Wednesday, August 12, 2015


I'm sure you have heard the story of the businessman who was traveling late at night when his car ran off the road into a ditch.  Needing immediate assistance, the businessman walked up the road to an old farmhouse.  The farmer came to the door and the businessman explained his situation.  The farmer told him he had a mule, named Bessie, out in the barn that was old and blind but he would see if she could help.  So the farmer led Bessie down the road and tied her to the front of the car.  The businessman watched in anticipation as the farmer cracked his whip and yelled "pull Molly"...and nothing happened.  After a few seconds, the farmer cracked his whip again and yelled "pull Gus" and once again, nothing.  The businessman looked puzzled while the farmer once again cracked his whip and yelled "pull Bessie".  All of a sudden Bessie started walking steadily and pulled the businessman's car out of the ditch.  The businessman who was very grateful but still a little confused ask the farmer "why the different names, why didn't you just yell Bessie the first time".  The farmer replied "remember me telling you Bessie was old and blind, if she would have known she was by herself there's no way she would have been able to pull your car out of the ditch".
Of course the idea of this story is that we can accomplish more as a team.  When we pull together as a group we can achieve so much more.  The month of July for the women's basketball program here at Arkansas State is an example of that.  While most people think of basketball during the months of November - March a lot of hard work goes on during the other months as well.  One of the busiest months of the year for a Division I Women's Basketball program is July.  I am extremely grateful for the hard work and dedication that my "team" (I'm not only referring to our student-athletes when I say team) put in during July.

Here are a few examples of how our team pulled together:
An entire new staff was put in place this Spring / fact, two of our new assistant coaches arrived in Jonesboro on July 1st.  We quickly had to get everyone on the same page for recruiting since this is a big year for us (having 5 seniors).  On Saturday, July 4th (while most people were at the lake, watching fireworks, spending time with family, etc.) our entire staff met for 5 hours to talk about recruiting, team expectations, players expectations along with coaching duties and responsibilities.  Sunday, July 5th our team arrived back on campus for the second summer term.  After meeting with the team that night, myself and three assistant coaches hit the road
recruiting.  Over the remainder of the month our staff attended 18 different recruiting events and I am extremely grateful to Autumn Rademacher, Deidra Johnson and Steve Huber for logging a lot of hours and a lot of miles.  I also appreciate how easy and enjoyable they made the month of recruiting for me.  As the head coach it is important for me to be at as many of our top recruits' games as possible and this takes a lot of organization on the assistants part.  When I would arrive at an event one of the assistants had already spent hours mapping out the games and making sure I was at the right location each hour (and while that doesn't sound like a tough task keep in mind that one event had 56 different games going each hour and at different locations).  The recruiting piece of July, in some years, has been very stressful to me but thanks to the organization of this group it was a productive and low stress month for me.  The fact that they had to organize and pull this month together in a very short amount of time was very impressive.  I also have to recognize the efforts of Karan Gilliland, our administrative assistant, who had to quickly get a new staff organized and on the road.  She worked several consecutive late nights along with working on July 3rd (which was a University holiday) to help with travel plans and all the required paperwork so that the four of us could go out.
I'm also very excited about the effort that our team put in during the month of July.  Again, they all arrived on campus July 5th, started classes and workouts on the 6th.  Imagine a team of 14 showing up for a team meeting the afternoon of July 5th, meeting four new assistant coaches and a new strength coach and then as soon as the meeting ends myself and three of those coaches leave for a week recruiting...that is what this team faced.  But, it says a lot for this group and especially the seniors for how well they handled the transition and how well they handled themselves throughout the month.  There is no question in my mind that our team got better physically during July, they got better as basketball players during the month and they pulled off another successful academic term as they combined to have a 3.27gpa.  Very few teams could have handled this as successfully as this group did and I'm extremely proud of them for that.  We have five seniors on this year's team and I can't say enough about each of them and how they approached this month with such focus and determination and seemed unfazed by all the changes.

The other members of our "team" that did a great job this past month are Logan Mittie (our new Director of Basketball Operations), Rebekah Sittig (new strength and conditioning coach), Julie Ellena (Trainer) and Crimsynn Dover (academic advisor).  Logan, arrived July 1st and was quickly thrown into the job.  While the four of us hit the road recruiting she was given the task of overseeing our program while we were gone (looking out for the players and taking care of their needs, handling requests from myself and the other assistants while we were out of the office recruiting and at the same time trying too adjust to a new environment herself).  Rebekah Sittig was hired as our new strength and conditioning coach, on July 1st as well, and quickly had to get to know my philosophy and expectations along with each of the 14 individuals on our team.  We are fortunate to have
Rebekah on staff, she is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about her job and this team.  Julie Ellen, continues to do a great job of keeping our athletes on the floor.  We did not have any major injuries this month but we had several nagging injuries that had to be addressed all month long.  A lot of extra hours were spent by Julie treating these injuries and making sure our athletes were able to push through and develop throughout the month.  And lastly, Crimsynn Dover oversees the academic progress for our team and the results speak for themselves.  While our team is very disciplined and takes a lot of pride in their academics it is great to have Crimsynn there to guide them and provide assistance whenever needed.
So as you can see it took a total team effort to make our program better during July.  I am very appreciative of the entire staff, and extended staff, that I have in place and certainly for this group of athletes that are gifted in so many ways.  When I look back and evaluate the month of July I'm proud of what we accomplished...our team became better athletes (stronger and faster), we got better on the court, they had a great month in the classroom and our recruiting is going very well with the quality of recruits we are in on (or have committed).  I would be proud of what this group accomplished any year but even more so this year because of all the changes and new faces within our program.  Part of my philosophy in coaching is to "bring together a wide range of individuals toward a common goal"...July was a great example of this.  Teamwork allowed our program to get better!!!

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