Flying High: Laurie Byrd Finds New Home in Washington

When the Mystics added Laurie Byrd to their coaching staff this winter, they gained someone with a winning pedigree who already had a championship under her belt. She had spent three seasons as an assistant with the Detroit Shock (2003-2005) and won a title with them in 2003. More recently, she was an assistant coach on last year’s New York Liberty team, where she helped lead them to a 22-12 season, which was tied for the best record in the Eastern Conference. Her resume looks good on paper, but what is harder to measure is Laurie’s enthusiasm and passion for the game of basketball.

Growing up in Flint, Michigan, Byrd was surrounded by great athletes. Both her mother and father were prize fighters while her brother is the former heavyweight champion and Olympic silver medal winner Chris Byrd. Although Coach Byrd did not step foot in the ring herself, she used boxing as a great training method to stay in shape for basketball season.

“As far as the conditioning is concerned, it’s awesome conditioning for any type of sport, so that’s where I got my background in boxing and why I still use it,” said Coach Byrd.

She even intends to pass along some of her techniques to the current Mystics players after the season is over.

“Hopefully, during the off-season, I’ll meet up with some of the girls and go through some of the conditioning and maybe even some boxing moves.”

Due to the fact that Byrd is so well conditioned,, the assistant coach had to show off her skills as she took to the floor and scrimmaged with the team during practice. She talked about what a great experience that was and how she was able to see things differently being on the court.

“I truly enjoyed it, because I still play a lot myself. The biggest thing is when you are out there as a coach, you get a chance to see a lot of the things that are harder to pick up on from the sidelines. When you are actually in the play and playing amongst them you can see it even better. You can stop and show them different things like when to slip, when to roll, and different basic fundamentals to add to their game.”

The Mystics’ assistant was an outstanding player during her playing career and just recently had her jersey retired by her alma mater; Eastern Michigan. She was known for her quickness and brought a very high octane style to the court. She has translated her fast-paced play on the court into her coaching technique, which she really tries to push across to the current Mystics team.

“I love the up-tempo style. When I’m coaching, I love the teaching aspect and the fundamentals that I can pass along to the girls. I try and provide any little part that can help enhance their game,” said Byrd.

When you see her around the Mystics facility, the assistant coach always wears a smile on her face and it is easy to tell that Coach Byrd has a passion for what she’s doing.

“I love it. The girls are great, the coaching staff is awesome and I’m getting the experience of a lifetime. When people ask me how I’m doing here in Washington, I just tell them I’m living a dream.”

Hopefully for the Mystics, the dream will last for a while.