The 2014 Union High School graduate is the new head coach at Columbia River
She showed up to her old high school wearing a new color
Tuileisu “Tee” Anderson wears purple these days, representing Columbia River High School, but she will always love and appreciate the red of Union High School.
The former Titan, who graduated from Union in 2014 and holds many school records with the girls basketball program, is now the head coach of Columbia River.
Her first game in charge of the Rapids program was Wednesday.
It was not a coincidence that her first game was at Union High School.
Union girls basketball coach Gary Mills reached out to Anderson to congratulate her last summer when Anderson was named River’s head coach. In that same conversation, he brought up the idea that Anderson could coach her first game, back home at Union.
“I loved that,” Anderson said. “I’m now coaching my own program and I get to go back to my alma mater where I have so many special memories here. I’ve met lifelong friends (at Union). It’s really special, something I can’t really describe.”
She saw some familiar faces on Wednesday, too.
“Some of the same teachers and staff are still here. They were all excited and confused as to why I have River gear on,” Anderson said.
Anderson excelled at Division II Colorado State University Pueblo after high school. She is the leader in career games played for the ThunderWolves and is the school’s second-leading scorer.
Upon graduation, she returned to Clark County. She became a school counselor, working for Vancouver Public Schools last year at Columbia River. This year, she is at McLoughlin Middle School.
Since graduating college in 2018, she has also kept her presence in the game she loves.
She worked with Advanced Athletic Academy with Brad Packer, and with Matt Conboy at Conboy Basketball. She was an assistant at La Salle High School in Portland under legendary coach Kelli Wedin. Anderson said she has picked the brain of all of them, as well as those who coached her while growing up and into college.
When Columbia River’s job opened up, she had several people reach out to her.
“I knew I would be ready for it. Something was telling me I should take advantage of the opportunity, to give back to a community that has given so much to me,” Anderson said. “I didn’t go to River, but I am from this community. To share my experience is the goal. Here we are.”
Anderson said she wants to harness all the energy and passion she had as a player and create a program with a new culture and new traditions.
She appreciates being able to do it in her hometown, even if she is on the other side of town.
There was no storybook ending to Anderson’s first chapter as a head coach. Columbia River, a Class 2A team playing without two injured starters, faced a hungry Class 4A team. Union won handedly.
Union did welcome Anderson to the gym with a pre-game announcement. She appreciated the salute.
Anderson also got a close-up look at one of her favorite athletes. Anderson helped train Union sophomore Brooklynn Haywood, one of the top scorers in the state, starting when Haywood was a sixth grader.
Haywood and her family, it should be noted, moved this past offseason. The Haywoods had a change of heart, the family moved back to the Union boundary, and Brooklynn has told Anderson that she will soon have Anderson’s school records. Anderson is the program leader in points scored.
“She can take that one,” Anderson said, “but she’s not going to take the charge record or the steals record. Those are going to be mine.”
Haywood had 16 points, 10 assists, and seven rebounds in Union’s victory Wednesday. In her freshman season, Haywood scored more than half of Anderson’s career mark of 1,005 points.
“I will root for her,” Anderson said. “I wouldn’t want it to be anyone but Brooklynn. I have known her since she was a tiny little thing.”
In fact, Anderson coached youth boys and girls in AAU ball through the years. Many of them are playing high school basketball these days throughout Clark County.
She said she will support all of them, but she will proudly wear the purple of Columbia River.
Tee Anderson is at home when she is on a basketball coach. Wednesday night, she was on the home court where she became a high school basketball star.
And now, she is a high school basketball head coach.
“I honestly think it’s super special. This community has given a lot to me,” Anderson said. “I think it’s beautiful I get to come back and be part of something special that is still in Vancouver.”
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