March 8th is a day that will live on in Louisiana history. For North Central, it was their first boys basketball state championship in program history. But for head Coach Apphia Jordan, she became only the 2nd female in state history to lead a boys basketball team to a title.
“I’m a firm believer that for my daughter and any other woman walking on this earth, that we can do anything they put their minds to,” Jordan said after winning the 1A Championship over Booker T Washington.
Apphia Jordan couldn’t imagine this life when she was a star player for the Lady Hurricanes. The all-state selection had ambitions to be a teacher. But after her former coach Vanessa Taylor recruited her to join her staff as an assistant, a few years later she was the head coach of the Opelousas High girls basketball team.
“They gave me a run for my money,” Jordan laughs. “I wasn’t ready yet.”
Jordan left the OHS girls program in 2011 and vowed to never coach again. Then four years later, the unthinkable happened, as she had an interview for the boys basketball job at her alma mater.
“I took a leap of faith. I remember telling my sisters I’m going to do it. If i don’t get the job then it’s not meant to be and if I do then it’s going to be something great. I knew that in my soul.”
Jordan’s hire took some time getting used to for her players.
“We got a girl coach, so we gotta see how this is going to go,” NCHS Junior Center Nikembe Johnson said. “In the parish, we have a bunch of boys coaches. They don’t think she could do what they could do.”
Even still every night, there’s chatter in the bleachers doubting her abilities.
“It wasn’t until last year where it was like listen. If you live by people’s opinion, you’re going to die by them as well,” Jordan explained.
“Once we started winning, they couldn’t say anything,” Hurricanes Sophomore Forward Derrick Tezeno added.
After years of improvement, the Canes reached the semifinals in 2018. But now, the adversity was coming from her personal life. The mother of 3 was dealing with a divorce and other life altering changes.
“The woman trainer who is with us is my partner. I was so afraid of what the boys were going to do,” Jordan revealed. “I knew they were different when they embraced the both of us and they never treated us different. That’s when I realized that people are going to love you for who you are.”
The Hurricanes stormed through 2019, finishing the regular season 26-6. Even when Jordan missed a month after gallbladder surgery, her players never wavered .
“When she was sick one part of the season, we wanted to prove that without her she’s taught us so much,” Tezeno said. “We wanted to prove that everything she taught us is in us when she’s not here.”
The championship win was a long time coming for a proud basketball program. And a reward worth waiting for, for a battle tested head coach.
“If I couldn’t handle those things. I don’t even deserve a championship,” Jordan said. “That’s who it comes to. It comes to those who, in spite of good or bad, they rise to the occasion.”