Stacey’s Blog #2
Without any further adieu, let me tell you about training camp. We started on April 22nd with plenty of activities other than basketball. One of the great ambitions of any WNBA franchise is to build something with staying power—something that gives hope to young people and a happy release for all. Building a WNBA franchise in my mind is much like nurturing a garden of sundry flowers and beautifully exotic life—it requires constant attention, sees distinct change, and subsequently grows more stunning and effervescent over time. It becomes a garden that everybody wants to witness and have a hand in and there’s no question that this holds true for management and fans alike. Please forgive my bias, but I think the thumb of our organization is turning greener with each passing day!
Moreover, the first day of training camp was filled with plenty of activity to further enrich our Sky garden. Our team in fact, observed a dance competition featuring what would become the 2007 Sky game-day performers and boy was it interesting. I had the astute honor of serving as one of the judges and I’ll be perfectly honest, I was like a symphonic conductor trying to pick a basketball team—I know nothing about dance and shall never profess to. Although, I will add that this Canadian girl does have but a smidgen of rhythm in her step ;-).
So, I spent the entirety of the afternoon using my better judgment listening to the three professional dance wizards sitting with me in the judging booth, and of course, digesting the flash text messages from my teammates sitting just below the booth, as they shared their influence and opinion. When the competition finally came to a close, the team headed to the Lucky Strike bowling alley in the heart of the city for good eats, lots of laughs, and of course, plenty of bowling. This was the kickoff to our season—thank goodness Northern Illinois point guard and rookie Stephanie Raymond was my bowling partner, because we were a two-headed point guard monster on the lanes which gave us great confidence heading into testing and physicals the following day!
If any of you reading this have heard of athletes talk of “two-a-days”, you must know that they come with a tinge of angst. Perhaps that’s an understatement! With all said, they are a part of what we do and they only make us better in the short time that we are together. Two-a-days are very simply, two practices in a given day, and they often last throughout the course of an entire training camp. Fortunately, ours ended approximately six days into camp, although, there are still a couple to come before the preseason reaches finality. With this in mind, let me explain to you a typical two-a-day in the life of me, when practices are held from 10:00am—1:00pm and 5:00pm—7:00pm. Bare in mind, I am an old 27-year-aged body at this point in my career, now my fifth season in WNBA, and I require a little more time to prepare (I’m laughing out loud as I write this!).
My alarm wakes me up at 7:00am. My coffee is automatically set the night before, so it’s brewing while I refresh and awake to the day. Once showered and dressed, I try to drink two huge glasses of water, down my vitamins, prepare my coffee, boil and cook my oatmeal, and make post-practice protein shake that I’ll take to the gym. Just ‘FYI’, a good friend of mine got me hooked on an oatmeal mix of all-natural peanut butter, honey, and a splash of milk—it’s by far the most delicious meal of my day! After my 45 minute early day prep, I’m off to the Moody Bible College Solheim Center where we practice.
I arrive at the gym approximately 8:00am then dress for practice and head into the training room for any necessary medical treatment on sore muscles, aches, and pains with our athletic training staff. Certified Athletic Trainer and jack-of-all-trades Georgia Fischer does and amazing job leading the medical charge for us, while Juliet Barnes shares superbly in the action. Our new strength coach Anne Crosby is second-to-none and is always available for extra training on-the-spot. I am typically in the training room from 8:00am until about 9:30am, at which point, I head to the court for some light pre-practice ball handling or shooting. We are all required to be on the court at least 15 minutes prior to the start of practice—then at 10:00am, it’s full go.
When practice finishes at approximately 12:30pm, I may do some light shooting to finish up, or head straight to the training room (where the practice day began) to jump in the ridiculously frigid cold tub. Basically, I strip down to my tights and tee shirt, and immerse my body from the waste down in 55 degree Fahrenheit water for ten minutes. Although it sounds harsh, and is in fact dreadful through the first three minutes of emersion, it is the best way to flush toxins and reduce inflammation. Once finished in the tub, I shower and head back to my abode for lunch and rest. If I’m lucky, I will enjoy a 45 minute nap. But, before you can lay your head softly on the best feeling pillow you could’ve ever imagined, it’s up and atom and back to the gym. And, just like the morning regimen for practice number one, I am at the gym approximately two hours prior to our start time of 5:00pm at which point a similar schedule ensues.
Being a professional athlete is a wonderful treat that I will never take for granted. However, it truly requires an unbelievable amount of attention, an unrelenting work ethic, and infinite commitment. As I’ve explained a basic two-a-day schedule to all of you, I haven’t even included weight and functional training workouts which occur every other day in addition to the occasional pool routine that is terrific for muscular recovery and rejuvenation. And, in the midst of all this activity, I can’t even begin to say how drastically important healthy diet and nutrition are in enjoying optimum performance on the court. Ultimately, there are so many intricate pieces to the performance puzzle—if you can figure all of them out and develop consistency with them, you are winning half the battle—the other battle of course is very simply winning with your team!
That said, winning is the fundamental objective here! My blog has been long and winded, but I really wanted to give you a confident feeling that we Sky players and coaches are working our tails off to win for you! Some of you may not exactly be Sky fans and that’s perfectly okay. We’re playing for you too, because in all reality, we all celebrate in this wonderful sport and league together. Until the next blog entry, please enjoy the warm emergence of summer, and for those of you who are Chicago supporters, go Sky!
Yours in sport,