Just like she has the past 10 years, Jasmin Coleman will be on the Walters State sideline when the 2021 season kicks off. This time, however, she will be there as interim head coach of the Lady Senators.

Coleman and her team begin their run for their ninth straight TCCAA title on Wednesday, Jan. 27, against Chattanooga State. That kicks off a schedule that is different than normal, playing only the east teams in the conference and playing them four times instead of two, but Coleman says that she and her squad are ready for everything thrown their way.

“When I came here 10 years ago, that’s when I think coach Kragel started preparing me for this very time,” Coleman said. “None of us have seen anything like this in our lifetime, but through the years you deal with different things with different teams. I’ll never be prepared, but we are handling the adversity as best we can. All we can do is just hope that we can all stay healthy.”

After taking on the Lady Tigers to open the year, Walters State will take on Motlow State at home to close out the month of January.

In February, the Lady Senators will play seven games, six conference games and one non-conference game against Catawba Valley. Walters State has seven more conference games in March before ending the season in April with a home game against Roane State.

“We have to come to play every practice and every night out to be able to compete in this conference,” Coleman said. “Everyone in our conference plays extremely hard. It’s been hard the past 10 years and even when I was playing that you would see a team twice in the regular season and then possibly in the championship game. Trying to beat a team three times is tough, but now trying to beat them four or potentially five times is going to be a battle.”

Coleman will have plenty of help from her team who boast a good group of sophomore leaders from last season, including Blayre Schultz and Quentarra Mitchell.

Schultz, a Morristown native, averaged 11.2 points per game in 28 games last season and made 63 3-pointers. Mitchell, who hails from Nashville, averaged a little under five points in 27 games.

Coleman also returns Madison Mccoy, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL. Despite only seeing her in practice so far, Coleman is impressed with Mccoy’s ability.

“I have a few sophomores and some players like Madison Mccoy, who didn’t get to play last year, who are playing really hard right now,” Coleman said. “Madison, Blayre Shultz and Quentarra Mitchell have really been my vocal leaders out on the floor. That’s what has really been carrying us through the pre-season.

“Madison is a newcomer since she is a redshirt, and I am looking forward to seeing her play. She got hurt her senior year in high school so she hasn’t been able to play in a year and a half. But she brings it every day and every time out. I have been looking forward for a long time to get her out on the court.”

As for the newcomers, Coleman said that everyone is going to be expected to step up. She pointed out Jaida Wiggins, Ryann Woodley and Maliaka Grice that could provide a big spark.

“Jaida Wiggins plays extremely hard,” Coleman said. “She’s a really smart guard. She has dealt with a few things injury wise, but she is back and working as hard as ever. She’s huge for us and I think she will be huge if she stays focused.”

As Coleman begins her first season, she said that she’s not nervous and is excited to get out on the court again after such a long wait.

“I am very excited,” Coleman said. “I’m not nervous. The biggest adjustment to me was that me and coach Kragel are really good friends. Not seeing him every day has been the biggest adjustment. Coach Kragel was the type boss that took everything that I said into consideration. You don’t get that in a lot of places. Me and Beth (Frye) are working that same way. I am very fortunate to have her here. She has been everything this year for me.”

Walters State will kick off the season on Jan. 27 at home against Chattanooga State. A reminder that fans will not be allowed into the gymnasium through the end of the month. Fans can keep up with all updates and news by following Walters State’s social media accounts.