Coach Dre Jefferson’s journey with basketball


Max Froehlich

Photo By: Max Froehlich. A headshot of Dre Jefferson.

Lauren Chang, Staff Writer

Basketball has always been a big part of Dre Jefferson’s life. “I say basketball saved my life. I grew up in a difficult area, and basketball always kept me in the gym and out of trouble; it allowed me to be successful in life,” Jefferson said.

Jefferson is the new head coach for Edina Girls’ Varsity Basketball. He is grateful that he found basketball as an outlet for his energy because it inspired him to become a coach later on in life. “I feel like I owe it to the game because the game has given so much to me,” he said. Jefferson started coaching basketball in 2010 for the eighth grade boys at the International School of Minnesota (ISM), where he later became the JV coach.

After coaching at ISM, he took on assistant coaching positions at St. Louis Park High School and Hopkins High School. Many of Jefferson’s former players have commended his passion for the sport and how it impacted them. Amaya Battle, a freshman playing for the Minnesota Golden Gophers Women’s Basketball, was coached by Jefferson at Hopkins. “When I play now, I try to understand the game more because that’s what I’ve picked up from Dre; I want to grow my basketball IQ,” she said. “I remember he would show [the team] a play and say he got it from a random overseas country, and in my head, I was like, ‘This guy really loves the game.’”

12 years later, Jefferson got a job as a head coach for Edina Girls’ Basketball. “I want to give back in the same way that my coaches gave to me…I want to be that person that influences people’s lives. Everybody needs those.” 

When Jefferson heard there was an opening to be a head coach at Edina High School, he found everything he was looking for.  “I wanted to find a place that had a supportive athletic director, a great youth program, and [a team that] plays in a great conference. And Edina has all those things…I’ve coached in the conference for several years, so I know that there has always been good kids here that work hard. That’s the basics of any program.” 

Although the basketball season hasn’t started yet, Jefferson is already making a positive impact on the players and the culture of the EHS basketball program. Varsity Captain senior Isa Nelson first met Jefferson in April. “I met with him before summer [practices] started, and in mid-July, we started having lunches every two weeks to talk about the season and what he expected of me,” she said. “He’s been really helpful because [when taking on the role of captain] you don’t really know what you’re doing. He’s helped us jump into it and he’s been really supportive.”

Jefferson values camaraderie and is excited to build connections throughout the program. “I think sports are an opportunity for you to build community…and lifelong relationships. It’s another avenue for young people to find who they are,” he said. As an athlete, Jefferson is still connected to his former teammates and believes sports are all about the people you meet.

“He is always giving the game everything he has and then some.” – Amaya Battle

“I realized the game is much bigger than the score…I tell players, you’re going to remember the bus rides, the fall workouts, the pasta dinners, all those things. But the games, and the shots, the makes and misses; all that stuff fades pretty quickly. All the in-between times, the good times, the locker room, and stuff, sticks around forever. So that’s why I emphasize it a lot,” he said.

Outside of coaching, basketball continues to impact Jefferson’s life today. “I have a daughter who loves the game. That’s one of the reasons I coach as well, and it’s something that we share,” Jefferson said. “I just love the game. I played my whole life…it’s something that brings me together with the people I love.”