Tuesday, November 29

Former WNBA player, Karen Booker ready to lead Trevecca women’s basketball

By David Wilson

Photo courtesy of Trevecca athletics

Karen Booker, a former standout at Franklin High School and Vanderbilt university, was introduced on June 10 as the sixth women’s basketball coach in Trevecca history. 

“God led me to Trevecca. When I was working with Fellowship of Christian Athletes, we were trying to help coaches learn how to share their faith while coaching. To be able to step into the position at Trevecca, where we preach the motto of Christian, scholar and athlete, the path just made sense for me,” said Booker. 

Booker, the 11th child of the late Monroe and Mary Booker, was an all-state selection in 1983 at Franklin. She was inducted in the Franklin High School Hall of Fame and has her jersey retired.

Booker averaged 12.8 PPG and 9.2 RBG throughout her time at Vanderbilt. She finished her career with 1,522 points and 1,096 rebounds. Booker was named first-team All SEC in 1987 and was also a third-team All-American. She still holds the record for most rebounds in a season (389) and is second in steals in a season (112). 

“To grow up in Franklin and then be able to go to Vanderbilt where I could be close to home, that was extremely meaningful. It was awesome to have my family come to all my games, especially with Barry, my younger brother, being at Vanderbilt as well,” said Booker. 

Booker would go to play in the WNBA with the Utah Stars and the Houston Comets. 

“I was more of a Dennis Rodman type of basketball player. Offensively, I would say I was very limited. But I loved rebounding and being a gritty, hard-nosed player. I wanted my teammates to have the confidence to keep shooting because I would go get the rebound and give them more opportunities to score,” said Booker. 

Booker has 15 seasons of experience as a basketball coach. She has been part of nine NCAA DI coaching staffs, three NCAA DIII coaching staffs, and has coached professionally in the WNBA and NWBL. 

She has been a head coach twice in her career. Booker served two seasons at Cal Poly, a NCAA DI program, and two years at NCAA DIII Sewanee. 

Booker has interacted with several marquee coaches throughout her coaching career. That list includes Detroit Pistons head coach Dwane Casey, Las Vegas Aces head coach Becky Hammon, Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer, and many others. 

“I want us to be a hard-working team at Trevecca. We are going to be a team that puts in high effort. We don’t want to be outworked by our opponents. I hope to teach these girls the value of hard work and learn how to push themselves to be better,” said Booker. 

Booker understands the challenge that lays ahead of her. 

The Trevecca women’s basketball program is 49-99 over the last six seasons and has not had a winning season since 2014-2015. 

“I remember coming to Trevecca games while I was a basketball official around 2007 and the program being great. Coach Gary Van Atta had some talented teams with tremendous athletes. Our program has a history of winning. We have shown that we can compete and be at the top of our conference,” said Booker. 

Van Atta led the Trojans to a 216-120 record during his 11 years as head coach. During that stretch, Trevecca finished in first place in the GMAC regular season standings twice and only experienced one losing season. 

“Tennessee is a girls basketball state. That is exciting for me. Middle Tennessee has become a hotbed for talent. We should be able to recruit locally and get the talent that is necessary to get Trevecca to a higher level both in our conference and nationally,” said Booker. 

Booker will make her Trojan coaching debut on Nov. 5 against Fisk University.  

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