In applying for the Victory Scholarship, I had to answer the question: “ What aspect of the program are you most excited for?” Without a doubt, my response was coaching. From the first “pee wee” basketball team I coached in middle school, I have developed a deep love for helping players improve individually and collectively. I am obsessed with the X’s and O’s- its exciting to think about subbing offense/defense in the last few minutes, calling the right timeouts, and drawing up the right quick hitter for a last second three. Most importantly, I believe that coaches have a unique opportunity to develop their players as people.
Along with scholar Kollyns Scarborough, I have had the opportunity to help coach the Ulster U18 and U20 women’s teams. For both squads, Kollyns and I are assistants under Sport Changes Life Co- Founder Deirdre Brennan. It’s been such a fun learning experience coaching with Deirdre- she knows a ton about the game and is quick to spot a strategic advantage and make an adjustment to exploit it. What has made the biggest impression on me is Deirdre’s emphasis on the relationship side of coaching. She believes that you can be as knowledgable as all get out, but if you can’t communicate effectively and take an interest in your players off the court, you will not be a good coach. It reminds me of something David Hixon, my head coach at Amherst College, said to me last year: “A coach isn’t defined by the amount of wins or losses in their career, but rather the number of former players weddings they attend later in life.” I’ve tried to teach the girls this year that playing basketball is much bigger than any one game. We’ve had fun, made new friends, and developed leadership teamwork, and communication skills that apply to life off the court.
Deirdre has given Kollyns and I a ton of responsibility each week in practice. We are in charge of running an offensive and defensive breakdown, teaching a specific defensive style, and coaching a team in the scrimmage. The experience has helped me effectively communicate the knowledge I have gained as a player over the years. Whether I make a career out of basketball or not, I know I want coaching to remain a huge part of my life. I can’t wait till the next game with the lady elks!