Now that season is over, it's time for me to start blogging away to you every two weeks. So much has happened over the past three weeks, so I'll begin with week one, Spring Break!
During Spring Break all of us girls returned home and spent quality time with our family and friends. I was fortunate enough to return to Australia, my home country to attend an interview so I could be given a green card. It took a long 24-hours to get there but I eventually made it. For those of you who don't know, Australia is a little backwards when it comes to our seasons. When it's summer in Australia, it's winter here and when it's winter in Massachusetts, it's summer in Australia. So, with that being said, I wanted to scream with excitement when I walked out from the international airport to the outside car park. The time was reaching 8:00 a.m., and already it was 60 degrees. I knew I'd be in for some amazing weather and I was right about that!
One special thing I wanted to do while I was home was to surprise my sister, Taylor. I also told my parents to not tell anyone else that I was coming home because I knew their reactions would be priceless. This included my cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, etc.
Spending time with my family was amazing and I cherished every precious moment. While I was in Australia, I did in fact get my green card! This was such an exciting moment for me. Now I can live and work in the U.S. as a citizen.
During my time back home, I visited Sydney twice, went for walks with my mum and attempted to bake, although that turned out awfully wrong. I supported/watched my dad run around the oval (soccer field), went shopping with my sister, spent time with my cousins, got to visit my "Nonno" (means grandpa in Italian) at the cemetery, caught up with friends for coffee, took on my crazy uncles in a quick game of basketball and much, much more. I also got to get my hands on some vegemite, something that seems to be a sin around here. I know all you Americans can't stand it, but I was in complete heaven when they introduced the new Cheesymite! Vegemite has definitely improved, so for any brave soul that wants to give it a shot, let me know! I'll attach a photo. Vegemite is a black, savory sandwich spread that most Aussies love.
Anyway, before I knew it, it was time to leave and say my goodbyes. It's always so hard leaving, but I was also excited about getting back into my routine and see everyone at school.
Once I landed in Hartford, Conn., Tex picked me up, but little did I know that she was playing a prank on me. When I finally reached Tex's car with my luggage, I popped the "boot" (trunk) open, and Kim, my teammate, burst out scaring the living daylights out of me. Both Tex and Kim couldn't help but die with laughter when they heard my scream. It was their way of saying, "Welcome back to the USA." Guess I was back.
From the way Tex and Kim were walking or maybe I should say, "hobbling," I could tell that workouts weren't going to be a, "ease your way into it" type of deal. My predictions were spot-on. The next morning was my first official post-season workout and boy, was it brutal. Barely awake and 90 percent jetlagged I somehow made it through our run. Luckily, I had my teammates support, and they helped me through it and yelled out encouraging words. The next day consisted of lifting and an individual basketball workout. This is exactly how I felt.
I wanted to ask the big guy, strength and conditioning coach George Greene, some questions relating to our workouts. This is what he had to say,
"Progress so far has been good. I was happy with our strength during the lower body workout on Tuesday. From week 1-2 everyone looked much better during the runs. We will see solid gains all around when we test in a few weeks."
We're so fortunate to have such a wonderful strength and conditioning coach. Like any player, we all have goals and George makes sure that we get closer to our goals with every workout. When I asked him what his goal for us was this post-season he said,
"The major goals for the spring are to improve on individual weaknesses and set the tone for summer workouts."
There's no doubt in my mind that by the time summer comes, we'll be in fantastic shape!
Now lets take a look at what some of the other girls did on their break!
Kim spent her time with her family back in Ontario, Canada. When I asked her what her favorite part or break was this is what she said,
"I loved spending time with my family and friends. It was really nice seeing my little brother, he was really happy to see me. It was nice to spend a whole week with him, not just a couple of days."
Tex spent her time in Texas.
"My favorite part of being home was watching March Madness with my mom and spending time with my family."
Jasmine valued her time back home in Michigan.
"I spent most days with my family. It was nice being able to go to church with my mom. I also went up to Michigan and Michigan State to visit some close friends I hadn't seen in a while."
It's safe to say that we're all excited to be back on campus and are getting used to our morning workout schedule. Workouts are well and truly underway and we're all doing a fantastic job at pushing each other and striving to outdo our previous performance.
It's an exciting time for us!
I'll keep you posted and get back to you shortly.
Have a great week!
Hey All, The last three weeks have been insane! They've included nothing but airports, hotel rooms and gyms. Just a little over a week ago, we were in St. Louis, Mo. What was supposed to be a two-day trip turned into a little more than that due to the extensive amount of snow that was hammering down on the East Coast. Nevertheless, we made the most out of it. From Friday morning to Monday we were in "boot camp" according to coach. Fortunately for us, St. Louis University is a very beautiful campus and we were extremely lucky to be able to use their gym and facilities for the duration of our time there.
The coaches also made sure that we didn't spend our whole time in our hotel rooms, so we went to the mall one night and then went to see a movie on another. A couple girls also made some touristy stops, the St. Louis Arch being one of them.
Being a part of a team is fantastic for many obvious reasons. One of those reasons in particular is being able to travel to different places. Our conference, the Atlantic 10, and our non-conference schedule, have enabled us to visit many universities and cities throughout the country. This season alone, we've been to Mississippi, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Connecticut, St. Louis, Rhode Island, Philadelphia and Virginia!
Basketball has allowed us to visit these places that most of us probably wouldn't have been able to experience in our normal lives. Of course, our main focus on the road is playing basketball and fighting for the win but it's so interesting when we interact with people from different regions. One thing I've noticed is people's accents. I am in LOVE with the southern accent. It's so pretty. When we went to Mississippi we ran into a few old ladies. Their accents were so adorable that I just wanted them to keep speaking.
Having been to so many places already this year, it must be getting close to the end of the 2012-13 season, so senior day is just around the corner. As you all know, our season hasn't gone as planned record-wise, but we still want to send Dee and Jazz out with a win. As a co-captain to them, I feel that they've done a great job and will be greatly miss by the team and coaches. Both of them were exceptional leaders and knew how to get the best out of each one of us. There will be some big shoes to fill.
Despite our record, I commend my teammate's positive attitudes. It's true, it's always easy to be positive when things are going your way, but remaining optimistic when things aren't is when someone's true character is revealed. Everyone's commitment has remained strong throughout the season and as we go into our last games, my teammates continue to give 110%.
We train and play hard every practice and hustle and dive after loose balls. Sometimes, during these "hustle" plays, injuries can occur. Sadly, this was the case for me (a week ago) when I came down on my ankle after trying to tip a ball to a teammate. This was my first ankle sprain since the age of 14. After blowing my knees three times and sitting out three out of four years with ACL rehab, I keep telling myself it's only an ankle and I'll be back playing within a couple of games.
I'd also like to say how much we appreciate what our fans do for us, including some of our youngest. A couple of days ago Emma and her friend spent the day baking us chocolate and vanilla cupcakes. They were a lovely surprise and delicious. Thanks girls!
Hope you all have a great week and see you at the games!
