Brenda Frese's Blog on NGWSD Celebration
The other night I was able to catch a bit of President Obamaís ďState of the UnionĒ address. Iím certainly not the person to deliver a state of womenís basketball or athletics speech, but I do have a few thoughts to share. At every level, our sport has more resources available to it than ever before and itís up to those of us involved to maximize the results.
These days, through technology, more of our games are viewable than ever before. We have more opportunities to market our sport. And the facilities keep getting better and better.
Here at Maryland, the Comcast Center is one of the very best places in the country any college player can play. We now have our own womenís basketball performance coach who tailors our playersí workouts and meals to meet their needs. And the University of Maryland is in the process of building a basketball performance weight room just off the main floor of the Comcast Center.
All of those are incredible improvements over what things were like when I played college basketball just 20 years ago.
One of the most incredible things Iíve watched in my time here at Maryland is how young women can grow into incredible role models and heroes that transcend gender. Iíll never forget being at a wedding reception and watching little boys and girls pretend they were some of our more prominent players. Iíve seen people of all ages wearing the jerseys of our players in the stands. And Iíve had people stop me in the street to tell me a story about where they were and what they were doing when one of our players or teams had an incredible moment. Each time, it crosses my mind that these are young women that are inspiring all sorts of folks.
When I first started here at Maryland, we had a great tradition to build from, but in order to compete; we had to convince some of the best recruits in the country that Maryland was the right fit. Through a lot of hard work we were able to do so and in the process, we broke through the establishment ceiling in our sport. The players who accomplished that became legendary, in large part because they blazed their own trail. Itís also great to see their self-esteem grow as they become more confident through accomplishment. As a coach, itís great when I can inspire my players and they can inspire me in return.
I think that can be a metaphor utilized by anyone in any field. Yes it will be hard. Yes you will meet resistance, but with the right group of people working together and not caring who gets the credit, you can work your way to the top.
The key word in there is ďworkĒ. The greatest gift my parents gave me was a relentless work ethic. They did so by setting an example every day of their lives. For me my work has always been a labor of love. I truly enjoy what I do and within our program, I try to create an atmosphere of happiness. I do that because I think people will work harder, better and more successfully when they are happy.
For our sport, I think the next areas for improvement are more time spent on skill development and truly learning the game. I watch young girls coming up who play hundreds and hundreds of games, but it seems using some of that time to get in a gym and work on specific skills would serve them better. And for that to be worthwhile, they have to be taught by the right people.
A natural extension of that is improving the mental aspect of the game. Iím not sure how many little girls grow up watching a lot of basketball or being surrounded by people who help them develop their basketball IQ. Iím not saying it needs to be forced on anyone, but as a coach, it isnít hard for me to tell which of our players grew up watching the game and which didnít. The ones that have that knowledge have a big advantage.
Going forward, I think one of the biggest challenges facing our sport is the same one that faces the rest of our country- the economy. Lots of tough decisions are being made everywhere. High schools, AAU programs and universities are all being affected.
No matter what happens, though, our sport at its grass root level will be the same. Just like my dad and me in our driveway when I was growing up, all weíll need is a ball and a hoop to make our game better.