Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Big Dance

I love the fact that nearly 20 years ago the NCAA expanded the field for it's Women's Tennis Championship to 64 and like basketball making the field as an "at large" selection is one of the hardest things to accomplish in Collegiate athletics, their are over 300 Division one tennis programs and each year only 30 or so make as an "at large" selection. It is true measure of success in a season. While I am happy and proud that I have Coached two separate teams to the NCAA Women's Tennis Tournament and made it to a regional final at both places (twice at Purdue, and once so far at Utah, first and only times ever at both places) My good friends and Colleagues Mark Guilbeau and Michael Hegarty have done me one better, Mark has taken two separate teams to the final 16: Kentucky (at least twice, with af a final 8 mixed in)and Virginia twice so far. Michael Hegarty had accomplished something no Coach has ever done: in taking both a men's team (Fresno St) and a Women's Team (Arkansas, final 8). It is very cool to do something that has never been done. Both these guys are friends and I a better Coach and person for knowing them! I will get to Athens a little early this year to support Mark in his quest to take the Cavs to the final four and beyond!?!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Team Building

Previously I have talked about many things that can affect the concept of Team Building. In my mind team building begins during the recruiting process as we as coaches go out to try to find and convince young women to join us here at the University of Utah. If you are going to do a good job of team building you must recruit young women who have the skills necessary to thrive in a team environment. Some coaches feel very strong about doing a lot of team building activities....I am not a huge advocate of that....However I am very much an advocate of putting all the challenges to team unity on the table and dealing with them in an open matter.....What might some of those be? Selfishness (Big in a wealthy persons sport like tennis!), "In your face" competitiveness (I love it, so they have to deal with that cause I am not going to make it go away), passive aggressive behavior (Get it out in the open and deal with it!), Oh and one of my favorites: female stereotypes regarding open dialogue, recently I had a player defend this by saying "you know coach we are girls!" to which I replied no you are not you are Young Women and I expect adult like behavior and that things get dealt with in a "grown up" manner.
In it's simplest form team building involves respecting and getting along with others.....If I want to like you I can focus on the things about you I really like about you and easily find common ground.....If I don't to like you I can focus in on what annoys me about you and easily not like you and have "good" reason not to.
In closing I once said winning is the "magic bullet" the van ride shorter after a win, the food tastes better after a win, the person next to you smells less after a win etc.....but the real challenges to team unity come after a loss. I say judge me on how I handle adversity that is my true measure and I hope by handling it with dignity my team learns from me.....I also know that if they see how much I care about each one of them they will care about each other! As a coach you must take responsibility for team building and sometimes taking responsibility is making the team accountable in this area!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Stress

Several years ago Dick Gould told me he learned to embrace that tightness in the pit of his stomach before a big match......Which got me to thinking.....Why? Answer came to me quickly, many of us spend so much of our lives avoiding or trying to avoid stress rather then accepting it as inevitable and learning to deal with and even embrace because let me tell you.....If you were perfectly relaxed going into that board meeting, speaking engagement, exam, match, date or whatever does the outcome mean as much? No, very likely not. Stress comes from a true desire to succeed and we can play all the mind games in the world to avoid it or we can accept it and learn effective ways to deal with it! What Dick was basically telling me is he loves the challenge and is totally prepared to deal with the stress that entails. Learn to us stress to work for you and you will be more successful! Don't shy away from or run from it!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

PAC 10!

Last Week the University of Utah was invited to join the PAC 10.....An invitation that was readily accepted! I did not leave Purdue and come to Utah three years ago with this being a possibility but with the success we have had in the last 3 years, particularly last year (Mountain West Conference Champs). I feel we are ready for the challenge.
I feel like I have come full circle as I started my Women's Coaching Career as Assistant at Cal closely followed by a stint at UCLA. So in a way I am coming home....I know what it takes to win in our new league and while it is not going to be easy, I am thrilled to have the opportunity. I have many good friends who coach in the PAC 10 and a lot of respect for the coaches in arguably the finest Women's Tennis Conference in the land. I do feel that I have worked very hard over my career to prepare myself to compete at the highest level as a coach....I also believe that without Dr. Chris Hill our AD this would have never happened.
In short I am very thankful for this opportunity but I am also sure that I am ready. GO UTES!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Keep a Score!!!

It seems to me that is a modern day trend in some circles not to keep a score in youth athletic events.....This is an idea that I strongly disagree with.....Not only is it ok for a young person to lose it is actually a tremendous opportunity for growth. The ability to handle loss with dignity, perspective and sportsmanship is an asset that will serve you well throughout your entire life. It is very important that we pick ourselves up "dust ourselves off" and get back in the game. Don't kid yourself there is a scoreboard in every area of life and winners and losers everyday. While I firmly believe that winning is #1, I just as firmly believe that losing is #2....What is 3rd you might ask? Well third is everything else especially not putting it out there in fear of the outcome! So what dose keeping a score from a young age do for us? It gives us a chance to learn determination and recovery needed to overcome the setbacks that occur in the game of life.....Acquire these skills at a young age and they will stay with you for life!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Moutain West Conference Champs!

On Sunday April 18th in Albuquerque, we beat TCU to cap an undefeated conference season and Win the MWC Championship for the first time ever! I don't know that it is always great to be motivated by your doubters or critics but lets face it we all are to some degree.
I always felt that I was a good coach but circumstances that occured prior to my arrival at Utah challenged that thinking. Everything that has happened since my arrival has led me to believe that just about anything is possible if you have a group that believes and is 100% "bought in"!
I am humbled by what we have accomplished here in such a short time and motivated to take it even further in the coming years and as I think about I never really had a lot of doubters! I want to thank many people for believing in me and promise them that I will work hard to never let those who trust and believe in me down!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Respect

Over the years one thing I have learned about the difference between men and women is on the issue of respect.....young men will play hard for their coach even if they do not like him/her as long as they respect him/her. It has been my experience that young women do not as readily differentiate between like and respect....if they don't like you they will have a hard to respecting or putting it on the line for you! Now clearly their are exceptions to this but I certainly believe it to be true!
I remember the story of the famous South Carolina HS Football coach who passed away and at his funeral their was a long line of mourners, about two thirds the way back an older woman stood amongst a group of large former players and asked "you must be very hurt by Coach's passing?" when the players almost unanimously answered "no not really we just wanted to make sure the SOB was dead!" So clearly I think the women have this right! Teach your players the value of respect but always treat them with dignity and never underestimate the impact of a kind word!