Fordham junior Briana Jordan said she’s different from her mother in a lot of ways. Her mother is relatively shy. “I probably talk too much,” she said. Her mom is more reserved. Briana’s characterizes herself as a vocal leader.
But they share a passion and talent for women’s basketball. And, as of this year, they share a coach.
Briana recently transferred to Fordham to play women’s basketball under Coach Stephanie Gaitley. Her mother, Pam Jordan, played for Gaitley from 1986 to 1990 at the University of Richmond.
Coach Gaitley is one of just a handful of NCAA head coaches to have both a mother and daughter play on her teams.
“It automatically hits you the most as far as age,” Gaitley joked, when asked about coaching a daughter of the woman she called “the best player I coached at Richmond.”
A Norcross, Ga., native, Briana played at Tennessee Tech for two years before making a decision to transfer. When she began to look for a new team, her mom suggested Coach Gaitley might be a good fit.
Briana enrolled at Fordham this year and will sit out the 2012-2013 basketball season in accordance with NCAA transfer regulations. As she settles into Fordham life, Coach Gaitley said that Briana is a great fit for the team.
“Briana is very articulate and very bright. She’s a great representation of what Fordham is all about,” Gaitley said.
Pam, a Philadelphia native, said geography initially played a role in her decision to play for Coach Gaitley at Richmond some 16 years ago. She was also recruited by then-new coach Geno Auriemma of the University of Connecticut’s legendary women’s basketball program.
“I wasn’t trying to go further north,” she laughed.
Though warm weather lured her to the south, Pam said she ultimately chose to play basketball at Richmond because of Coach Gaitley’s style and personality. It’s a decision she has never regretted.
“I really don’t think I could have asked for a better situation, a better coach, or a better university,” Pam said. “I don’t know of too many coaching situations where you still have a relationship with the coach sixteen years later.”
“We truly are friends. She was at my wedding. She’s been with me through the birth of four kids. I think I got a pretty good deal for my scholarship,” she said.
Though Briana says she is a Southern girl, New York City has begun to win her over.
“I think Fordham has the most beautiful campus I’ve ever been on. I fell in love with it when I came on my visit,” she said.
Pam said she learned a great deal from Coach Gaitley during her Richmond days and expects that Briana will do the same.
“[Coach] is a Jersey girl. She’s hard-nosed, and she’s tough, but fair. She’s a great teacher,” Pam said.
Briana, the oldest of four children, should feel right at home learning life lessons through sports. Briana’s father, Brian Jordan, played both professional football, for the Atlanta Falcons, and baseball, for the St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves.
Sports are just a way of life in the Jordan household.
“We just kind of live it, breathe it, and walk it,” Pam said. “The team aspect is alive and well in our family. Even when I’m telling the kids how to behave, I talk in sports terms. I’ll say, ‘OK, we’re done with the first quarter, and we need to do better when we get back out there,'” she said.
Whether she’s focused on Team Jordan or her new Fordham teammates, Briana said she’s thankful to have the support of a caring family both at home and at school.
“I’ve always been around both a competitive atmosphere and a family atmosphere. I came up here, and just naturally came into another family.
“I know Coach Gaitley is a great coach, and I know she just really cares about each person,” Briana said. “I’m glad I decided to come here.”
by Jennifer Spencer