I hope everyone had a great break and a fantastic start to 2013; I know that this is long overdue, but sometimes late is better than never. Speaking of the New Year however, I love it. I love it for a number of reasons, one being the opportunity for change. Does the phrase, "New Year, New You" ring a bell? I'm sure it does. It applies directly to our team too, but it's more like, "New Year, New Team."
This 2013-year is all about change for us. We are using the start of this year to forget about our pre-conference record, start with a clean slate and to be the UMass Women's Basketball team that we know we can be.
Since being back, a lot of us have had individual meetings with the coaches and I believe this has helped us. In these meetings, we discuss and specify what parts of our game we need to improve on as individuals and also what we need to do in order to contribute more to the team.
Teammate Carolann Cloutier, a.k.a. "Cee" also agrees, "In our last game, before Christmas break, everyone seemed down and discouraged. Since being back, our mindset has changed. We are positive, determined and ready to prove that we're better than our record."
As a team, we are fully aware that things need to change if we want to win games. Comparing practices from four weeks ago to now is incommensurable. It's like night and day. Practices are positive and full of energy and competitiveness. As of late, we have been doing a lot of one-on-one and three-on-three. This has forced us to be more aggressive offensively, which has transpired in games. This has also helped us with our confidence.
The New Year has also brought about a new theme for us. After about what seemed like a 15-minute debate over what word would fit best, we finally came up with the word, "Believe." Our new motto serves a multitude of meanings, one being that we (your ladyballer's) believe that we can turn any situation around. Two, we believe that we are a better team that what our record says. Three, we believe that soon enough all our hard work in practices and effort outside of practice will pay off. And four, we believe in each other, our coaches, this program and ourselves. This word means so much to us that we had wristbands made that say the word "Believe" on it.
Currently, our conference record is 1-2. Two games ago we played George Washington and won. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to play, let alone even go to the game because I was struck down with that horrible flu that was and still is going around. But this didn't stop me from cheering the girl's on from my bed at the dorms. The ladies played great and it was such a gratifying feeling to know that our efforts in practices had paid off.
This week we played away. We traveled to the Bronx to take on Fordham and a couple days after that played St. Bonaventure University. Unfortunately, we lost both games.
Although we lost against Fordham, the team played as one cohesive unit. Our intensity was there and so was effort. Individually, I thought Cee did a great job for us, defensively and offensively. She made some really tough shots for us and played exceptional defense.
Moving on to game two. Millie did some great things for us in our game against the Bonnies. She was swishing threes from all over the place.
Our freshman, Jasmine Harris also knocked down a three and was aggressive to the basket. She pulled down some big rebounds for us in crunch time. I think she did a fantastic job out there.
Both these girls, along with the other three on the court, got the momentum going. The energy on the court was awesome and the bench was going off. It was such a great feeling. They really helped us get back into the game when we were behind. Unfortunately we couldn't get a hold of the lead.
Stepping onto the bus with two losses under our belts for the week isn't exactly the outcome we were hoping for. We're going to remain positive though. We have to. Come Monday, we will practice and prepare for our game on Wednesday against Butler at home. All we can do is to continue to pick away and out hustle our opponents.
One plus about this week was that there was a Tim Horton's right around the corner from our hotel. For those of you who don't know what Tim Horton's is, it's a Canadian coffee and doughnut shop equivalent to Dunkin Donuts, but 1,000 times better. It was a Godsend, seriously. In the timespan of 12 hours, some of us went three times. I was one. No shame. After a couple of us tried a hot chocolate there, it was over. We were running back for more, literally.
So on a positive note, we survived winter session! My thoughts exactly... I thought it would never end. Since exam week was over, campus has been nothing but a ghost town. Dead. I'm excited to see everyone back.
We also start school on Tuesday and early morning wake-ups begin. By early wake-ups I mean 6:15 a.m. It's not going to be too bad. After the first week, we'll be right into a routine.
Well I should probably leave it to that. I hope you all have a good week and hope to see you Wednesday night at home when we play Butler.
Since our last game a number of things have happened. To begin with, school's out! Our stress levels have subsided since exam week is over and no homework, presentations or assignments are due (for the time being anyway). Now, our time has been filled with practice, extra shooting, a search to find an ugly Christmas sweater (I'll talk about that later), Christmas shopping and singing Christmas videos for our recruits and fan's enjoyment.
The night before we played Northeastern University, Kathy Dawley (coach's sister) invited the team over to her beautiful house for a team dinner and pre Christmas get-together. It was so nice being able to go to a house that felt so warm and cozy. Kathy, the sweetheart she is, opened up her house to the 14 of us girls and made us feel like we were apart of her family. We ate a delicious meal and had cake afterwards. Since it was Christmas, the coaches allowed us to dress up a little for the occasion. This is where our ugly sweaters come into the mix. We were able to wear an ugly Christmas sweater on the bus and to dinner. The person who wore the ugliest sweater won. I can't remember who it was, but if I had to guess I would have to go with either Rashida or our manager, Jake. Horrendous.
I'd like to take the time to quickly thank Kathy for having us over. I know that every single one of us enjoyed it and it's always lovely seeing you. We appreciate everything you do for us.
As I write this, we (members of the team) are heading back home for our three-day Christmas break.
A couple of hours ago we stepped onto Northeastern's court to battle it out. Unfortunately, we lost. Obviously, this was not the outcome we wanted; especially going into our break, however there's no point in dwelling over something that already happened.
What we do have control over is our next game following break. I think that this three-day break will be a good time for each one of us to regroup and reflect. It'll be a nice opportunity for us to focus on how we can be better teammates to each other and what we need to change in order to become a better team.
I hope everyone has a great Christmas break.
Since I've last blogged, we've played nine games. Although our record doesn't reflect the team we are, we're remaining positive and know that it's only a matter of time until we begin to win multiple games.
We are a great team and have so much potential. This was especially evident in the opening five minutes of the Ole Miss game when we came out firing, forcing their head coach to call a quick timeout. Due to brain-farts, turnovers and a lack of rebounding in the second half, our victory was handed to Ole Miss with six-minutes left.
In the locker room after the game, Coach told us that our biggest goal is to stick together when we begin to get rattled and the other team makes a run. She said that it's easy for a team to show enthusiasm and to be positive when things are going their way. It's when things aren't going right when great teams get their act together and generate results.
"It's all about being positive and encouraging each other when we make mistakes," says Aisha Rodney. " We're going to make mistakes, it's the game of basketball. When there is a turnover, we have to make sure we force a stop at the other end."
A positive attitude and encouragement are two critical components to our team. One thing that Coach told us to do was to focus on a teammate. She said that each one of us should pick a teammate before practice and games and to make it our responsibility that that person is hyped, energetic, enthused and positive. This way, we're not concentrating on ourselves. We won't have enough time to dwell on the last shot we missed, the ball we fumbled or the missed box-out because we're focused on making the person next to us better.
