May 26, 2009
It's been about a week now since the U19 trials. As I reflect back, I can't help but think about what a fun and intense weekend it was!! It was full of nervous energy, anxiety, laughter and camaraderie. There is nothing like working with some of our country's best women's basketball players.
The entire support staff arrived last Wednesday which included all the USA Basketball coaches, court coaches, and trainers. We all got together with Carol Callan (Women's National Team Director) for dinner. We discussed the schedule for the weekend and expectations for everyone at the table. We were all excited to get started but had to go get a good nights rest in order to be ready for the next few days.
The players were not set to arrive until Thursday afternoon so we had the morning to go over our practice plan for the first session that began on Thursday night. What was different than the other trials I've participated in was that this time the World University trials were going on the same time as the U19 trials. The World University team is an older team that consists of juniors and seniors in college and will be participating in Serbia this summer. One of the highlights of having trials at the same time as the older team was getting hugs from Mya Moore, Tina Charles, Jayne Appel, Kayla Petterson, Jantel Lavender and Amy Jaeske. They were all on the U18 and U19 teams I coached as an assistant. It was great to see them all and it's amazing how much older and mature they look. They are all trying out for the World University team and I wish them all the best! What a great group of young ladies.
Our first session Thursday night was light. Carol Callan started by introducing everybody on staff and the coaches for both teams. I received a huge compliment from Carol when she told all the ladies that I was the coach there with the most USA basketball experience! Seems small, but I was extremely honored. I knew that all the players would be nervous. It was a long day for them, with traveling and photos, interviews, paperwork etc. The practice consisted of shooting, drills, and we introduce the offense for the weekend. Oh, and did I mention the high altitude? These players were winded and their legs were cramping on the first day!
The next day, Friday morning was even more of a struggle. The players looked sluggish so we did some things to help them pick up their intensity...LOL. I have to admit, each session got better after that. We did a lot of scrimmaging, it was the best way the committee could evaluate each player's strengths and weaknesses.
Then before I knew it, it was judgment day! Sunday morning is when the team gets selected. It's probably my least favorite part of the trials. It's hard for me to see the faces of the young women that don't make the team. To be honest they are all really good, however we can only take 12.
Whew!! That's over... The finalists have been selected. The committee decided to select 14 finalists which will eventually be cut down to 12. We met with the finalist for about an hour. Carol went over FIBA rules, and other important information. I also talked to the team, mainly about my expectations and how they needed to be in shape and mentally prepared to work. Let's hope they listened and realize what an honor it is to represent USA Basketball. I know I do!
Overall, I was very happy with the trials and the ladies that were selected as finalists. I thought my assistants Bill Fennelly and Amanda Butler did an awesome job during the trials. Not only are they great coaches but their energy and passion for the game is contagious! I can't wait to get back to Colorado Springs to get after it and then off the Bangkok to capture the Gold!