Whittaker takes the reins

Posted 6/23/20

Monique Whittaker took over the reins of the Madisonville women’s basketball team from Shana Taylor in March, who ran the program since 2007 and established a culture for the Lady Mustangs.

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Whittaker takes the reins

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Monique Whittaker took over the reins of the Madisonville women’s basketball team from Shana Taylor in March, who ran the program since 2007 and established a culture for the Lady Mustangs.

“I coached against (Coach Taylor) at Coldspring and have a lot of respect for her,” said Whittaker. “She has grown this program and built expectations. They have been successful for many years under her leadership, so there are big shoes to fill. But the great thing is that I know she will always be around and I can lean on her.”

The 31-year-old Whittaker’s extensive basketball background includes a playing career at the University of Nebraska as well as Lamar University. She is a graduate of Livingston High School, where she was named a Parade All-American.

Last year, Whittaker was the head coach of Cleveland after taking over the position from 14-year coach Shiakiea Carter. This came after four seasons at the helm of Coldspring-Oakhurst, where she led the Lady Trojans to back-to-back Regional Quarterfinal appearances.

“I learned a lot in Coldspring and it will always be near and dear to my heart,” said Whittaker. “It was where I was first given a chance to be a head coach. When I first got there, I had a group of freshmen that were very successful at the junior high level. I was able to see those girls graduate, which was a promise I made to them and myself.”

Before Coldspring, Whittaker spent time at Groveton ISD and Corsicana ISD as an assistant coach and like skills teacher. She will teach speech at MCISD in the fall.

Whittaker spent the 2019-20 season in Cleveland, challenging herself at the 5A level, before deciding to get back to her small town roots.

“I wanted to be in a bit of a smaller town, which is what a grew up in,” said Whittaker. “I really valued Madisonville and have only heard great things about the area. I would love to help teach the girls, through the game of basketball, how to have great character, how to represent the community and how to represent themselves.”

Whittaker is from Livingston, but often moved around growing up since her mother was also a teacher and coach.

“I believe in relationships first,” said Whittaker. “I believe you have to reach the heart before you can reach the brain or anything else. I want to be a role model and want the girls to know that I come from a town very similar to Madisonville. Through handwork and making sure school comes first, you can do anything you set your mind to.”

Despite being hired in March, Whittaker was able to meet with the team for the first time this week, due to restrictions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. She will bring to the table an upbeat and aggressive coaching style and looks to continue the groundwork laid by Coach Taylor.

“I am tough-nosed and I get excited,” said Whittaker. “As a coach I am very passionate. Basketball has led me to great things and I value that because it has made me who I am. I want to showcase that through the love of the game. We are going to be a run-and-gun team, we want to press and we believe good defense makes for good offense.”

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