Coach Dameka Reese

Coach Tara Kallal

Season(s) Coaching the Divas: 2014-2016
Linebackers Coach – 2016
Assistant Coach – 2014-2015

Playing Experience:
D.C. Divas, 2005-2008
Baltimore Burn, 2002-2003

Coach Dameka Reese Q&A

Why did you decide to get into coaching after your playing career was over?
I got into coaching while I was playing flag football. I was suffering from some injuries with my feet, so I really couldn’t play anymore but I still wanted to be a part of the sport. Meanwhile, there were a lot of girls who either couldn’t get on or didn’t want to play on some of the bigger flag football teams in the area at that time. A group of us decided to put together our own flag football team, and they needed a coach. So I started my coaching career almost out of necessity, and I wound up coaching flag football for five years.

I also coached basketball at my old high school in the summer. I definitely enjoyed it, because they were young kids and you can kind of mold them. It’s so much more involved at that level than just teaching the sport. You’re also helping them in life, and I enjoyed that part. When I got into coaching with the Divas, I didn’t know if it was going to be that same type of thing, but it really is. I really enjoy the interpersonal interactions coaches have with players.

What has been your biggest adjustment from playing women’s football to coaching it?
My biggest adjustment was learning to coach a position I never played. I played strong safety with the Baltimore Burn, and when I came to the Divas, I played cornerback. Coach Fischer approached me last year and wanted to add me to her staff, but she was already serving as the defensive backs coach. She told me that the team could really use me as a linebackers coach, because the Divas’ previous linebackers coach had left and she really liked my energy.

When I played, one thing I always knew a lot about was tackling. [Coach Reese is widely regarded as one of the hardest-hitting defensive backs in Divas history.] But honestly, it’s really hard to teach someone to have that animalistic approach. They say you can’t teach heart, and in the same way, it’s sometimes hard to teach players how to have that animal instinct and intense desire to make a tackle. However, the other part of playing linebacker is learning how to tackle properly, and I have definitely been able to give my input on that because I believe I was always taught how to tackle properly.

But I’ll be honest, I had to get a crash course on the basics of linebacker play when I first took the job. Learning a position that I’d never played before and then having to coach it to veterans and rookies alike was a challenge.

How has your background as a women’s football player helped you as a coach?
I can relate to what the players are doing and what they’re going through. When you have male coaches with such a high football acumen, I think it’s very helpful for someone like me to be able to sometimes translate for the players. There can be a disconnect at times, and I can help bridge that gap.

For instance, Coach Black [Jerome Davis] and I are the same age; we graduated high school the same year. But his football education is way above mine, because he grew up playing football and played the sport his whole life. Because I played women’s football for years, I can not only understand what they’re saying but I can also translate their intellect into terms that our current players – many of whom are still developing – can understand. I guess my football background helps me to be a better translator.

What is your overall coaching philosophy? How would you like your players to play the game?
I want my players to feel comfortable enough to just go out there and rely on the God-given instincts that a lot of them already have as athletes. I don’t want my players to think too much. At the end of the day, I want to get them to the point where they can just play football instinctively. Also, I want them to be aggressive, but I want them to be clean. I want them to be able to control their intensity and show aggression within the guidelines of the game.

I hope that, because of our coaching, our players end up being much more advanced in their football knowledge after their first or second year than I was after my first or second year. I want my players to understand the game so well that one of them is eventually able to take my place, and I want to make sure that we always have a steady supply of good coaches for young girls who want to play in the future.