Women’s basketball coach excited to be back

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Photo courtesy of CSUSM Athletics/Greg Siller

Coach Jimenez reflects on being a coach during the pandemic.

Kinsey Canez, Staff Writer

Last year, Renee Jimenez met with her women’s basketball team only via Zoom to discuss everything from binge TV to emerging social justice issues. 

In an interview with the CSUSM coach last week, Jimenez talked about the abrupt ending of the 2019 season. 

She and her team had flown to Hawaii for the NCAA tournament in March. Then the pandemic hit.

News that broke that the NBA had shut down and the NCAA followed suit. 

“All these things happened within the five hours that we were in the air on that Wednesday. I’ll never forget it” she said. 

While in Hawaii, Jimenez got a phone call that the season was over and that the team needed to get on the next flight home. The season and the tournament were uncertain.

“We didn’t know it was going to be months before we saw each other again. So when we started school this past August, that was the first time I had seen my kids in 17 months.” she said. 

In those virtual meetings, Jimenez tried to help her players make sense of the disruption and find opportunities for connection. 

“We had a lot of individual one-on-one meetings with our players. We got to learn a lot more about them as people, about their families — things you don’t always have time for as a coach,” she said. 

Jimenez also spent time with her newborn twins, who joined a sibling later in 2019. 

Reflecting on her coaching career, she said it began with a sports loving family and many afternoons playing basketball in her driveway in Ventura. Jimenez took up hoops around the age of  eight or nine and continued to play until she graduated from San Francisco State University in 2004. 

While thoughts of a coaching career came in high school, “once I got to college I started to really figure it out, like this is what I want to do,” she said. “And, so I just started to kind of make decisions in college that set me up to be in the coaching world.”

After graduation, Jimenez worked basketball camps at Stanford University before landing an internship there as a video coordinator. Several years later, Jimenez served as the head coach at Cal State Monterey Bay. 

CSUSM hired her to coach women’s basketball in 2015. 

Jimenez’s usual mornings start bright and early with breakfast for her kids before school. Then comes a schedule filled with some variation of practice, weights, game film, scouting and game prep.

“The end of the day comes and it’s back to family. It’s picking kids up from school, taking them to practice, making dinner” she said. “My work time for my team is when I’m with them and then it’s after my kids go to bed.”

Asked about her coaching philosophy, Jimenez said, “It’s really about the student athlete experience and making sure that that’s all encompassing for them.” 

On the court, her focus is strong defense.

On Dec. 2, Jimenez clenched her 200th career win as a coach as the Cougars beat Cal State Dominguez Hills 71-65.

As for the rest of the season, Jimenez said she’s optimistic. She and the team are set on a conference championship and a spot in the NCAA tournament once again.

The Cougar Chronicle: The independent student news site of California State University, San Marcos