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CBS19 Celebrates 50 years of Title IX: TJC basketball coach Trenia Tillis-Hoard

Lady Apache head coach Trenia Tillis-Hoard made history when she became the first solo African American women's head coach to win the NJCAA national championship.

TYLER, Texas — Tyler Junior College Lady Apaches' basketball coach Trenia Tillis-Hoard is a legendary self proclaimed Title IX baby who’s won countless awards, over 500 career wins, nine national tournament appearances, the NJCAA D1 coach of the year and the sole winner of the national tournament as a 17 seed.

"When I entered junior college, there were few women coaches," Hoard said. "Now in Region 14, I think we're at 75% female coaches."

Of the many coaches, past and present, Tillis-Hoard just became the first African American women's head coach to win the award (Kenya Larkin Landers was co-coach with her husband Michael Landers in 2014 at Trinity Valley Community College). Other coaches around the region celebrated that moment as if it were theirs, like Tatum girl's varsity basketball coach, Patricia Nelson.

“I actually cried because I know the struggle of how hard it is to win a district championship and then win five playoff games and then win a state championship," Nelson said. "I know how hard that is and to be the number one team in the nation of junior colleges is just amazing. I'm so proud of her.”

Rival head coaches like Kilgore College women's head coach Stephanie Williams even claim Tillis-Hoard as a mentor who is paving the way for coaches like herself.

“Being able to see Coach T get to the highest level of JUCO basketball and win it all, that sets the blueprint for the rest of us," Williams said. "We already know what we're doing now. It's just walking that confidence. Don't second guess yourself. We did it. So now let's go out there and execute.”

Tillis-Hoard established the blueprint, after stumbling into coaching nearly 23 years ago by coincidence.

“Somebody called me and said, 'Are you interested in being our head coach?' and I'm sitting there going, I don't know," Tillis-Hoard said. "I didn't know if I wanted to be a head coach. But I took a chance. And there were people that told TJC that I wouldn't do the work to keep the program going. But the beauty of that is, it's either friction or it's fuel. Well, I used it as fuel and it made me work harder and therefore, going into my 23rd year I'm still here. And the program, I don't think it's died.”

“Title IX had to happen to open up doors, to open up avenues, to give people opportunities," Tillis-Hoard said "And in this business, all you want is an opportunity.”

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