcement was made on Sept. 6.

Known as an elite basketball player, Willis has coached both high school and college level programs. After retiring from competitive basketball, Willis created and implemented leadership programs in middle schools, high schools and universities that empower players and develop leadership skills.

She has extensive training experience as the president of Mindful Development Hoops where she trained and mentored dozens of athletes and through Willis Hoops, an organization she founded that provided basketball clinics, camps, academies and training programs for inner-city youth that helped them grow as athletes and individuals.

Willis started in the role on Sept. 7.