Coaching girls basketball was never on the radar for Ellisville native Trista Magee — that is until she joined the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) women’s basketball team in 2017. Head coach Randy Norton pointed Magee in the direction.
"When I got to UAB, I kept saying there's no way," said Magee about one day becoming a basketball coach. "Coach [Randy] Norton, who was my head coach at UAB, kept telling me how he thought I would be great at it. I think you could do this and impact lives he would say to me.
"And I don't know how, but all of a sudden, as I was about to finish up my Master's degree and fifth year of college basketball, I felt God calling me to be an impact in young girl's lives.
"I've had so many great mentors throughout my career, and that's important."
Late Tuesday night, the former Presbyterian Christian, Alabama, and UAB standout was approved by the West Jasper School Board as Stringer’s head girls basketball coach.
"I've enjoyed the people that I've known from the Stringer community and area," said Magee. 'I thought it would be a great place to lay a foundation and start a coaching career. Hopefully, I can make a big difference, and I'm excited to do that."
Magee played high school basketball at PCS, racking up quite the accolades, which included being named a Clarion-Ledger Dandy Dozen three times, McDonald's All-American nominee, dubbed 'Player of the Year' by several local newspapers and the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools, and USA Today's ALL-USA Player of the Year for Mississippi.
She became the school’s all-time leading scorer with over 3,000 points, averaging 19.4 points and 11 rebounds as a senior and 22.3 points and 10 rebounds as a junior.
All of that led to Magee being highly recruited in high school, committing to Alabama as a sophomore, and eventually signed with the university. She also received offers from Ole Miss, Southern Miss, Texas Tech, Auburn, and several other notable Division 1 schools.
"I was very fortunate to be able to get some of those accolades and achieve some of those things," Magee said. "The most precious moments to me in high school were not those things. It was the moments of winning a championship with my team, the bus drives, practice, and playing for Missy Bilderback."
Shortly after Magee’s 2015 senior season, Bilderback became the women’s head basketball coach at Jones College.
“Coach Bilderback completely built me as a player,” said Magee. “Coach Bilderback and my AAU coach encouraged me and built up my basketball IQ.”
Magee played in 19 games as a freshman at Alabama before being sidelined due to a left hip injury. Her injury also caused her to miss her entire sophomore season, which later led to a transfer to Jones College.
"Transferring was the only choice I had if I wanted to continue my basketball career," added Magee. "I decided I wanted to play again, and so I came home and got healthy at Jones College."
After her spring semester at Jones College, Magee signed with another university in the state of Alabama — UAB.
"I loved it there," regarding UAB, said Magee. "I graduated a year early and was given an extra year of eligibility. I was able to get my Master's [degree] paid for, which was a two-year program there.
“I was able to play for one of the coaches [Randy Norton] that is widely renowned for his motion offense. It was an incredible opportunity for me as a future coach to learn. He did an incredible job of teaching me.”
Magee also credits her parents, Tommy and Gwen Magee, for the path she is now on.
"My dad is probably the best basketball guru I've ever been around," said Magee. "And my mom started the softball program at Jones College, and the field is named after her. So I've been coached my whole life."
The newly named girls head basketball coach takes over the program at Stringer that finished 8-23 in 2019-2020. Stringer has just one girl's state basketball title (2006).
“I look forward to meeting the girls,” said Magee. “I can't wait to meet them and hopefully teach them a little bit about basketball.
“It’s important to me that I empower the girls that are a part of the program and for them to feel like they can win championships.”