"This is a really good idea," says Emily Mital. "At some point, everyone is going to have an off game. It may be their shooting or defense, but if they have a teammate that's constantly feeding them encouraging words they'll hit their next shot or get a steal on the next play."
Our next game isn't until the 19th of Dec. We're excited to get after it and play in front of our home crowd. Asides from that, there's a lot of studying going on in preparation for final exams.
Before I end this week's blog, I want to fill you in on a program I've created called Minutewomen Mentors.
Student-athletes are always in the spotlight, regardless if we like the attention or not. The job comes with a certain set of responsibilities. As a Division I athlete, we are recognized in our community as leaders and positive role models, especially to the younger generation.
The program is a way for the UMass Women's Basketball team to give back to our community by attending schools in the Western Massachusetts area. Our job is to assist young females in their schoolwork, while mentoring them and forming friendships at the same time. As mentors, we want to inspire young girls to go confidently in the direction of their dreams and to understand the importance of a college education.
The Minutewomen Mentors website allows mentees and members of the community to keep updated on our progress. Mentees are able to share their experiences with the Minutewomen Mentors by posting on the website or by visiting our Facebook page.
Every time the Minutewomen Mentors attend a school, photos and videos will be updated.
Minutewomen Mentors will be involved with working with young girls who attend the High School of Commerce in Springfield, Mass., next semester. This will be in conjunction with an independent study course that I'll be taking with the Journalism Department.
"I cannot wait to get started," says Rashida Timbilla. "I enjoy working with people, so this will be a great experience."
This program is a support system for both parties. As Minutewomen Mentors we follow four concepts of mentor, assist, share and support. We hope that we can generate our mentees and members of the community to come support us in games. It's always such a fun environment playing at Mullins with screaming kids.
I'll keep you updated on the Minutewomen Mentor's progress.
Well that wraps everything up for now. I'll get back to you in a week after exams are over.
Have a good week - Go UMass!
There's so much to tell you! We've finally hit the good stuff! It's game time and the season is officially here. Ahh, I'm excited, so I better get started...
Okay, so first things first. Your UMass ladyballer's are currently undefeated, with a record of 1-0. WHOOO. As most of you already know, we had our first game this Saturday against Kent State.
Leading up to our home-opener, coach emphasized the importance of defense and boxing-out. This was our main focus. Kent State, like any team we face this season, has talented players, who crash and compete for the offensive and defensive boards. Now, the time had come for us to translate our defensive efforts from practice to games. And that's what we did. After an impressive first half, we left the locker room determined to come out firing in the second. We continued to run on them, knock down shots from the field and pound the ball inside. With ten minutes remaining on the clock, those Ohioans didn't know what hit them. It was a collective team effort and everyone did a great job out there. We took charges, snagged rebounds, made the extra pass and pushed the ball up the court. After the game, coach told us that 11 of us scored. All in all, it was a fantastic team win. We helped each other, had each other's backs on every possession. That's what it's all about, being selfless. With that being said, we walked away with a thirty-point difference, 83-53.
It's such an awesome feeling coming off a win, especially the first. Winning the opening game at home was huge for us. Of course, winning any game is important; however, it was critical for us to kick the season off the right way. Clutching the first win of the season is always the first step. It's a confidence booster and gets the ball rolling.
With that being said, the home opener was a big game for a lot of us.
I'd like to begin by congratulating Jazzy! Jasmine Watson, the "beast" reached a huge milestone in her collegiate career as a Minutewomen. She became a member of the 1,000 points club. Everyone was so excited for her and so was she. So, I asked my teammate/roommate the question that everyone wanted to know: how did it feel to reach 1,000 points?
"It feels good. It's just another thing I've always dreamed to accomplish. It just shows how hard I've worked over the years."
I don't think she could have said it any better. Congrats Jazz, we're all very proud of you.
This game signified the start of a new beginning for some of us. For the freshman and myself, this was our first official appearance as a Minutewomen. Wow, I don't think we could have asked for it to start any better because we got to play our first game at Mullins. Personally, I was so excited. This was my first game in two years. My parent's flew all the way from Australia to watch me, so the pressure was on. I'm kidding, but seeing them wave the Australian flag and smiling was such a gratifying feeling. A special thank you to all the fans, friends and especially family who were able to make the trip this time and cheer us on. For those who couldn't, we can't wait to see you at the coming games. Also, a shout-out to those parents who made us signs. Despite not visibly saying thank you from the court, I want you to know that we're giving you the thumbs-up and love them. We notice the signs and they make us warm inside, at least for me they do.
With so many parents in town, a win under our belt and a free Sunday, it was a chance to celebrate with friends and family.
I asked some of the girls what they did and this is what they had to say...
Tex: "After the game, I went out to eat with Millie and her family, as well as Ki's (Kiara) at Zen in Northampton. It's not often that all our parents are here at the same time, so we took the opportunity to all go out to dinner, dress up and look cute. On Sunday morning, I attended church with my parents. Afterwards, I took them to brunch in Northampton. We went to a little cafe called the Green Bean."
Nola: "I went to the mall and did some overdue shopping! After, I took my mum to the dining hall. She loved it. After, we went grocery shopping at Big Y and I was stopped about five times by people saying good game."
Jay: "I went to dinner, movies and shopping!"
Rashida: "We went to my apartment, hung out and just talked. After I got ready, and we went to Applebees and had dinner."
Kim: "My dad really loves Antonio's (local pizza spot), so we went there and got some. Afterwards, they had to head back home."
For me, after I received my sugar hit of timtams, lollies, wagon-wheels (chocolate coated cookies... BEST AUSTRALIAN FOOD EVER - literally, God's gift) we joined Millie's and Tex's parents for dinner. Both Tex and Millie visited Australia with me this past summer and this was the first chance for all of our families to meet.
Sunday morning came and I was determined to take my dad on a small, but steep hike up Mt. Sugarloaf. By my side was teammate, Aisha! The views were amazing. Following our hike, we drove to Brattleboro, VT and had breakie (breakfast) at The Works bagel shop.
Then we spent the remainder of the day exploring the countryside of Vermont. We stopped at the quaint riverside town of Quechee, then made our way to Woodstock. Funny story. In the car, my parents were on a rock-and-roll pilgrimage to Woodstock. Let me tell you, they were on a mission. Too bad, they found out that it wasn't the actual Woodstock. Wikipedia, unfortunately, was the barer of bad news. Australian problems.
But, they did enjoy the galleries, houses and the New England architecture. Woodstock is definitely a town that all parents and players should try and escape to when time permits, just don't go looking for rock-and-roll.
Now, we have to prepare for our game against Central Connecticut on Tuesday and Quinnipiac on Friday. If you are around Friday, we'd love to see you at Mullins at 7 PM!
