“We won the Little East Conference with a 27-1 Record”
“We are Hosting an NCAA Regional!”
“An Unexpected Loss”
“First Season of Coaching in the Books”
These are all headlines I should have had in my blog in the past month. I’ve been more focused on my half-marathon training and thought I’d keep my basketball thoughts to myself for a later date. Enter later date:
At the beginning of season I wasn’t sure what to expect from Division III basketball players and this new job of mine as a coach. At the end of the season I’ve found that you can’t expect or assume anything, every day is bound to surprise you.
But as the season was FLYING by, our team managed only one loss on the regular season and were nationally ranked throughout the year. I always found that hard to believe: of the over 400 Division III women’s basketball teams in the country we were in the top 25. The funny thing is I felt we were good but I also felt we had a LOT we could improve on.
In the end, we won our conference, were able to host four teams in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, and ended with a disappointing 22-point loss on our home court. The loss was hard to take and almost even surprising to leave the tournament so early but, I’ll tell you, losing as an assistant coach is much easier to take than losing as a player.
I am a pretty empathetic person, though: I’ve lost many, many games in my life and I’ve also been at the point when I thought my basketball career was over (twice) so I felt for the seniors, especially. It’s not a good feeling to wonder what’s next and know that basketball as you know it, something that is such a huge part of your life, is over.
Here are ten things I learned this year, my first year as a college coach:
- Assistant Coaches don’t get any recognition. This probably seems obvious but the up side to this is that things are rarely ever your fault.
- The Suggestion Queen. I have never made so many suggestions in my life. “Want to try this defense?” “Should we sub her?” “Need a timeout here?” Looking back this was great for me; I’ve always been pretty indecisive so a lot of times I was very content not to have to make the final decision on anything.
- I can still play basketball. Luckily I got to practice just enough and along with other workouts have been able to stay in basketball shape. (For what reason? I don’t know). But being on the scout team I think I played more defense in those ten or twelve times I got to practice than I have in my whole life. Oops.
- These athletes are still learning. Some of them weren’t familiar with many basketball terms that have been a part of my vocabulary for a long time. But I guess that’s why I’m a coach…
- It’s nice to have a player come to you with a question or an idea. The players seem to trust that you know what you are talking about. I think this surprised me just because I am young (I look younger) and this was my first real coaching gig.
- Same goes for the head coach. Coach Fifield has been doing this for over 25 years and he still valued my thoughts, ideas, and opinions. Doesn’t mean he always inflicted them but I always believed he truly took them into account. I don’t know if this would have happened anywhere.
- Just like any other job or experience I can take things with me that I might do in the future and I can see things that I wouldn’t want to make a part of my coaching philosophy and, really, life philosophy.
- In the end, I miss playing competitive basketball a little bit but not nearly as much as I thought I would. Sitting on the bench I had too much to focus on and think about to have time to wish that I was on the court. (Plus I was always in non-playable heels).
- I like college coaching but I’m not sure it’s going to be a lifelong thing for me. On top of everything the money is part time and the benefits are none so unless I marry a millionaire or find another job I love that could fit with college coaching hours this couldn’t be a long term thing.
- I may never get sick of basketball. I coach it, play it, talk about it, read about it, write about it, and watch it on TV; whatever I decide to do with my career, basketball will never leave me.
My Conclusion? Surprise! I don’t have one but I think I might do the college coaching thing for another year….