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Sunday, June 5, 2011

My Motivation- Andie Allison

We start basketball camp this week. I started the "My Motivation" articles back this spring. My hope was that they would be writings that our players could read, think about, and reflect on their own sources of motivation. I have tried to have about one per week.

Andie Allison- "Coach Allison"- should be a source of motivation for all of our players. She has worked with our Streaks teams every summer since getting out of high school. The combination of her determination, commitment, loyalty, and enthusiasm made her so valuable. After seeing the positive impact the volunteer coaches had in our boys program, I knew Andie would be so valuable for us as an assistant year round on the varsity. Our seniors especially realized Coach Allison's value.

One day last fall I was talking to Coach Reynolds about adding another coach. His comment,"You are coaching girls basketball. Let's see, you are old and male. Andie and Jaque are young and female. Might be a good move." Sometimes Coach Reynolds doesn't sugar coat things (he never does).

Coaches in all sports in talking about players will say,"They 'get it." or "They don't get it." Coach Allison is someone who "got it" as a high school athlete. Watching her as a junior high player, I wasn't sure she would make it on the high school level. She wasn't real tall, real quick, or a great shooter- but she worked hard. When I was talking to Coach Wynne (Churchill coach) about her players she commented, "Andie is going to be a player for you." Obviously Coach Wynne was right.

Andie is the stereotype of a "coach's kid." She was raised in a family talking about sports. She was raised to possess three characteristics- be team oriented, be passionately competitive, and to work hard.

As a freshmen she played on the freshmen team while teammates were moved up to the soph team. As a soph she was on the soph team while teammates were moved up to the varsity. As a junior others started and played more. None of this mattered- it was about the team.

This year when we had our scavenger hunt, there was an "adult" with each team. I was not sure whether it was wise to have Andie as one of the "adult" drivers. I knew the competitive juices would take over.

Andie is one of the few people to play sports who can say that each year she played basketball she played a bigger and more significant role for the team she was on. She was more important to her soph team than she was to her jh team. She was more important to her varsity team than to her soph team. And she became more important to her college team than her hs team. (She at 5'9" finished in the top 10 in shot blocks in the NCAA III). All of this happened because of her work ethic.

So when it comes to motivation- Andie "gets it."

You probably described as average in junior high and early in hs. As you got to varsity age and then in college, you took your game to a different level. How did this happen?

I am a competitive person, and I am very competitive with myself. Through my playing years, especially the later years in high school and on into college, I knew that there were so many things that were out of my control (my lack of quickness and height to name a couple…thanks Mom and Dad). However, I also knew that there are so many other things that I could control. I could control how hard I played each minute I was on the floor. I could control boxing out the bigger post players who could out jump me. I could control my preparation in the off- season. So, as usual, it became a competition with myself. If I shot so many shots or worked in the weight room so many times one week, I knew I could do just as much and add more the next week. I also feel that I got so much more confident my senior year in high school and especially in college. I think my increase in confidence and my competitiveness allowed me to become a better player.  

A lot of times, players talk about how things just "clicked" all of sudden, something happens and their motivation and goals change. Was there something that sparked your increased motivation?

I don’t think there was one particular moment when everything “clicked.” I will say that the closer I got to the varsity level and then on into college, I knew I wanted to be someone who could contribute on the floor when called upon, and also become a leader to make our team a close-knit unit. I had wanted to be a Silver Streak my whole life, but it wasn’t until I experienced it firsthand that I realized how much work it took. I knew I wanted my experience as a Steak to be a special one for my teammates and me, which became my motivation to become better individually and also become a better leader.     

Could you describe your work out plan or program that you used in the off-season?

Well in high school it was easy. I didn’t have a job. My “job” was to do basketball stuff in the summer and fall. There were so many opportunities for us as a team with summer league, weekend tourneys, team camp, etc. There were also a lot of options to get better individually with shooting and lifting planned out. The key was to get better in that time and not just put in the time. I lifted consistently even when I played softball in the spring, a sport that did not have a lifting program. I remember that 2-3 times a week, Jenna Bicego and I would stay a little later after softball practice to lift. I think the extra time I spent in the weight room made a big difference for both of us. I never felt like I had to spend any amount of time “regaining” strength that I had lost because it was increasing throughout the year no matter the season.

In college it was tougher. I was busy with work and I wasn’t around my teammates in the summer. We were on our own to workout and the only person who would know if I took weeks off would be me. However, I pushed myself to get to the gym 4-5 times a week. When I worked out, I continued lifting three times a week, and I tried to do around 40 minutes (the length of a college game) of cardio of some kind each time. The days I didn’t lift, I did extra cardio. The one area that I felt I neglected in the off-season during college was with shooting. I guess I didn’t realize how lucky I was in high school to have all shooting opportunities that I took advantage of. Looking back, I wish I would have pushed myself more to spend more time shooting. Maybe I could have even been a three point threat!!! Stop laughing now, Coach Massey.

If freshmen or soph who wanted to become a successful varsity player came to you, what kind of program would you give them to reach their goals?

I would definitely give a younger player a program that included strenuous weightlifting and lots of shooting rather than a heavy cardio workout. I would want the weight program to involve a variety of exercises involving arms, legs, and core. The hope would be that the as long as the player works hard in the weight room and while shooting, she will get the cardio along with it. The players who truly improve from one season to the next are the ones that get stronger and improve their shot. Weightlifting and improvement in shot are so important if a player wants to reach goals on the varsity level. She cannot simply enter the weight room and get stronger and she cannot become a better shooter by just holding a basketball.    

What advice would you give to a player for the off-season? 
I would tell the player to try to not settle for “good enough.” My advice to her would be to work as hard as she can so she will never look back and say, “I could have been so much better if I would have worked harder to improve myself as a player….”   A lot of times during the off-season, a player could think, “Wow, this is a lot of work.” But I think that those special players who have accepted the challenge, and who have pushed themselves beyond even their own expectations, had an incredible basketball experience.  

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