The countdown is on and there's less than two weeks until our first game against Kent State. YESSSSSSSS! As the days get closer to tip-off, our excitement and anticipation builds; however, before we catch ourselves getting too far ahead, we have to focus on what we can improve on until game day. The next few weeks are
This Saturday we went to Rhode Island to play against Brown University in a practice scrimmage. It was a great opportunity for us to play against a team other than the practice boys - don't worry fellas, you're still very much appreciated. But, it was a chance for us to play a group of girls that we knew nothing about. We played two, 20-minute halves and ended up losing by three points. As frustrating as that was, we didn't let that get us down. In the locker room after the game, coach told us that there's a lot that we can take away from the game - good and bad. There are two areas that we (as a team) can instantly change come Monday's practice. They are our communication skills and rebounding. This is extremely encouraging because it requires two things: opening our mouths and effort. And we all know, as girls, that we can talk. And as for effort, well, everyone is capable of that.
Monday's practice consisted of defense, defense and more defense. Coach emphasized again the importance of helping each other out and that anybody is capable of being an amazing defender. If we can focus on executing these specific areas in our game, it will help us tremendously. I thought that our practice went really well. We improved on our communication skills. Every single one of us was giving each other high-fives and encouraging feedback.
To get a different perspective of how we're doing as a team, I wanted to ask a couple of our practice guys what they think. For all of you who don't know, our practice boys consist of 8-10 `blokes' (Aussie word meaning guys) who come every day to workouts. They're a tremendous help in practice for a multitude of reasons. As female players, we're obviously used to playing against other female athletes, so it's completely different when we throw guys into the mix. Our boys are quicker, stronger, taller and more athletic across the board. We have to think of other ways to outplay them. For example, we can't just catch the ball on the wing and throw it into the post without using a pass fake. Why? Because they're literally all ninjas! I kid you not! They come out of nowhere and snag the pass. Frustrating, yes. Necessary, absolutely! It's going to make us better, so we'll keep them around.
I do have to say that they don't always kill us. We also give them a run-for-their-money a lot of the time. In yesterday's practice, "Sheba" (Rashida) provided us with a bone-crushing swat (block), similar to an all-star volleyball spike, targeting our boy, Ellis. Let's just say that the ball was catapulted in the air for about twenty plus feet! This was our reaction. Don't worry Ellis, you got it next time mate!
You've probably already gathered that practices can get very competitive, but that's what makes it fun. Matt Fung, one of our practice guys agrees, "Just the atmosphere of practice is upbeat and fun. It's a completely different experience from a men's practice." When I asked him why it was different, he explained, "...there's a lot more team encouragement. Encouraging each other to be better as a team."
Ryan Imbriaco and Alex West also had some great things to say about our team chemistry.
"I love playing with you guys," says Ryan. "I think you guys are definitely making progress as a team and are starting to bond and come together."
Teammate Alex seems to agree,
"Overall, I think you guys are doing really well as a team. You're all committed and want to improve and get better. You all seem to be really close off the court as well which I think helps with your chemistry."
We're so lucky to have such a great group of guys working with us. They put in a considerable amount of effort and time into helping us improve, so I thought I'd give them a shout-out in this weeks blog! Thanks for all your help boys, it is very much appreciated.
So moving on, something that a lot of us are looking forward to is having our parents here for our first game. For most of us, we haven't seen our folks since move-in day at school, so it's been awhile. Sometimes Skype just doesn't cut it. I know for me personally, I'm stoked to see my parents. I haven't seen my dad since May 27th, so it's going to be lovely. It will be fun playing in front of our family and friends in our home opener.
That just about covers it for this week's blog.
Hope you all have a fantastic week and hopefully I'll be seeing some of your faces very soon!
Well hello everyone!
I want to start off by saying that I'm sorry I haven't blogged in forever. Things lately have been incredibly busy for me. Before I get started, I want to let you all know that I'll be blogging every two weeks from now on. Don't be sad, I promise you that I'll keep you fully updated on what we are doing. Now that practices have
Okay, so let me start off by saying that the "Oppa Gangnam Style" YouTube video that Tex (Emily Mital), Aisha and I posted was a complete success! We've got over 1300 hits. Unbelievable.
"This was totally unexpected," said Tex. "It was something that we just spontaneously decided to do on a Friday night because we were bored."
Look out for our next music video... we're accepting back-up dancers.
So, a couple of weekends ago, the team headed down to Holyoke Community College to support Katie's (our awesome administrative assistant) father, who suffers from Alzheimer's.
This was a big event and we were all happy to help contribute to the cause.
"Katie [Lenois] is family to us, so we'll do anything to support her" said senior guard, Dee Montgomery. "It was a great feeling knowing that we were helping others."
Being apart of this also impacted another teammate of ours.
"I thought it was a good cause," said redshirt-freshman transfer Amber Dillion. "It meant a lot to me because I know somebody who has Alzheimer's."this was our reaction.
I thought it'd be nice to hear a few of the girl's reactions, so I asked Jay (Jasmine Harris) and Millie to share a few words...
Jay: "Thank baby Jesus it's over. I was calling on that man when I was running. I'm glad we do not have to wake up anymore, but as a freshman it made me push myself in preparation for the upcoming season."
Millie: "I was expecting coach to push us as hard as we could. We made sure that we were working harder than any other team in our conference. The fans better buckle up because it's going to be an accelerating season!"
OK, SO PRACTICE IS HERE!
This will be our second full week of practice. So far, things are going really well. Not gonna lie, a lot of what we're doing right now is running; however, we're incorporating our conditioning into basketball specific things. After the first week of practice and lifting we were all so sore. If coach asked us to do a pushup come Friday, this is what we'd look like.
It's such a great feeling being out there practicing with the girls. Oh how I've missed profusely sweating. For all of you who don't know, I redshirted last year and was recovering from knee surgery, so being able to participate in practice, etc. is something that (I feel) is long overdue!
I wanted to get a perspective from a few of the girls. I wanted to know their thoughts about the first practice, so I asked AJ (Adriana Jordan) and Tex.
AJ: "It was different than any other type of basketball practice that I've ever experienced before. I learned a lot of new things; more defensive stuff. I've never had to practice for over two hours before at this intensity."
Tex: "Ever since our season ended last year we've been putting in work. I'm really excited to see our hard work pay off and to get on the court with the coaches."
As a whole, I feel that we're gelling on the court and becoming more accustomed to one another's style. The more time we spend practicing and playing with each other, the better we look as a unit. Already, I can see an improvement from last week's practice. For example, in the first ten minutes of practice, the posts and guards split up. I am in the post group. One thing that's improved within our group is our footwork. If I compare it to last week, we're not making the same mistakes and we're getting through it quicker, with more reps.
Right now, we're working on many components of the game, but coach is putting a huge emphasis on our defense. Since the spring, our team's prime focus has been defense and locking down on your man. This is going to be an aspect of our game that we're going to take an incredible amount of pride in. We want to be known as a defensive team.
"We're doing a better job at holding each other accountable," says Millie. "We can't let up, especially on defense. There has to be five people out there doing their jobs to the best of their ability."
Honestly, I think our best practice is yet to come; however, we're progressing each day in one way or another. Whether it's doing a better job at communicating on the court, shooting, encouraging or even knowing where to be in a specific play, things are looking promising.
