On Wednesday, May 7, 2014, University of Rhode Island Director of Athletics Thorr Bjorn announced the hiring of Daynia La-Force as the eighth women’s basketball coach in program history. La-Force came to Rhode Island after spending eight seasons at Northeastern, where she took over a struggling program and made it competitive in the CAA.
"We are thrilled to have Daynia La-Force as the new head coach of the URI women's basketball program," Bjorn said. "After going through an extensive nationwide search, with many exceptional candidates, we felt that Daynia brings all the criteria we were looking for when we started the process."
In the 2014-15 season - her first season at Rhode Island - La-Force led the biggest single-season turnaround in program history, as the Rams finished 17-13 overall, a 10-game improvement from the previous year. Rhode Island went 8-8 in Atlantic 10 play and won a game in the conference tournament for the first time in six seasons. The eight conference wins matched Rhode Island's combined total from the previous six seasons.
Freshman Charise Wilson was the A-10 Rookie of the Year and also earned Third-Team All-Conference honors. Following a nomination by La-Force, senior captain Megan Straumann was accepted into the prestigious Women's Basketball Coaches Association 'So You Want to be a Coach' program.
The first minority woman head coach in Rhode Island history in any sport, La-Force proved she could rebuild a program during her time at Northeastern. She took over the Huskies one year after they made the jump from the America East to the CAA. In her first season, Northeastern struggled to a 4-26 mark, going 3-11 in league play. The next season, La-Force’s squad went 14-16 overall for an improvement of 10 wins. The Huskies also made a five-game jump in the CAA with an 8-10 league mark that same year.
After stabilizing the program, La-Force had a breakthrough season in 2012-13, guiding Northeastern to a 17-13 overall record - including a 10-8 mark in conference play, en route to a fifth-place finish in the CAA. She earned CAA Coach of the Year honors, as the 17 wins marked the most for the program in 13 years while the 10 conference wins and fifth-place finish were NU’s best since joining the CAA in 2004-05.
"I want thank President Dooley, Thorr Bjorn and the members of the search committee for giving me the opportunity to lead the University of Rhode Island’s women’s basketball team," La-Force said. "During the interview process, I witnessed the passion and pride for URI Athletics and the desire for a successful women’s basketball program.
"There is an undeniable commitment from the players, support staff, administration, and alumni to build something special here. The passion and pride of everyone associated with URI Athletics inspired me and helped me in making my decision to become a Ram. It also will be key in our women's basketball program becoming a force to be reckoned with within the Atlantic 10 Conference and nationally. My staff and I will work tirelessly to build a culture of respect, integrity and competitive excellence that the URI Family will be proud to support."
During her time at Northeastern, La-Force recorded the program’s first-ever victories over CAA powers James Madison, Old Dominion and Delaware. In six of her eight seasons, La-Force and the Huskies exceeded preseason coaches' poll expectations.
Additionally, La-Force coached 10 All-CAA performers, including Jewell Tunstull, who became Northeastern’s first player to earn First Team All-CAA and All-Defensive Team honors during the 2013-14 season.
In her time at Northeastern, La-Force experienced success against Atlantic 10 teams, compiling a record of 9-5 against such programs. She won five of her last six contests against A-10 competition. La-Force also came to Rhode Island with a working knowledge of George Mason and VCU, having faced those programs in the CAA before they joined the A-10.
"Danyia has Division I head coaching experience, a reputation for doing things the right way and is a tremendous advocate and resource for student-athlete development," Bjorn added. “She is focused on the student-athlete experience. I am confident that Daynia is the right person to put us in position to compete for Atlantic 10 Championships and help us achieve our postseason aspirations."
Before going to Northeastern, La-Force spent one season as the head coach at New Haven (NCAA Division II), where she guided the Chargers to a 24-4 record as well as the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference championship title. For her efforts, she earned the league’s Coach of the Year award for the 2005-06 season.
La-Force spent 10 seasons as an assistant coach at the Division I level before ascending to the head job at New Haven. She was on the Long Island University staff from 1995-2002. In 2001, she was part of Blackbirds' 2001 Northeast Conference championship squad, advancing to the NCAA Tournament. From 2002-05, she was on the coaching staff at St. John's, which earned a spot in the 2005 WNIT.
A 1995 graduate of Georgetown with a degree in psychology, La-Force was a four-year letterwinner for the Hoyas. As a sophomore, she was part of the 1993 Big East Championship team, helping lead the Hoyas to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
An active member of the National Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and the Black Coaches Association, La-Force earned a master’s degree in school psychology from LIU in 2000. La-Force has two sons, Terrance and Martin.