Tuesday, May 30, 2023 May 30, 2023
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New Wings Coach Latricia Trammell Is Ready For Her Final Test

Dallas is turning to a coaching lifer to end its championship drought–and its revolving door at head coach.
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New Wings coach Latricia Trammell with Wings president Greg Bibb plus All-Stars Arike Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally. Photo courtesy of Dallas Wings.

Kristi Toliver has fond memories of Latricia Trammell from the four seasons Trammell spent as an assistant coach for the L.A. Sparks. Most notably, Toliver remembers her positivity, enthusiasm, and energy.

Oh, and the No-Paint Challenge. Or as Toliver calls it, “The Coach T Drill.”

“I know the Wings will love/hate this one,” Toliver, a Sparks guard, said with a laugh. “Thirty seconds was put on the clock, and we had to run five-on-five half court. A player could not touch the paint.”

Touch the paint? Suffer the consequences. The clock would be reset, and the drill would start all over.

“It was a great drill–the physicality aspect, the detailed-oriented nature of it and us connecting the dots and realizing, ‘If we get this done, we will give ourselves a great chance to win,’” said Toliver, who in the offseason works as an assistant coach with the Mavericks.

A chance to win is exactly what the Wings are looking for, and they believe they’ve finally found that person in Trammell, who was named head coach last month. She becomes the fifth coach to lead the franchise since 2018.

During her time in L.A., Trammell oversaw the defense. For three consecutive years starting in 2019, the Sparks had a top-three defensive net rating. Four Sparks were named to the WNBA All-Defensive team, including Candace Parker, the 2020 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year.

Trammell has predominantly worked as a head coach at the college level, spending three seasons at the helm of Oklahoma City University, which won NAIA national championships in 2014 and ’15. Trammell was named NAIA Coach of the Year in both seasons and finished with a career record of 85-10.

Prior to her time at Oklahoma City, Trammell, 54, spent five seasons at Western State University in Gunnison, Colo. She ranks third all-time in wins there. Before  joining the collegiate ranks, Trammel spent six years coaching girls’ high school basketball in Texas and Oklahoma, posting a 105-45 record. 

After nearly 30 years in coaching, all that’s left is to win as a head coach at the professional level. 

“I feel like I’ve been preparing for this job my entire life,” said Trammell.

Toliver, who played under Trammell for three years, believes the Wings have finally found the right leader after employing three head coaches over the past five seasons. “I can guarantee that every day there will be joy in that gym and intention and purpose in everything that they do, and they should be very excited about that,” Toliver said.

That starts with Trammell’s trademark defense, which Toliver believes is what the Wings have been lacking and missing. Dallas posted the WNBA’s ninth-best defensive rating last year. Its best mark over the last five years has been eighth. “To get that [defensive instruction] from the head coach in the way that she does it will be great,” Toliver added.

Another believer is former colleague Fred Williams, who coached alongside Trammell in L.A. for four years and was coincidentally the longest-serving coach of the Wings. Williams, now an associate head coach for Auburn women’s basketball, led the Wings from 2014 to ’18, first when they were the Tulsa Shock, and then for the first three years in Dallas. 

“She’s one of those very passionate coaches, really focused on the defensive end of things,” Williams said. “She comes into every game with a purpose, and I think she will do that with the Dallas Wings in a great manner.”

Trammell inherits a talented team from Vickie Johnson, who was fired after the 2022 season despite finishing third in the Western Conference with an 18-18 record, the franchise’s best since 2016. The Wings reached the playoffs in each of Johnson’s two seasons, losing a first-round series this summer to the Connecticut Sun, 2-1.

Trammell will have plenty to work with: All-Star guard Arike Ogunobwale, who just signed a long-term extension; fellow All-Star Satou Sabally; guard Marina Mabrey; veterans Allisha Gray and Kayla Thornton, and promising young players  Veronica Burton and Teaira McCowan, among others.

“They’re young – meaning youthful – competitive, hungry, they’ve had a taste of winning,” Trammell said. “A good expectation for them as we’ve discussed is winning a playoff series and then seeing what happens after that. There is a solid foundation, great core pieces. They are excited. They really want our fan base to give them a chance and be their sixth man in the stands.”

Communication will be a key to success, as will setting standards and expectations and establishing roles from Day 1. To that end, Trammell emphasized that “players will have a voice. I want them to have a seat at the table.” She is already engaged in a group text chat with all the players to develop chemistry and connection.

Trammell knows the charge and is ready to take over a team that many view as a perennial underachiever. Her formula for getting the most out of Dallas’ considerable raw talent? “My biggest thing coming in is putting them in the right situation to play to their strengths,” she said. “This is a team that can play multiple positions and defend multiple positions. I like the continuity on the offensive end, and I think the biggest enhancement will be on the defensive end. They are capable of getting up and getting after it.”

Trammell, a Claremore, Okla., native who is also Native American (Cherokee), spends her down time in the offseason as an analyst on basketball broadcasts and fly-fishing, the latter of which she labels “my calm in the storm. I have all the gear, climb in the river, all of it. I absolutely love it and have been doing it for over a decade.”

Now that she has her dream job, Trammell can’t help but think of what she has lost and the adversity she has experienced. It has helped shape who she is today. Three years ago, her parents died within nine days of each other. They were her biggest fans. And before last season, she lost her brother Donnie.  

Her voice became softer. “They would just be so proud of me,” Trammell said. “I know they are looking down on me right now and saying, ‘I told you so, that this was going to happen.’ They knew this was what I wanted to do.” 

They had watched Trammell grind through season after season, climbing the coaching ladder one rung at a time: small colleges to larger colleges, larger colleges to professional assistant. Now she’s at the pinnacle of the sport. And she’s confident that all the years she put in – the years her parents watched her work – have prepared her for the only task she’s yet to conquer. 

“I’ve been a complete student of the game, learning all I possibly could,” Trammell said. “And I always take pride in being a teacher of the game. It doesn’t matter what level you are coaching, as long as you continue to grow and develop. The expectations and standards and visions I have for this team – it’s the right fit, and I think going back to my championship experience, basketball is basketball.”

But even if the game is a constant at all levels, leadership isn’t. And after another change at the helm heading into their eighth season in Dallas, the Wings are hoping the fourth time’s a charm. 


Dorothy J. Gentry

Dorothy J. Gentry

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Dorothy J. Gentry covers the Wings for StrongSide. A native Dallasite, she is a journalist and educator who covers the…

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