Our coaches were so nice to us this week that they decided to give us the long weekend off. We were free from practice until Tuesday afternoon. This gave our five Canadians (Kim, Rashida, Cee and coach Jen and May) the chance to return home and celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving. Lucky things! A few of the other girls went to Montreal for a night, and other's flew back to the Midwest to see their families. For the rest of us, we remained on campus and relaxed.
I've uploaded a couple of pictures for you guys to check out. We're all about supporting our fellow athletes, so I posted a picture of us supporting the UMass field hockey team. The other picture is off us with our new jumpers (sweatshirts) in study hall. Very excited. Thanks Mo!
Okay well that just about covers it for this week's blog. I'll get back to you soon.
Have a great couple of weeks, Ki
Hope you enjoyed the weekend; I know that we did! Our last week on campus has been hectic. Classes and workouts are well and truly underway and everybody is now feeling fairly acclimated to their surroundings.
To quickly update you, everyone passed and made times in our conditioning tests. We had to run 3x300m sprints under a certain time and both groups (guards/forwards) made it. Great job girls! It's such a satisfying and rewarding feeling knowing that all of our efforts and hard work in the summer paid off. Not only did we excel in our conditioning test, every single one of us improved in the weight room when we maxed out. George was a very happy man.
Before our official practices begin, we have two more weeks of preseason and early morning starts. Ever since these 5:30 a.m. wakeups have started, the entire team has been in bed, asleep, with lights out by 9:30 p.m. I'm 21 years old, in college and find myself crawling under my covers just as the family shows are finishing up. If that's not depressing than I don't know what is. Wait, I lie. I do know. When my alarm says that I have a total of 5 hours and 45 minutes before it goes off again. I just want to cry.
With that being said, there's always a positive in every situation. What's so great is that everyone on the team is happy (given the circumstances) in the morning. When we lift, we turn up the music and zone in. When we run, we encourage one another. Everyone's working and getting better. Plus, seeing our new mascot Charlie isn't a bad way to start the day either. Charlie is our trainer's puppy. She's a golden Labrador and the cutest thing I've ever seen. I'll upload a picture for you all to see! Another plus is that these early morning starts get us going from the minute we get out of bed. It also frees up our afternoons! Can't complain about that.
As far as workouts go, they've been intense and man, oh man are we sore. We lift three times a week and condition twice. A pool workout has also been thrown in there, so have two individual skill workouts and a game of pick up. Last week, the coaches threw in an Insanity workout for conditioning. At first we thought they were joking, and then we realized they were completely serious.
For those of you who don't know, Insanity is a home extreme-fitness DVD, designed for people who don't want to be able to walk for the next three days. Oh. My. God. I have never felt so unco' (Aussie slang meaning uncoordinated) in my life. Some of the stuff they were doing on the DVD was ridiculous. I mean, relax Shaun T. Check out some of our pictures!
So on Friday night, a couple of my teammates and I (Aisha and Tex) were lying around the apartment trying to think of something to do that wouldn't take much effort and energy. Suddenly, it occurred to us that we hadn't done a music video for quite some time now. And that's just not okay! With that being said, we stood up, got our game faces on and decided to whip out the old dance moves to the YouTube music video, "Oppa Gangnam Style." This is the link to the actual music video and here is our version! Tosh.0 here we come!
At least we know that if basketball doesn't work out for us, dancing will. Always have to have that backup plan.
Okay well I have heaps of homework and readings to catch up on, so I better get going. Have an awesome week and I'll get back to you next Monday.
As the end of summer comes to an end, the fall seems to be creeping up on us - a seasonal reminder that school is kicking off. It's finally time to say goodbye to the good life of rest and relaxation and say hello to getting back to business. After a quick two-week break, I feel rejuvenated, refreshed and ready take on whatever this basketball season and school year has in stall.
As I start this week's blog, I'm flying at an altitude of 36,000 feet, making my way back from Las Vegas to Massachusetts. I have a fear of flying. This is something that always seems to surprise people since I'm from Australia. Fairly ironic right? To distract myself from the turbulence I'm experiencing right now, I thought that I'd start the blog and fill you in on what I've been up to for the past couple of weeks and also touch on the weeks to come.
Like I mentioned earlier, I'm flying coast to coast. So here's a quick fact for you all: Did you now that flying from NY to LA is a similar distance as flying from coast to coast in Australia? Not many people realize how big and vast Australia is!
Combined, I spent a total of 9 days in Los Angeles and 5 in Las Vegas. As an international student, with a passion for travel, it's so nice to be able to explore different parts of the U.S.
Although Massachusetts is renowned for it's rich history, scenic beauty and New England architecture, the west coast also has something special going on. In fact, LA reminded me a lot of Australia. The mountains ran into the ocean. The golden-sands that line the beaches of Malibu stretched far beyond each jutting cliff and the laid-back, casual atmosphere is similar to home.
The weather was also absolutely incredible - not one cloudy day. I took total advantage of this and even got to try parasailing off Marina Del Ray! The view, at 800 feet, was amazing. There's nothing more beautiful than seeing the ocean blend into the horizon. Parasailing is something that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys trying new things and is a little adventurous. I was also able to hike trails and get my tan on at Malibu beach.
Before leaving, Mo (one of my assistant coaches) told me that I had to do one thing if I was to go to LA. She told me to visit an ice-cream sandwich place on the UCLA campus. It was literally a hole-in-the wall but a complete goldmine. People queued along the street and around the corner. After waiting 40 minutes, I finally made my way to the front of the line. Crikey (Aussie word for `oh my gosh'), it was so WORTH IT. I sometimes tend to be a little dramatic when I'm excited but I've NEVER spent $2 better. You could pick any homemade ice-cream flavor and have it sandwiched between two freshly baked cookies. YUM!
During my time in LA, I was also fortunate enough to meet some notable people, one being Jay Leno. What a genuinely nice man. As a journalism major with a concentration in film studies, this was a wonderful opportunity for me. I was able to visit and go behind-the-scenes at NBC and CBS studios. After seeing the props and the set designs, I've realized that Hollywood and television is such an illusion. When I saw the New York street where Seinfeld was filmed I felt so cheated. Did you know they never once went to New York City? Everything was done in the studio lot in Los Angeles. It's amazing what they can do.
After LA, I was off to Vegas with my mum (she flew in from Australia). It was unreal. Walking the strip and seeing all the extravagant hotels is something that will never get old. We were able to see the Cirque du Soleil show, "Elvis" and see the blokes who make up the Chippendales work their magic. Although this all seemed like a holiday, I took advantage of the gym at the Aria Hotel and worked out for the up and coming season. I have some pictures for you too!
Even though only two weeks have passed, being away from the girl's felt weird to me. I was so used to being around them 24/7, that it felt like something was missing. It was definitely nice to see all their faces again once I arrived back in Amherst.
