Joial Griffith named as Whitworth's new women's basketball coach - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Joial Griffith named as Whitworth's new women's basketball coach

Photo: Whitworth Athletics Photo: Whitworth Athletics

By Whitworth Athletics

SPOKANE, Wash. – Joial Griffith, an assistant coach at Williams College (Mass.), has been selected to become the next women's basketball coach at Whitworth University, according to director of athletics Tim Demant.

Griffith takes over for long-time coach Helen Higgs, who resigned after 24 seasons as the winningest coach in Whitworth women's basketball history.

"Joial's passion for the game, her thoughtfulness in relationships and her commitment to developing the entire student-athlete set her apart from an incredibly deep applicant pool," Demant said.

Griffith spent one season with the Ephs' women's basketball team, which finished 12-13 in 2017-18, including two close losses to eventual national champion Amherst.

"I'd like to thank President Beck Taylor, Tim Demant and the hiring committee for their faith in me and for giving me this opportunity to lead this program forward," Griffith said.  "I am excited to be part of a faith-based institution and to be joining the Whitworth community and coaching its student-athletes."

Prior to her year at Williams, Griffith was the assistant coach at Claremont-Scripps-Colleges in Southern California, near where she grew up.  The Athenas made back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances during her two seasons, finishing 20-9 in 2017 and 23-6 in 2016.

Griffith began her career as a graduate assistant coach at Concordia University in Irvine, California in 2011.  She had been a two-year player for the Eagles and graduated from Concordia in 2007.  She earned her Master's in 2013 and went on to assistant coaching stints at Canyon High School (2013-14) and Mendocino College (2014-15).

Whitworth is coming off a 10-15 record in 2017-18.  Griffith takes over for Higgs, who won 361 games in 24 years leading the Pirates and ranked 48th in total victories among active Division III coaches at the time of her retirement. 

"It is no small task to take over a program from someone as well established as Helen Higgs," Griffith said.  "They are big shoes to fill!  I think it's important to get to know the returning and incoming players, start to build a culture that is relationship- and commitment-driven and start recruiting future Pirates."

Whitworth returns 11 players in 2018-19.

"I am excited to see the impact Joial will have on the women of our team as she builds upon the legacy of Coach Higgs and puts her own stamp on this program," Demant said.

Though this is Griffith's first head coaching opportunity, she feels ready for the challenge.

"I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge and thank Pat Manning (Williams College) and Kristen Dowling (CMS) for helping prepare me over the last three years to take this monumental step of being a head coach," she said.

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