Catching up with Alysha Clark
Alysha Clark is currently an Assistant Coach for the Middle Tennessee State Women’s Basketball program. Enjoying their first AP Top 25 ranking at MTSU in 2014 since Clark was a player in 2009, the team recently snapped a 17-game win streak and is now 7-1 in conference.
She recently took to Twitter to find out what you, our #StormCrazies, wanted to hear in her blog.
Q&A with Alysha
Hey y'all!! I hope you are still enjoying the Super Bowl win! I was disappointed in my boys...I thought it was going to be a better game. I guess it happens though; just hate it had to be on that stage!! I went to watch the game with my best friend and her family. There was so much food that I stuffed my face with BBQ ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, assortment of dips and cakes!! It was definitely a good night, minus the outcome.
Anywho, enough about football! I'm so excited to answer some questions for y'all and let you in on my life during this new chapter! Thank you for sending questions! Ok, here we go!
How does the college game differ from the WNBA?
The college game is very systematic. In the WNBA, everyone more or less runs the same type of offense so the game is about reads and letting players use their skills to create shots. Also, in college a team may have 6-7 really good players whereas in the WNBA every team has 11 really good players.
What have you taken from playing to coaching? What will you take from coaching to playing?
The biggest thing I've taken from playing to coaching is how to read and how to compete EVERY day. In college you know to go from A to B to C. In the WNBA I had to learn how to read not only my man on D, but where everyone else was. So I try to teach that to my girls now...learn to read and play off of it. I also learned how to compete on a daily basis. Having to compete with T, Katie, Noey, Milli and TT at the positions I played day in and day out was very challenging. And they definitely didn't take it easy on me either. Their drive and competitiveness was levels above mine and I thought I was a pretty good competitor. So seeing HOW to compete every day was eye opening and I try to get my girls to understand that concept: that it's fun to compete. It's fun to challenge your teammates. When you take it easy, you're not helping your teammate get better. I can definitely say I'm a better player now because of them.
What I'll take from coaching to playing is preparation for a game and thinking the game. How I look at games now is different than how I looked at games as a player. I am now looking at what offenses will work, what players will be good in what situations and what we can do if we need a last second basket. There's a different thought process for coaches and I hope to apply that as a player.
Update on Bird & LJ?
They're both killing it overseas right now! :-)
What are you going to do to recreate the hunger/vibe to win that was so important last season?
Honestly, I'm just going to come in and do my part by competing. That's not very hard to do when you have so many winners on the team. I want to experience what they've already experienced at the professional level in winning a championship, so it's not too hard to come in and work hard for that.
How is coaching going?
Coaching is going well! I'm learning a ton! I absolutely LOVE the teaching aspect of it. Being able to bring back what I've learned along the way and help these girls is awesome. A few of the challenges for me have been; adjusting from having leisure time as a player to being on a set schedule every day; staying focused working in an office (my attention span is short when I work in quiet environments...that's why I never studied in the library when I was in school); and finding an efficient way to do a scout. I had to find ways to watch films and break it down the 1st time so I don't have to spend hours watching one game; and lastly learning all the “do's and don'ts” as a coach. As players we THINK we know what coaches can and can't do, but there is so much more we never even had an idea about!
What are your reflections on your college days & what you see in your players now?
I've actually gotten to reflect on my college days a little bit recently. I've always been the type of person to not get caught up in my accomplishments as an individual. I focus on team goals because I know what I do wouldn't be possible without my teammates. But to look back and see everything I've been able to accomplish is pretty awesome. I never realized the magnitude of my accomplishments and I had to sit back and say "Did I really do all that?" It's definitely a blessing and I know one thing for sure...where I'm at now wasn't MY plan. If you would've told me in 2002 that I would one day play in the WNBA and coach Division I basketball I would've laughed in your face. God had a plan for me and my life and I'm just doing my part in utilizing the talents He's blessed me with.
I see so much drive in my players! They are such a talented and personable group of girls...they really are a joy to be around every day. They are attentive and want to learn and that makes it easy to want to teach them.
How hard have you been working and what areas of your game have improved?
I've been working really hard since after Christmas. I took the 1st couple of months off to let my body rest and learn what my daily routine was going to be. I've been in the weight room (with an offseason program our Sports Performance Coach put together for me) and on the court with my trainer Marcus Kinzer (working on ball handling, conditioning, moves off the dribble) and MTSU men's coach Win Case (working on my shot, shots on the move and conditioning). They've been kicking my butt! But I would have to say my ball-handling is the biggest improvement I've seen this offseason. The next biggest improvement would be my confidence. How I respond after a missed shot or mistake is much more positive than a year ago and that's helped so much.
Would you step back & take more 3s if playing time increases?
I will do whatever my team needs me to do for us to be successful!
What teammates or coaches, besides Coach Insell of course, have influenced you the most in playing and coaching?
Well, in coaching I've taken a little bit from every coach I've ever played for and applied it to how I talk to, teach and interact with my players. When it comes to playing there have been a handful of people that have influenced me. The first would have to be Chris Fryer and John Simms, my high school coaches. They saw something in me long before I even knew how to pivot correctly. They laid the foundation of my game and helped mold me into a good and mentally tough basketball player. The next would be Beth Stark, my position coach at Belmont. She was always so honest with me about my game and what I needed to do to be successful. She pushed and encouraged me every day and would even send me videos of professional players doing certain moves or certain footwork she wanted me to learn. I wouldn't have even thought of the idea to play professionally if it hadn't been for her. Aside from Coach Insell, Tom Hodges was my position coach at MTSU and he helped get me from a decent post player to a really good post player. He would always challenge me to be better than the day before. He believed in me and believed in what I could do & helped set my mentality from being just a really good college player to being a great professional player. Then, I have 3 teammates from the Storm that really helped me last year and made me feel like I deserved to be in the WNBA and it wasn't just by accident. TT, T & Milli were such a positive influence both on and off the court. They were constantly in my ear telling me they know I could do what was being asked of me and always just being so encouraging when I was doubting myself. Off the court, they were showing me how to be a professional and how to be a confident person. The most important thing they taught me was how your faith in God is really more important than any basketball could ever be. Because I was getting so caught up in what I couldn't do, I wasn't keeping perspective of what really mattered the most, and that was playing & honoring Him.
What are your favorite places to eat in Seattle?
I was totally obsessed with Crab Pot! Anytime Strick & I could find a reason to go we did! Haha! I also loved Skillet! Katie introduced it to me one weekend and I was hooked!
What's your favorite book?
Life's Greatest Lessons: 20 Things That Matter
Favorite song to sit back and relax to?
Sweet Love by Anita Baker
Will you be wearing Seahawks championship gear when you come back to Seattle?
The only reason I will be is because I lost a bet to our equipment manager and have to take a picture in it. After that, no!
Thank you to everyone that took time to send a question! I had a great time answering them for you :-) Hopefully I didn't bore y'all!
Can't wait to get back to Seattle! It's going to be a great summer!! (Not until I’m done at MTSU: we’re aiming to win a conference championship and make a deep run in the NCAA tournament!
Until next time,