Tatum wants to graduate from team captain to coach


Amani Tatum knows what she wants to do after her playing days at Manhattan College end after this season — continue playing.

“I first want to play professionally,” said Tatum, Manhattan’s senior guard and captain. “But I’m hoping to do some coaching down the line.”

And Tatum isn’t waiting to make Plan B work. In fact, she’s getting schooled next month as part of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s “So You Want to Be a Coach” program. The workshop will take place at the end of next month in Columbus, Ohio, in conjunction with the WBCA’s convention, and prior to the 2018 Women’s Final Four.

What’s even more impressive is that just 62 athletes from across the country were selected to participate in the program, with Tatum the only one picked from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Tatum is in good company. Manhattan’s assistant coach, Sahar Nusseibeh, is a graduate of the training program, and encouraged Tatum to take part. 

Not just anyone can apply, however, as one of the requirements is a nomination from a head coach. But Manhattan’s leader, Heather Vulin, didn’t even hesitate to nominate her senior captain.

“We talked about it and agreed it would be a good opportunity for me,” Tatum said. “Now I’m really looking forward to it.”

Each participant is selected based on her academics and contributions to women’s basketball both on and off the court. Tatum checked both boxes. She averages 13.3 points — second on the team — while connecting 64 three-pointers, tops on the Jaspers. 

“Just my leadership skills from being a captain here for the past three years, I think that helped as well,” Tatum said. “And overall I think I’m just a pretty decent person. There were a lot of people who applied, but I was one in the bunch to be chosen. I feel honored about that.”

Tatum transferred from James Madison University three years ago, and has been a captain throughout her whole Manhattan tenure. That thrusted her into an instant leadership role on the court.

“Every game, I’m a coach on the floor, leading my teammates, talking them up, telling them if they have any questions I’m that person for them on the floor,” Tatum said. “I think being a captain helps off the court as well, just leading my team and doing things the right way which is kind of a coaches’ mentality.”

Vulin, who is in her second season as Manhattan’s head coach, thinks Tatum will be a natural in her new career.

“She is a very passionate player and unselfish teammate who our team relies on for her leadership and consistency,” Vulin said. “As a three-time captain, she takes pride in being a leader and a motivator for her team. I believe she will be an outstanding coach one day.”

The three-day workshop and lecture program provides Tatum with professional development and career networking opportunities. She also will learn about the administrative aspects of the job, as well as how to recruit, manage time, and familiarize herself with the rulebook, among other things.  

“Coaching is not just about getting out on the floor every day,” Tatum said. “It’s so much more than that. So I’m definitely interested to see that other side of coaching.”

But coaching is still a ways off. First, Tatum homes to make some money and see the world a bit as a professional.

“It’s something I knew I wanted to do in the future,” Tatum said. 

“I’m not sure what level, but it was something I definitely want to do because basketball influences so many people in so many ways — young women especially.”

And when the day does come, exactly what kind of coach will Amani Tatum be?

“I’m definitely an intense, yeller type of coach,” Tatum said, laughing. “I don’t really see myself being quiet. A real high-energy type of coach. Definitely not quiet at all.”