Okay, so onto other things. Now, I'll talk about what your ladyballer's are up to this week. Wow, talk about a zoo! UMass has been crazy this week with students moving in, parents visiting and school getting underway. A huge task for all of us was moving into our dorms, or at least I thought it was a lengthily process. I honestly don't know how I accumulate so much stuff. My mum looked at me and just shook her head... she asked me if I was moving back to Australia. What can I say; I'm a girl and girls like clothes, shoes, clothes, shoes... Wardrobes just continue to grow and you never know when something will come in handy.
This coming Wednesday we have our first team meeting of the year. We'll talk about goals, what's expected in the classroom and touch on our workout schedule. We're all very excited to start workouts. Next week, we'll begin the week with an early start ... I'm talking 6 a.m for lifting and conditioning.
The day that's been on everyone's mind is "testing day," which is this Thursday and Friday. For those people who aren't aware of what this day entails, it is NO JOKE. We do two things here. Lift and run. George, our strength and conditioning coach, watches us "max" out (reach our maximum effort) in the weight room and then we are timed while running 3x300m runs. Come Friday afternoon, this is what the majority of the women's basketball team will look like.
Finally, like old friends we were reunited again! Entering Berk (the name of the UMass dining hall & my haven) was probably one of the most exciting things that my teammates and I looked forward to after arriving. I sound fairly pathetic expressing my love for a dining hall, but it is completely and 100 percent necessary. This is what us lady ballers are like prior to going to Berk and after we have finished.
I'M NOT KIDDING. When you're an athlete your entire day revolves around food.
This week we're also hosting three wonderful recruits. We can't wait to show them around campus, get to know them and to tell them what UMass and being a ladyballer is all about. Welcome recruits!
Well, school is back in now and the team is about to start preparing for the season. The blogs from this point forward will be an insight to the preseason, trainings and also an introduction to the 2012-13 women's team. We hope that you will come out and support us and also say hello as we intend to be successful and make our mark in the Atlantic 10 Conference this year.
To quickly fill you in, last week's workouts were fairly similar to what we've done before. In a nutshell, we ran and ran and ran and then we lifted and worked on our guns (a.k.a. our scarily chiseled-biceps) and buns of steel (I'll say no more). Come Friday, my legs were feeling a little like this poor fella... and no, I'm NOT kidding.
Saturday's alarm went off 5:00 a.m. for five of us. After making a late and very spontaneous decision Friday night, we (Dee, Jay, Rashida, Aisha and I) decided to take a road trip to New Jersey. The GP (game-plan) for the day was to go to Carlo's Bakery, or better known as the bakery featured in TLC's hit "Cake Boss". After that, we were to make our way to Six-Flags.
Eventually, we arrived at Six-Flags and it did not disappoint. The first ride on the list was a rollercoaster called, "Superman", followed by many others. It was a nice time to bond with the girls.
This week, like I mentioned, is our last full week. It's still going to be packed with tough workouts but that's nothing out of the ordinary. Although it's been a long haul, being on campus and working out has really helped us as a cohesive unit. Over the course of twelve weeks we've all gotten stronger and are fit and in shape.
I'm ready to start our preseason the right way!
Have a great week,
Last week was full of crazy workouts, two birthdays and a trip to Canada!
Workouts consisted of agility, conditioning and strength. On Monday, we lifted heavy-squatted 80% of out maximum weight. For conditioning, we ran 4x200m, 4x150m, followed by short 30m sprints. Tuesday was a heavy lift day. On Wednesday, we tackled 10x100m sprints up "the hill" and a defensive session in the afternoon. On Thursday we hit the turf and did agility and 8x100m sprints, followed by an offensive workout. Friday we lifted early and then it was onto the weekend.
This week two of the girls celebrated their birthday! Aisha and Rashida. We celebrated with cake and a movie. Happy birthday girls!
Montreal, Canada was calling our names this weekend. For five of us, (Tex, Aisha, Kim, Millie and myself) and former teammate, Megan Zullo, it was time to say, "catcha" U.S.A and "hellllllo" Canada for the weekend.
During our stay, we did lots of exploring and sightseeing. There's so much to do! I'm such a fan of old, traditional architecture. I gladly took on the role of playing tourist- happily snapping away at everything in sight! One of my favorite places that we ventured to was the older part of Montreal. This section of Montreal is commonly referred to as, "Old Port." This area consisted of cobbled-stone streets, stone buildings and black -slate roofs. It was beautiful.
We also captured some great photos at the top of a mountain that overlooked the entire city of Montreal.
The food was amazing. I am in love with Poutine-a Canadian favorite. It's french-fries, smothered in brown gravy & topped with curd cheese. Sounds a little bizarre but let me tell you, it's probably one of the best things you'll ever eat. For breakie (Aussie slang for breakfast) we went to a place called, "Eggspectation"-Aisha's favorite!
It was a nice way to bond with the girls and to do something different. Summer in Amherst, isn't always the most lively spot, so we like to mix things up a bit.
As you are aware, the UMass team is culturally diverse with players from a range of countries. This has certainly got the competitive juices flowing between certain team members during the Olympics!
"Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi!" Just for you Dee!
Finally, I have a reason to say those words again. Unfortunately, I can't go all out. I have a feeling that parading around the dorm, wearing nothing but green and gold, and waving my Australian flag wouldn't go over so well with my American teammates. But, that WON'T stop me from cheering on the country I love and talking a little friendly smack.
There's something about the Olympics that brings out the very best in people. For some, it may be as simple as cheering on their country and watching the finest athletes compete, while others find satisfaction seeing the unexpected underdog snatch Gold. Whatever it is, it's an event that sends chills down my spine and keeps me on the edge of my seat.
As an athlete, I find that I appreciate the Olympics differently from, say `non' athletes. Obviously, everybody shares similar factors, such as pride and spirit, but I find that I share a connection with those who are at the games. I know it sounds weird, but as an athlete, I understand how physically, mentally and emotionally demanding competing in a high-level sport is. We all do.
My teammates and I have so much respect for those at the games. Why? Every single athlete who walked in the opening ceremony has put in countless hours. They have endured, trained and lived a disciplined way of life to achieve Olympic status.
To a certain degree, we can relate. Take for instance Women's Basketball. As an athlete here at UMass, there's so much more that goes into playing the game of basketball. We just don't rock-up on the day and play. No. It's all about what goes on behind-the-scenes...things like preparation. Nutrition and weight training play a key role in determining our success. We have to make sure that we are strong and ready to take the hits. Fueling our body with the adequate amount of food can also dictate our overall performance on game day. There's so much that you have to stay on top of as an athlete.
As I've mentioned before, we're now in our tenth week of summer school. Unlike the majority of college students, we're not soaking up the summer sun and sleeping in to midday. Instead, we're waking up at 6:45 a.m., working out two to three times a day for five-six days a week and taking classes. But that's what being a Division I athlete is all about. Determination, relentless-persistence and sacrifice. We give up our summer to become better individually, but more importantly, a better team. Just like those athletes at the Olympics. They're successful because they've pushed themselves and have remained focused.
As athletes, we appreciate your support and in turn, we are working hard to make this year a good one for UMASS's women's basketball.
