Original article (Valerie Nainima Joins Women’s Basketball Program As An Assistant Coach & Recruiting Coordinator) on Providence College’s athletic website friars.com.
Providence College first-year women’s basketball Head Coach Erin Batth announced today [March 27] that Valerie Nainima will join her staff as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. Nainima spent the previous two seasons as an assistant at Michigan and shared the sidelines with Batth in Ann Arbor during the 2022-23 campaign.
“I am thrilled to add Valerie to our staff and program,” Batth said. “Val is a proven coach who has the drive and desire to win in everything she does. She has over a decade of coaching experience and has helped lead her teams to multiple NCAA Tournament appearances. Not only will Val bring a wealth of coaching knowledge, she also will draw from her playing experiences at the NCAA Division I and professional level. Val played collegiately for one of the games’ top coaches in Dawn Staley at South Carolina and also has extensive professional and national team experience. Val is a high-energy coach who is passionate about the student athletes’ overall development on the court and in life. She is an unbelievable person, and I cannot wait to get things rolling with her!”
During her two seasons with the Wolverines, Nainima was responsible for coaching the point guards. Michigan qualified for the NCAA Tournament during each of her two seasons, advancing to the Elite Eight in 2021-22 and finishing with a 25-7 overall record. In 2022-23, she and Batth helped guide the Maize and Blue to a 23-10 overall record (11-7 Big Ten) and was ranked in the national polls for 19-consecutive weeks. Michigan was ranked as high as No. 12 during the 2022-23 campaign and checked in at No. 18 in the final poll heading into the NCAA Tournament. Michigan advanced to the Second Round, before falling to ninth-ranked and No. 3 seed LSU, 66-42, on March 19. Nainima worked closely with AP All-America Honorable Mention selection and All-Big Ten honoree Leigha Brown. Brown averaged 17.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, 5.8 assists per game. In 2022-23, Brown dished 174 assists marking the third-highest single-season total in Michigan women’s basketball history – and just four assists shy of the record.
Nainima spent a total of seven seasons at Fordham, beginning as the program’s video coordinator (2014-17) and serving as an assistant for her final four seasons in the Bronx (2017-21). She helped the Rams to three postseason appearances, including an NCAA Tournament berth in 2019. The Rams strung together three 20-win seasons during that time. Nainima served as acting head coach for a game during the 2020-21 season, helping Fordham to a 72-58 win over Hofstra. During her tenure, she worked with back-to-back Atlantic 10 Player of the Year selections, Bre Cavanaugh (2019-20) and Anna DeWolfe (2020-21).
Nainima hails from Rakiraki, Fiji, where she worked as a development officer and high-performance manager for Basketball Fiji. She coordinated and launched the first Hoops for Health Workshop program for Fiji and the South Pacific, while also planning and managing the Tuckers Fiji Secondary Schools Championships. She trained and mentored the Fiji National U19 teams to the 2014 FIBA USP U19 Oceania Championships, an event she helped organize in its inaugural year.
Nainima has competed with her country’s senior team since she was 17 years old, serving as its captain for more than a decade. She most recently competed with Fiji at the 2019 FIBA Pacific Games, averaging 16.4 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game in helping Fiji to a runner-up finish.
Nainima began her collegiate playing career at LIU Brooklyn and finished at South Carolina. Nainima was first player in Northeast Conference history to earn Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year honors in the same season after finishing as the nation’s top-scoring freshman (17.3 ppg). During her sophomore season, Nainima averaged 20.4 points per game and was the fastest player in LIU history to reach 1,000 career points.
After transferring to South Carolina and playing for head coach Dawn Staley, Nainima averaged 17.3 points per game as a junior en route to All-SEC second-team honors. She then suffered an injury late in the summer before her senior season, but Nainima fought to come back for the final three months of her final year. She ended her career as one of the program’s most prolific three-point shooters, graduating eighth in career triples (115), 10th in career attempts (340) and fourth in three-point field goal percentage (.338). Nainima graduated from South Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management and Marketing.
Nainima went on to play professionally in Germany for New Basket Oberhausen and spent three seasons with the team. She also coached a U17 team in the organization during her playing tenure.