Take advantage of the opportunities in front of you
That’s the advice Tasia McKenna offers athletes and aspiring coaches as they pursue their goals in sport.
She speaks from experience, having carved out a successful five-year varsity career at Lakehead in Thunder Bay, Ontario, before turning her passion into her profession by becoming Basketball Nova Scotia’s (BNS) technical director and performance coach in 2016. Tasia is the first Black female to hold the position.
Whether it was running onto the court to play during breaks at her dad’s games or using the indoor hoop attached to a door in the basement, Tasia embraced opportunities to get extra practice. She gained valuable coaching experience over the years by seeking out roles with club, high school, provincial program and varsity teams.
She also took advantage of the expertise around her and reminds young athletes to do the same by reaching out for face-to-face support.
“Obviously I’m a Black female, which has some other barriers that can come into play,” says Tasia, who has attended Canada Games as both a player and a coach. “But I think by surrounding yourself with the right people to help guide you and navigate you through those tough situations, I think we can achieve anything and ultimately, it’s the community at large, regardless of who we are, that needs to support one another.”
Growing up, basketball was a family affair for Tasia. Her parents, brother and most of her cousins played. Countless hours were spent on nearby outdoor courts in Timberlea and hoops were shot on the back deck, which Tasia recalls had a hoop with the tiniest of rims.
Born to play, a two-year-old Tasia even tried to join in on her mom’s senior game. By age seven, she was on her first team.
Access to the sport was fairly easy for her, but she knows this is far from the reality for many. Nova Scotia Gaming’s Support4Sport initiative, which funds Tasia’s position at BNS, has helped to facilitate development and access provincewide.
Tasia says her focus is on creating equity so that everyone can play, regardless of skill level, background, income or race.