Maintaining and growing relationships is a top priority for new Ottawa University women’s basketball coach Tarniesha Scott.

The coach said winning is a short-term goal, but building bonds is for a lifetime.

“One thing I pride myself on is relationships,” Scott said. “Even more rewarding than winning is when you get those phone calls from players, ‘Coach, I am a doctor now, nurse, coach or whatever it is.’ You realize the impact you had in their lives through that short period of time. That is what it is all about for me. Being able to be a voice in their lives. That feeling is more rewarding than winning basketball games.”

She said watching young ladies grow and mature is a feeling unmatched in college athletics.

“Somebody you recruit out of high school and watch them walk across the stage, there is no better feeling,” Scott said.

Scott, who took over the program Monday, is already forming relationships with returning players. She had a team Zoom meeting and called each player individually so they could get to know each other.

“They seem to be really excited,” Scott said. “They know there will be some changes. I am putting a strong emphasis on us competing and having fun. Making sure they have a great student-athletic experience.”

One of Scott’s priorities is to rebuild the Lady Braves roster through recruiting. Scott has been busy making contacts with coaches and players throughout the nation.

“I have been working nonstop on recruiting, getting on the phone and calling kids,” she said. “The reality is there are always more young ladies looking for opportunities than there are (spots) available throughout the country. There are kids out there that are passionate about playing basketball at the next level. There are kids out there that will be a great fit for our program.”

Scott’s love for the NAIA level of basketball drew her to Ottawa. She spent the past four years as an assistant coach at Xavier University of Louisiana, an NAIA Division I program. She also spent two season at Talladega College, where she was interim head coach for half a season and guided that team to the NAIA national tourney.

“I have been working at the NAIA (level) for a few years now,” she said. “I have grown to love the NAIA game. I am at a spot in my career that I am ready to be a head coach. Having that experience, gone to the national tournament a couple of times and saw the talent throughout the NAIA is definitely a benefit for me.”

The Lady Braves will be a defensive-minded and disciplined team under her leadership, Scott said.

“You are going to see an emphasis on defense,” she said. “You will see a lot of different defenses. We will play different zone defenses and man defense. We will mix it up. We may even do some matchup zone. We will do a lot of pressuring. We will be disciplined in our approach. We will be professional in what we are doing. It will be a good thing for fans to come out and see. It will be a lot of fun.”