For over 15 years, I've had the vision to train, to write books, to publish DVDs and other materials to help young ladies in the game. It's been an uphill battle. But I'm still here. I'm still here because it is a journey. It takes time. It takes making mistakes, which I have made plenty of it. But the journey becomes more bearable when you get to work with players like Ridgeway's Ashley Jackson.
Ashley is a senior. She is one of the top players in the city of Memphis. She is a 4 year starter. She earned Best of Preps honors. Ashley is also going to college for free because of basketball. Her parents don't have to pay a dime towards her education because she earned an athletic scholarship. She will be reporting to Old Dominion this summer to began summer school and basketball workouts.
The most impressive thing about Ashley is that she started her transition from a senior high school girls basketball player to a college freshman basketball player in early April. What put a smile on my face and lifted me from a down period is that I was chosen to help with her transition.
College basketball is in no way equal to high school basketball. Players leave a high school team where they were either the only top player or one of a few. They join a college team full of former top high school players from their perspective schools.
College basketball is more time consuming requiring more running, weight lifting, practicing and film study. It's extremely emotionally and mentally draining being away from home, traveling to games, practicing harder and faster, fighting through fatigue and injuries, staying up late doing home work and studying, working to get/stay in the rotation and enduring a long basketball season.
Unfortunately, a lot of signed seniors don't understand that. All they know is the lights, camera, and action of watching games on TV for 2 hours. They can't comprehend the dozens of hours of hard work they have to put in weekly before getting to the 2 hour game.
I'm proud and happy for Ashley for deciding to get a jump on the hard work. The period from the end of your high school senior season to the time you report for your freshman year of college is probably the most important time for a signed senior.
Why? Well, unless a college team is still playing for the title late in March. They are back in the gym preparing for the next season. The players are going through individual workouts. The coaches have upgraded their recruiting mode looking to finish out their signing class and looking towards players for future classes. This means the coaching staff is already looking for the next player that could possibly replace you in the rotation or even on the roster.
So if college teams are back in the gym preparing for the next season, if you aren't, YOU ARE BEHIND. You are already behind because you haven't played on the college level yet. Then you are two steps behind because your future teammates, who already have college experience, are improving their game even more.
Now back to Ashley... I started working with Ashley in early April. We probably would have been in the gym a lot sooner if she would not have been injured. Ashley hurt her ankle back in March in the state championship tournament semi-final game. As soon as she was able to get back on the court, I got the phone call. Well I got the text, which resulted into a phone call.
She attended my Junior level group session on a Saturday. She was back in the gym with me, by herself, the following Tuesday for a non-stop 1 hour workout. Then on the track Friday for an endurance workout, by herself. She gets to the trainings early and never complains one bit about what I ask her to do.
Here is an except from Notre Dame's Head Coach Muffett McGraw's book Courting Success about great players. You know the head coach that just lead her team to an undefeated season heading into this year's championship game. Her team won the National Championship in 2001. Coach McGraw is one of just three active Division I coaches (and seven all-time) with at least three appearances in the NCAA national championship game. She has also had 5 trips to the NCAA Women's Final Four (1997, 2001, 2011, 2012, 2013). Unfortunately, I was on one of the teams that Notre Dame destroyed in the 1997 NCAA tournament. But anyway, what I'm trying to say is... You may want to listen to what she has to say. She knows what she is talking about. Check out the quote:
"Great players work more individually outside of practice than the average players. The really great players are the ones who come in early, stay late, and come in on their own. Beth Morgan, Ruth Riley, and Katryna Gaither are examples, and it's obvious why they were the best players. They knew their weaknesses, and they worked on those weaknesses. We've had good players who came in and worked hard in practice. But after those two hours are over, they leave. The only way you can improve as a player is by what you do on your own. To that extend, I believe that players are made over the summer. If you put the time in over the summer, when the coaches aren't allowed to be there, that's when you really see the improvement. It's very evident who put in the extra effort."
I love the comment from Coach McGraw "It's very evident who put in the extra effort". Believe me, it will be very evident to the college coaches which freshman put in the time before they report to school.
According to Coach McGraw's words, putting in extra work outside of practice equals improvement. Improvement makes a good impression on your coaching staff.
If you are a signed senior, what first impression do you want to make to your new coaching staff when you report?