I thought I'd end this blog with a translation of some Aussie vs. American words:
Bubbler = Water fountain
Have a great week,
Hope you all had a great week. I can't believe it's nearly August! For the returns we're rollin' into our ninth week here on campus. For the freshman, they're coming into their third. In saying this, time has flown by. Like usual, this week was busy, busy, busy! I suppose that being occupied with things throughout the day isn't necessarily a bad thing. It keeps us on our toes. We did a lot this week, so for all of you at home, I'm going to do my best to fill you in.
Monday is, by far, the hardest workout of the week. It's a known fact around here...especially with the women's basketball team. We started Monday with a heavy lower-body lift. This included exercises such as cleans, squats, deadlifts, and step-ups. By the end of our lift, our legs are like jelly. We look like we have a minor case of the shakes...our legs are trembling and wobbling so much that you'd think we're experiencing the aftershock of an earthquake.
But the fun doesn't stop there. Oh no, never. We reach a whole new level when we begin to run...our coordination goes out the door, our technique and form falls to pieces and we look like struggling walruses. But, we're getting better and stronger. No matter how tough of a workout it is, we finish. Whether this is stumbling or in some cases, crawling, we walk away from our conditioning being in better shape than when we arrived. I can live with that.
On Tuesday, the four of us (Dee, Tex, Cee and myself) who have been working with Girls Inc. for the past five weeks went to visit them in Holyoke to say our final goodbyes.
"On our last visit you could tell that they didn't want us to leave," said Emily, a.k.a. Tex. "They latched onto us. At one point, I had a girl cling to my leg...she didn't let go for five minutes. It was adorable knowing they loved having us there."
This experience has taught us so much in such a short amount of time. It's been fantastic to be able to bond and build friendships with these girls. They look up to us and it's an awesome feeling knowing that we've made a small difference in their lives.
"I was touched when a girl wrote to me," says Cee. "She told me that I taught her right from wrong. She was only young, roughly ten, but I influenced her in a positive way and that meant a lot to me knowing that I did that."
When we were there, our goal was to help mentor and teach them about basketball and to put a high emphasis on education. We're going to miss spending our Tuesday afternoons with these girls. Hopefully we'll be seeing them waving banners and signs at our games!
"I told them that I'm expecting to see all their little faces at our games," says Dee. "I know they'd all have a great time cheering us one. We'd love it."
Check out our video from Girls Inc!
Wednesday's workout was another lift and run day. After lifting, we headed out to the turf to work on our agility. It was a killer, but killer's are good. These are my favorite types of workouts. Why? Because it's incorporating basketball specific exercises and that's something that gets me SO EXCITED for season. We worked on our explosiveness, change of pace, quick feet, defensive slides, stopping and starting, etc. After 30 minutes of non-stop agility, we finished with 10x100m sprints. I was absolutely knacked (aussie slang for dead-tired) by the end of our workout. We all were. My bed was calling my name.
Thursday was a very exciting and special day for UMASS Women's Basketball. We gladly welcomed our newest and youngest member to the team, Mimi Lapierre. Mimi is an outgoing, energetic seven-year-old girl who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in August 2009. This type of cancer is the most common among children. After battling chemotherapy treatment for nearly two and a half years, she's now on the road to recovery. We, the UMASS Women's Basketball team, are sponsoring her for the 2012/13 season and welcome her and her family with open arms.
We wanted to make Mimi's first time meeting the team a memorable one. So, why not do it the right way...an official signing, followed by a feast? BAM. Perfect! To make things "official", the leaders of team IMPACT (Millie, Dee and Kim) did a fantastic job converting the coaches' offices into a signing room. When I walked in to the room, I was blown away with how awesome it looked--so professional. Great work girls. It made me want to sign over and over again.
When Mimi arrived, she brought along her identical twin sister Iza, her youngest sister Magi and of course, mum, Cat.
After Magi signed her contract, it was time to celebrate with cake and pizza. The girls weren't shy at all...digging right into the cake. Whoever said dessert had to be eaten last, was so very wrong. The girls were so excited to get to know us, and what better way to break-the-ice than with a game of Simon Says and duck-duck-goose.
"Magi said I won Simon Says," said Millie. "They also kept picking me for duck-duck-goose."
One of the funniest moments of Simon Says, was when Mimi said, "Simon Says to do 10 push-ups."
I'm not sure how this happened, but as soon as Kim got into her pushup position, all three girls rushed to her and jumped her back.
"Out of everyone, they picked me to sit on," laughed Kim. "My arms were shaking so much I thought they were going to give-out. I got one pushup with them on my back. Once they got off me, I collapsed."
When Mimi and her sisters were stealing the spotlight, I sat down with mum for five minutes and asked her a couple of questions.
"It's very exciting to be a part of this," says Cat. "It's a whole new adventure."
When I mentioned that Mimi wasn't shy, she laughed.
"There's zero shyness," said Cat. "When Mimi was at cancer camp, she worked with college students who volunteered their time. This is like an extension of that. It gives Mimi and her sisters the opportunity to interact with more girls. She's used to being around college students."
Mimi also wanted to get in on the interview, so I asked her what her favorite part of the afternoon was.
"Simon says!" she said without hesitation.
I would have to agree.
My favorite Simon Says moment was... "Simon Says do a puppy-dog face". When Magi did this, my heart melted. It was the most adorable thing I've seen. The entire room went, "Awwwww".
Meeting Mimi and her family was wonderful. We all had a fun time and cannot wait to spend more time with them during the season. Welcome Lapierre family! For more information on Mimi and her journey, check out her blog!
On Friday, we had our usual lift, followed by a pool session. We did a similar workout to last week, with slight modifications here and there. We incorporated explosive squat jumps and other exercises to get that muscle-burning sensation that we've all become accustomed to.
After Friday's workout, the weekend officially began! WHOOOOOO!
A few of the girls and I packed our bags, jumped into the car and headed to Boston to visit former teammate, Cerie Mosgrove and her family.
When we arrived, the Mosgrove's warmly welcomed us. They're the kind of people who make you feel like you've known them your entire life. We felt at home.
Our duration in Boston went something like this...shopping, shopping, eat, shopping, shopping, eat more, shopping, shopping, eat everything in sight, shopping, shopping, shopping, GET OBESE and eat some more.
One of my favorite moments in Boston was roaming the streets and walking throughout the park. The park was full of statues and the landscaping was amazing. Walking down Newbury Street was something that I recommend to anyone who wants to visit. The brownstones were beautiful. The traditional architecture also blew me away. It's safe to say that I feel in love with Boston.
On this week's agenda, we have Aisha's birthday. She's turning 19 on Tuesday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY AISHA from all of us.
We also have workouts that I'll be filling you in on in our next blog, so stay tuned.
I hope you have a great week!
One Hello Everyone!
