Slaughter faces new challenge coaching 716ers

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Slaughter faces new challenge coaching 716ers

Tawan Slaughter bought and is coaching the Buffalo 716ers, a semi-pro basketball team.

Tawan Slaughter bought and is coaching the Buffalo 716ers, a semi-pro basketball team.

Buffalo State Sports Information

Tawan Slaughter bought and is coaching the Buffalo 716ers, a semi-pro basketball team.

Buffalo State Sports Information

Buffalo State Sports Information

Tawan Slaughter bought and is coaching the Buffalo 716ers, a semi-pro basketball team.

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Tawan Slaughter is well aware that marketing a semi-professional basketball team in a weak Buffalo economy is no easy task.

The Buffalo 716ers are the fourth semi-pro basketball team to be created in Buffalo since 2005, with the previous three folding soon after their inceptions.

But that seems like nothing compared to the daunting challenge of being a woman coaching a men’s basketball team.

Still, Slaughter is far from discouraged, and the way she sees it, there’s no one better qualified for the job.

“With the playing and coaching experience I have, it shouldn’t matter that I’m a woman,” Slaughter said. “I’ve already proven myself capable, I’ve coached at a high level, and I have a resume that a lot of men don’t.”

Slaughter has coached both men’s and women’s varsity basketball at Oracle Charter School in Buffalo for the past six years, was the assistant head coach for the Erie Community College men’s team in 2007, and was given division coach of the year honors when she took the 716ers to play in Los Angeles in an NBA-sanctioned summer pro league in July.

The 716ers’ roster currently features fifteen players, with experience ranging from those who haven’t played outside of high school to former division-II players to guys who played on previously disbanded semi-pro teams.

Slaughter admits she has faced discrimination within the Buffalo community, but has felt nothing but respect from both her team and the professional basketball community.

“People are a little bit more cautious because I’m a female,” Slaughter said. “I’ve seen a lot of opposition from the Buffalo community in the past year. But at the NBA summer pro league everyone completely embraced it, they celebrated it, and they were happy that there was a female doing something of this caliber. As far as from the players, I haven’t seen much disrespect from those guys. I think that’s mainly because I’ve been where those guys are trying to go and they know I’m trying to help them get there.”

Slaughter distinguished herself as a point guard in high school at Christian Central Academy, and later at Fredonia and Buffalo State. She then tried out for the Washington Mystics and Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA before deciding to give up her pursuit of a professional basketball career, at least as a player.

Slaughter’s main goal is to bring professional basketball back to Buffalo, and hopes that creating a loyal fan base for semi-pro basketball could prove that Buffalo is a suitable market for an NBA team. She also wants to provide a platform for her players to move on to bigger and better things.

“The first thing we’re trying to do is bring professional basketball back to Buffalo, New York,” Slaughter said. “There hasn’t been a professional team here since the Braves moved to (San Diego) in 1978. Secondly, we want to get our players opportunities to play at the next level.  Buffalo really doesn’t have many opportunities as far as basketball goes. This is an outlet to show these guys that didn’t get recruited to big-name colleges that there are still opportunities.”

The 716ers begin their regular season on New Year’s Eve at 7pm in Rochester when they will tip-off against the Rochester Razorbacks. Their home games are played at Tapestry Charter School, which is located at 65 Great Arrow Ave. in Buffalo.

Slaughter said that she is confident that her team is poised to have a successful year in its inaugural season.

“We’re gelling, the guys are feeling confident,” she said. “They’re excited, and we’ve been looking for this outlet for so long that there’s no doubt in my mind that they’re going to go out and show everybody that they deserve to be playing at the next level. We’re going to come out and shock the world.”

Email: almasi.record@live.com

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