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A simple comment in passing ultimately led to a career change for Chrissy Givens.

A while back Givens suggested to Ouachita coaches that the Lady Lion job would be the only job to keep her in Monroe. Word got around, and before Givens knew it, Ouachita Parish High School Principal Larry Long was calling her to gauge her interest.

“The timing couldn’t have been better,” Givens said. “All of this stuff with the coronavirus, I started to doubt whether or not I wanted to go back overseas to play.”

You read that correctly. Before ever speaking with Long, Givens was still an active professional basketball player. She played last season with a team based in Romania called the ACS Sepsi SIC. She had been preparing her body for another season with the club, before her dream job stopped her in her tracks.

“I always saw myself coming back to Monroe to coach because I enjoy it,” Givens said. “Evne when I would come home from playing professional basketball, I always found myself coaching youth basketball in some way, working with an AAU team.”

Givens, who earned Class 5A MVP honors with Ouachita in 2003 before earning Sun Belt Player of the Year honors at Middle Tennessee State and going on to be selected by the Phoenix Mercury in the third round in 2007 before playing overseas years later, takes over for former coach Amber Obaze-Ford.

Fresh off of a 32-7 season where the Lady Lions played for the Class 5A State Championship, Obaze-Ford accepted the head coaching position for Summerfield earlier in the week. In her four seasons as the Lady Lions head coach, Obaze-Ford won 75 percent of her games, while reaching four consecutive quarterfinals. The Lady Lions won three district championships under Obaze-Ford.

Now the Lady Lions will be led by a player whose jersey hangs in the rafters.

“I definitely feel like it was a gift from God because at the end of the day, I still love to play,” Givens said. “I’ll always love it. It’s just under these circumstances, it was getting harder to leave my family. I still do the grocery shopping for my parents while this is all going on. And plus, as my nephews get older, I want to spend more time with them here in Monroe.”

As a player at Ouachita, Givens recorded more than 2,500 points and 1,000 rebounds in her stellar career. As she ventures into her first coaching gig, she feels like the years spent playing professionally will pay dividends.

“I think that’s why the coaches kept wanting me to come back because I was constantly teaching the younger players we had on the team,” said Givens, who will turn 35 this year.

“I’m ready to work with these girls because I hear they’re very talented. I think when I demonstrate a move they’ll be able to tell I still got it. I told myself that when I left the game, I wanted to still be able to play it at a high level. And so walking away hasn’t been as hard as I thought. I’m just really into helping people become functional athletes, and that’s why this move makes sense for me.”  

Award-winning sports writer for columns and features since joining the field in 2013. As the first-ever featured columnist of the month at Bleacher Report, Martin cut his teeth with online media before joining the newspaper business in 2014.

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