NHS alum proves she’s a playmaker
Sioux City, Iowa – Ceilings don’t exist in Brittni Donaldson’s world.
The North High School alumni was breaking barriers long before she made headlines as the NBA’s youngest coach and first female coach of the Toronto Raptors.
As a North High student, Brittni loved math and science. She excelled as one of very few female students in her AP chemistry and physics classes, something she attributes to her teachers. Mrs. Monique Reed was a “force in that [AP chemistry] class” and David Dziurawiec in physics “empowered me daily” says Brittni.
“Mr. D would constantly tell me I was a role model for his daughter, who had a great interest in playing sports. He made a point to connect with me and make me feel included, important, and intelligent,” recalls Brittni. “He even brought his daughter to one of my NBA games a couple of years ago. It was really special.”
Making a name for herself at North High – including a spot on the school’s 2009 Class 4A state basketball championship team, Brittni set her sights on the University of Northern Iowa, playing basketball and graduating with a degree in statistics and actuarial science. Upon her graduation in 2015, Brittni entered the workforce as a data analyst for STATS, a sports data and tech company in Chicago.
Brittni’s love for basketball led her first to a position in the Toronto Raptors’ front office as a basketball data analyst and then courtside. In 2017, Brittni transitioned to a coaching role on the Raptors’ staff. At the time, she was the youngest coach in the NBA and the first female coach in the Raptors’ organization.
“My parents have been the most supportive parents in the world throughout both my educational and professional careers. They have instilled confidence in me and supported my goals, even if those goals weren’t ‘typical’ for someone like me. I have been able to navigate my professional career self-assured because they instilled that confidence in me at a young age,” says Brittni.
After four years with the Raptors, Brittni’s professional path pivoted and she stepped away from the NBA to spend a year co-founding Strata Athletics, a youth sports program focused on life and leadership development.
“At Strata, we use learning-based teaching methods to focus on both athletic and personal development over performance to keep youth engaged in sports longer,” adds Brittni, who accepted a role as an assistant coach and Director of Coaching Analytics with the Detroit Pistons in September of 2022.
While she has paved new roads – and inspired so many in the process, Brittni says success starts with confidence and conviction.
“Don’t let anyone tell you what you can or cannot be, or what you should or should not be interested in. Surround yourself with people who will be supportive of your passions. Every young kid has goals, and sometimes all it takes is someone else believing in and nurturing those goals for those goals to come to fruition.”