New Varsity Coaches Lead Boys Basketball Program

Assistant coach Jazmyn Foster is the first woman to be in a varsity coaching role for the boys varsity program.


Clarion photo Caroline Diamond

Jazmyn Foster, assistant coach and Dondrale Campbell, head coach, are in their first year at the helm of Warriors’ basketball. Foster is the first woman assistant basketball coach for the boys’ program.

By Mirabella Miller, Reporter

The Cleveland boys basketball program has brought on two new varsity coaches this season, signaling a fresh start. Dondrale Campbell is the varsity head coach and Jazmyn Foster is the varsity assistant. Foster’s addition to the program is especially notable because she is the first woman to occupy a varsity coaching role for Cleveland boys basketball.

Campbell played basketball throughout his childhood, and continued to play in college as well as professionally overseas. This is Campbell’s third year coaching high school basketball. Before Cleveland, he coached at Lake Oswego High School for two years, and before that he spent a season coaching at South Puget Sound Community College.

“I started out coaching when I was 14, a fifth grade team for parks and rec back home in Oakland, California,” Campbell said. “I really enjoy being able to teach the kids.”

Campbell decided to bring Foster on as an assistant coach after he secured the head coaching job. “I just really liked her knowledge of the game and her passion,” said Campbell. “One of her best qualities as a coach…is how she is able to explain things to the players, and get them to understand what we are asking of them.”

This is Foster’s first time officially coaching a high school boys team, but she has a wealth of coaching and athletic experience to draw upon. She has played basketball since sixth grade, and won two state championships in high school. Similar to Campbell, she started coaching youth teams when she was in high school. She has worked at youth camps run by the Phoenix Suns and the Portland Trail Blazers before becoming involved with Cleveland.

“I became involved with high school coaching because of Coach Campbell…I felt really respected that he would actually take my feedback on some things. It’s not always easy to get men to listen and actually believe in your ideas,” said Foster.

Players are appreciative of the energy and knowledge Foster brings to the team. “She is a very fun person and always positive. She has a lot of connections within the basketball world that I don’t think many people have and is very close with our whole coaching staff,” junior Johnny Carr said.

“She communicates with us as not only a coach but someone we can talk about almost anything with,” senior Rowan Anderson added.

“My coaching style is something I’m proud of. I really try to be positive and encouraging at all times. Sometimes in a man’s world, that’s viewed as ‘soft’ or ‘weak’…but I think that there is never a one-size-fits-all coaching method,” Foster said.

Carr and Anderson recognized that this year is the first time in their basketball careers that they have been coached by a woman. “Throughout playing high school and AAU, it has been all men up to this point,” said Anderson.

Players and coaches have varying ideas about the reasons behind the lack of female coaches working with men’s basketball teams.

“I think that male coaches tend to dominate male sports because they have that relatability, which is important when you’re working with young men,” said Campbell. “But I think she [Foster] is able to master that really well. She is very nurturing, but also able to hold the boys accountable.”

“I think that most people haven’t really looked at hiring female coaches because they haven’t been a big part of teams yet and change can be scary,” Carr said.

Foster believes that there are three main reasons that more female coaches do not occupy coaching roles with men’s basketball teams. The first is simply not having a way in, like Foster had with Campbell recruiting her. Another is that “even after getting the role, women are going to have to earn respect from male players, and other male coaches. That’s a whole other task that can be challenging,” Foster explained. She believes the third reason is that women fear they will face more criticism from families and outside groups if something goes wrong with the team, more so than their male counterparts would.

“I think me being here and feeling so comfortable speaks volumes about what kind of leaders Cleveland has running the basketball program, and what kind of young men all of us are coaching,” Foster added.

“Just recently the Spurs named a woman as their assistant coach,” said Anderson, referring to Becky Hammon, who the San Antonio Spurs hired in August. “I think the game as a whole is slowly becoming more and more equal, however there is still plenty more to be done.”

Foster also acknowledged Becky Hammon’s addition to the San Antonio Spurs as a symbol of women being able to break into the male-dominated field of coaching. “I would hope that more female coaches can start to find their way into roles at lower levels, but I know that challenges are still there,” she said.

The new coaching staff is already making a big impact on the community. “We were thrilled to hear Coach Campbell was offered the head coaching job at Cleveland,” said basketball parent Lisa Delaney. “Adding Coach Jaz was an extra bonus…Cleveland could not be more fortunate to have this coaching staff.”

Campbell and Foster have led the team to a 7-5 record, and they are currently 3-1 in league play.