Sonia Raman: First Indian-Origin Female Coach of NBA Team
Meet Sonia Raman, who has joined Vin Bhavnani (Oklahoma City Thunder) and Roy Rana (Sacramento Kings) to be the third Indian-origin coach in the National Basketball Association.
Born and brought up in the US to Indian origin parents (her mother is from Nagpur and father hails from Chennai), Sonia has scripted history by becoming the first Indian origin woman to be appointed as a coach in the NBA.
With this, she becomes the 14th female assistant coach in the history of the NBA and the 10th among current coaching staffers in the league. She becomes the seventh female coach to be hired as an assistant in the league since the beginning of the 2019-20 season.
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Based in the Boston area, Raman is a lawyer by degree. Before being appointed by the Memphis Grizzlies, she was the head women’s basketball coach at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At MIT, she led the students to two consecutive conference title wins in 2018 and 2019, becoming the ‘all-time winningest coach’ in MIT’s history.
Sonia, who coached MIT for 12 years will join head coach Taylor Jenkins’s staff on November 1. Before MIT, Raman was the top assistant coach at Wellesley College for six years.
Her other achievements include being named the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, two times.
She comes in place of Niele Ivey, a former Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) star who left to take up head coach’s role at University of Notre Dame.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of the Memphis Grizzlies coaching staff,” she was quoted as saying by the Grizzlies in a release. “I can’t wait to get to Memphis and get started with Taylor, his staff and the team’s emerging young core,” she said.
“I must also give a truly special thank you to MIT and the women I’ve had the honour of coaching for the past 12 years. I wish the program continued success.”
Raman graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tufts University, the same place where she started her coaching career.
In interviews, Raman mentioned how there have never been any barriers for her in her profession, and that there were opportunities aplenty for Indian Americans in the NBA. She advised those looking to follow in her footsteps to always be a student of the game and said that network, access, and opportunity were the resources that would help accelerate a career.
She added that she feels lucky to have always been embraced as an Indian woman, both as a player and a coach.