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Daily Journal
     May 4, 2022      #75-124 KDJ
Khadaizha Sanders reacts at the sound of the buzzer as Bishop McNamara wins the 2015 IHSA Class 2A Girls Basketball Championship. Sanders will return to the program she became a champion with as the new girls basketball coach.

Daile Journal file photo

Mac's Sanders ready for first head coaching gig at

By Cody Smith

When it comes to sports, nothing is more inspiring than a welcome-home party.

Whether it’s a first-year coach or a newly acquired player, any individual tends to be most comfortable when competing in the town they grew up in.

This sentiment will be vital for Khadaizha Sanders, a 2015 Bishop McNamara graduate and IHSA Class 2A state champion point guard, who is set to become a first-time head coach for the Fightin’ Irish this winter.

“We are very excited to have Coach Sanders as our new head girls basketball coach,” McNamara athletic director Aaron Hamilton said. “Coach Sanders’ experiences as a state champion and playing at the next level show her dedication to the game and the classroom, which she will bring to our players.

“Sanders brings excitement to our girls basketball program, our school and our Bishop McNamara family.”

Sanders got plenty of experience competing in the McNamara gymnasium during her playing days at her alma mater as a four-year varsity starter and a three-time All-State selection. She also finished her McNamara career as the school’s all-time leader in points, assists and steals before graduating in 2015.

“It’s hard to find the words to describe the feeling of becoming the new head coach of Bishop McNamara,” Sanders said. “Honestly, I’m just grateful for the opportunity.

“Being a head coach is something I’ve dreamed of ... and for it to be at Bishop McNamara, my alma mater, and just to have this opportunity open up for me is just surreal.”

Sanders played for Rutgers University from 2015-20, when she was a three-time captain, two-time Big Ten All-Academic Team and two-time Big Ten Sportsmanship Award winner. She also finished in the Top 10 in Rutgers women’s basketball history for assists before opting to join Kurt Weigt’s coaching staff as an assistant girls basketball coach for the past two seasons at Kankakee.

“Coach Weigt has taught me to always put your best foot forward at every practice and game,” Sanders said. “One thing that Coach Weigt did a phenomenal job of is bringing energy every single day and being fired up about what we had going on.

“I can definitely take that from him. Weigt was also so organized with everything that he was doing, and so that organizational piece and professionalism are some of the things I can take from him as I get ready for my head coaching career.”

Sanders noted she is most excited about meeting the team as well as being able to have full control of a program. She said she is excited to dive into the head coaching role with full force.

Being that the Irish finished their 2021-22 season below .500 — sitting at 14-17 overall — Sanders said she plans to instill a new culture to help build up the program from within.

“I haven’t met the team yet, but I know we are bringing back some good pieces,” Sanders said. “I’m really big on the culture aspect, and so I want to make it feel like a sisterhood here and make sure everyone is bought in to the bigger picture of being a title-contending team.”

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