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Staff Spotlight: Shay Lewis, Women’s Basketball Coach

January 18, 2021

For this month’s Staff Spotlight, we’re sitting down with Shay Lewis, our women’s basketball coach. Lewis is a shining example of someone dedicated to giving back, serving the community and being a difference-maker in everything she does – which is quite a lot. She’s featured in both the print and online versions of the January issue of BLAC magazine.

Schoolcraft College: A quick look at your Linkedin profile shows an incredible list of accomplishments across a variety of careers: Coaching, teaching, broadcasting and more. What are the highlights for you so far?

Shay Lewis holding a basketballShay Lewis: First of all, I’m extremely proud of my diverse experiences at high levels. As a Black woman, when I started my career, I noticed how quickly and easily in the workforce people try to pigeonhole you and I never wanted that to happen to me. There are lots of things that I’m passionate about and love doing, so to have an opportunity to do those things on the levels that I have has been extremely rewarding. It’s also been very rewarding to show/prove to my players and students that women are capable at successfully leading and managing multiple things at the same time.

The highlights in my career so far have been:

  1. Co-hosting a morning show on the radio in my hometown. (Editor’s note: She was known as “Shay Shay” on 105.1 The Bounce.) When you start in radio, everyone knows the top of the mountain is doing mornings. Waking up the city of Detroit, my hometown, every morning was the highlight of my radio career.
  2. Being a head basketball coach on the college level. Starting coaching at the youth AAU level, working for a WNBA franchise (Detroit Shock), working my way up to heading high school Varsity programs, being on staff at the NAIA and NCAA Division I levels to now being the head coach at Schoolcraft College is a huge highlight!
  3. Having an opportunity to teach at my alma mater, Wayne State University, is another highlight.

SC: Please tell us a little about your background, your education and how you got to be where you are today.

SL: I was born in Detroit, but I’ve moved around to a few places when I was younger. I lived in Pittsburgh, Mexico City and St. Louis before moving back to Michigan in middle school. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Radio/TV/Film and a Master’s degree in Sports Administration from Wayne State University and I also played basketball for WSU on a full-ride athletic scholarship.

Three things that I’ve always been really passionate about are music, sports and helping others. I figured if I have to get up and do something every day, I would try to make a career out of something I love to do and fortunately I’ve been able to do that through broadcasting, coaching and teaching. I attribute it to goal setting and hard work.

SC: Do you miss morning radio?

SL: Lol! There are things I miss about that world and some things I don’t. I love broadcasting, I love having good conversations with people, I love making people laugh and smile, I love being an entertainment outlet to people and I love being creative.

The crazy thing about me being in that industry is that I’m actually kind of shy, quiet and love the simple things in life. I’m not a glitz and glamour person all the time. I’m more of a girl next door person so sometimes being out at the mall or a restaurant and getting the “Hey it’s Shay Shay” for as long as I was in radio, I guess I never really got used to that although I appreciated people enjoying my show.

SC: Tell us about your role as Director of Athletics for the City of Detroit. What does that entail?

Shay Lewis coachingSL: I provide affordable, safe and organized athletic programming for the youth in the City of Detroit through the Parks and Recreation Department. It’s my job to create and organize city-wide leagues such as soccer, t-ball, flag football, basketball and help find funding, community partnerships and sponsorships for the leagues. I also set up and organize different sports clinics plus coaches clinics and trainings.

I’m involved in all aspects of the process of creating the league, including providing uniforms, marketing, field and facility permitting, purchasing equipment etc.

My role as Director of Athletics for the City of Detroit is a REALLY important role to me because I’m able to give back, serve and be a difference-maker in the community I was born in.

I also realize how important sports, athletics and recreational play is to the youth and especially in communities like the city of Detroit. I often feel the importance of things like sports, arts and music get lost and pushed on the back burner in cities like Detroit, but these activities are extremely important to the mental health and physical development of our youth.

Kids need to have the opportunity to be active and creative and when those are the first things to be taken away, they need someone who will advocate for them and fight for those things. As a girl who played multiple sports growing up, I know how much the lessons I learned from playing did to shape me with school, my career and my outlook to be successful in life.

Sports builds character in our youth and helps them find/realize that they can be GREAT! Sports also brings families and communities together. So I view my role in organizing sports leagues, creating safe environments, facilities and play areas for Detroit youth as Director of Athletics for Detroit Parks and Recreation as a crucial and needed role.

SC: Why was the position of women’s basketball coach at Schoolcraft College appealing to you?

SL: There are several answers to this. First, it was a chance for me to achieve one of my goals which was being a head coach on the college level.

I also felt it was the right school at the right level, at the right time. From being an assistant coach at Rochester College and the Director of Basketball Operations at Oakland University, those jobs really helped shape my coaching career and helped me to know what I was looking for. I wanted to be at a school that would support me and my vision and give me time to build that vision.

I had been on a few previous interviews for head coaching job at the college level but none like the one I had at Schoolcraft College with Cali and Sid. (Editor’s note: Director of Athletics Cali Crawford and Sid Fox, former athletic director and now Director of Community Relations for Athletics and Alumni.)

They were genuine, real and truly cared about the student athletes and athletic programs at Schoolcraft. We had a great conversation and I left with that feeling of this is the place.

I also wanted to be at a school that I felt gave me a good opportunity to be successful. Schoolcraft is in a great location, has a beautiful campus and some exceptional educational programs.

Last but not least, it was very important to me to be at a school that supported me on a personal level. I have a full-time career being the Director of Athletics for Detroit Parks & Rec, I’m an Adjunct Professor at Wayne State University, I was the head coach of a varsity high school girls’ basketball program and personally training. To add Schoolcraft to my plate, I needed an administration that would understand all the things I was doing and supported me in that but also knew I give 100% in everything that I do. Cali Crawford has been incredibly supportive to me and the women’s basketball program at Schoolcraft.

SC: After a first season at Schoolcraft where you worked hard to establish culture and expectations, we’ve had to pause. How have you worked to maintain continuity and continue to build the team while apart? What are the challenges and how are you, your assistant coaches, staff and the players overcoming them?

SL: My coaching staff and I worked really hard to recruit players for the 2020 class. When things shut down, we really had to get creative on how we could market our program and school to recruits since we couldn’t do the traditional campus visits. Like most, Zoom became our best friend. We also tried to step up our social media presence and video footage.

We have also been able to utilize a lot of apps and digital programs to keep up with our strength, conditioning and skills workouts.

We are really excited about the group we have brought in and keep focusing on building our culture. It has definitely been difficult when there has been so much starting and stopping but we understand that when we get the green light to go, we have to be ready. We are taking advantage of this time to build our relationships with each other off the court.

SC: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

SL: I just want it to be clearly stated how dedicated I am to giving back, serving my community and being a difference-maker. I love being a mentor and pride myself on having high character and being a living example to the young ladies that I coach of strength, being resilient, working hard and believing in yourself that you can do whatever you set your mind to.

In my spare time, I love to travel - especially to a place with a beach!