Last week, your UMASS ladyballer's were at it once again, working harder than before and getting after it like a kid in a candy store...or perhaps me in a candy store. Our schedule was chock-a-block (aussie slang for "jammed-packed") of exciting things. One of those exciting things was having the freshman workout with us in the weight room, on the turf, and joining us in morning study hall. Goodbye sleep-ins! Sorry girls.
On Monday, we had our usual heavy, lower-body lift, followed by an even harder cardio session. The run consisted of short sprints, which ranged from 200m all the way down to 60m. Still unable to get the "all-clear" from the trainers, I watched from the sideline...cheered though, of course...whether they understood a word of what I was saying is irrelevant...aussie accents-they'll get ya!
Personally, I thought the freshman did a great job out there. Six weeks prior to their arrival on campus, the eight of us (returners) have been working out with George everyday. Our bodies have become somewhat "accustomed" to running...I guess...or they automatically blackout every time we do run...it knows when the pain's about it hit. Anyway, the point of this is, the freshman held their own out there, even though we have six weeks on them. They were thrown into the deep end...shark-infested waters I'll add...and survived. Good job girls!
This is bloody encouraging to see. Obviously, we don't know the freshmen as well as we know each other...we don't know their "life story" and haven't had all those girly "D&M" sessions (a.k.a., "Deep and Meaningful") or what you American's like to call heart-to-hearts. That sort of stuff will take time. However, we DO know one thing and that's that they are hard working and determined. This week proved it. That's something that excites me. I can't wait to play with these girls. They're a good bunch and have already showed signs of pushing through adversity.
That's my first impression of the freshman, so why not hear from some of them?
"It was different from high school workouts," said guard Jasmine Harris. "Although I was sore, I knew I couldn't stop. You have your teammates cheering for you. If you stop, you're not only disappointing yourself but you're disappointing your teammates."
"My legs were really sore, especially after Thursday's workout," said Adriana Jordan, a.k.a, "A.J.". I agree with Jasmine, everyone was encouraging...even the girl's standing on the sides who were injured cheered. The encouragement was really good."
Nola Henry had the pleasure of experiencing an ice-bath after workouts.
"My body felt great after taking the ice-bath, " said Nola. "Later on that day, I went to go shoot some hoops and I felt like I had new legs. But, I also put icy-hot and tiger balm all over me."
"The freshman's first week went well. We did a lot of technique work to get them squared away before jumping in with the upper class. They all arrived conditioned, which will make the transition easier."
Another exciting thing that happened this week was when redshirt junior, Carolann Cloutier, started her lower-body squat program. "Cee" as we call her, tore her ACL at the end of last season and is now on the road to recovery. This week she squatted the bar for the first time since tearing it. It's definitely exciting to see her getting stronger.
"After squatting two sets of 13 reps with the bar, I felt like I had just competed in the Ironman marathon," laughed Cee. "I was sweating up a storm and my heart felt like it was about to jump out of my chest. The next day, Tuesday, I was so incredibly sore-I could barely walk...I was hobbling around everywhere. It was the first time I've worked those muscles in five months. My leg still feels fairly week, but it's good to know that I'm getting there. It's worth every ounce of soreness."
After sailing through Tuesday's workout, it was time to tackle the "hill of death" on Wednesday. The girls ran 10x100m sprints and once again, survived. While the girls ran, I headed over to the track to see how my shin was holding up. Dave, the trainer, instructed me to jog two laps. After that, I had to jog the straightaways and walk the bends. My shin felt great, so I was one happy girl.
Thursday's workouts went well...a bloody ripper (aussie slang for a great one). We got through it.
After Friday morning lift, we decided to mix things up a little. Instead of doing an offensive workout, we headed over to the pool. This was our first pool session this summer. DO NOT BE DECEIVED; this pool session wasn't one of those, "I'll splash you-you splash me" type of things. Um no, we'll have none of that...we were here to get our Michael Phelps on...as best as possible... without looking like one-legged chickens flapping around in the water. It was a success! So, what did we do in the water? Well, we did laps, followed by a kick-board stroke and stationary running. By the end of the 40-minute session, our arms were burning and so was our lower body-perfect for our buns-of -steel! It was a beaut (aussie slang meaning fantastic) of a workout to end the week.
Finally the weekend was here. Two of our Canadians, Cee and Kim, went back home...lucky things. As for the rest of us, well we stayed on campus.
Okay, so Friday night...what to do? Seeing as the freshman had yet to see and experience Northampton, we decided it would be fun to take them there. The entire team, minus two, piled into three cars and headed to "NoHo". Once arriving, first things first...Local Burger! NOM, NOM, NOM.
"I thought Local Burger was tasty," said walk-on freshman Victoria Stewart. "It was a fun atmosphere. It was kinda funny because we would help call out the names of the orders."
After the girls ate, we headed over to get some ice cream at Herrell's. The queue (aussie slang meaning line) seemed to be never-ending and was moving at a snails-pace. After 10 minutes of waiting, we were over it...surprisingly. That doesn't happen too often, especially when food is involved. Instead, we sat and talked for a while. After realizing that nobody was going to get ice cream, we decided to head back to campus.
After the sun burned-off Saturday morning's clouds, a few of us basketball girls were feeling a little sand-volleyball action. To make things interesting, we invited a couple of the football boys...THIS WILL BE GOOD.
One thing that we didn't take into consideration was the fact that the sand was, I kid-you-not, 120 degrees! I tend to get a little excited sometimes and over exaggerate, but crickey mate, this was some serious fiery-stuff we were dealing with.
"After two-minutes, my feet were sizzling," said Millie Niggeling. "I thought I was going to have to be rushed to the E.R. for third-degree burns."
See, I'm not the only one who is a little dramatic.
To overcome this obstacle, we chucked-on our thongs and got back to work...don't worry, "thongs" in Australia mean your flippy-floppies...a.k.a., flip-flops. I tell you what; I've had some real awkward experiences with that one.
This was no friendly game of sand volleyball. No sir. It was go-time from the minute the ball went over the net. Sand-volleyball is one of those things were you don't expect people to be good...you hope they suck just as much as you do. But OF COURSE, there's always that ONE person who's had legitimate training and makes the rest of us look like a bunch of unco (aussie slang for uncoordinated) pansies. Yeah good.
The games were close...too close. I recall one of the guys saying, "If we lose this, I'm not speaking to anyone for the rest of the day!"
We lost. BAHHH. Can't win-em' all you know. We'll take this week to perfect our skills...maybe strategize a little more and work on our "slammers"...that's what I like to call our spikes. The outcome will be different next week, I assure you.
To take the edge of some bitter faces, we invited the football guys to eat dinner with us at Japanese restaurant called "Zen" in Northampton. It was nice spending time with them in a non-competitive atmosphere. Stuffing our faces with sushi was also another plus!
Onto Sunday. On Sunday, we caught up on homework and took the time to relax and unwind. We're ready for this week to begin. We've got some hard workouts coming up and classes to study for.
This week we're looking forward to welcoming Rashida, our last freshman to join the team. Another fun thing that we're looking forward to is having a team barbie (BBQ) on Wednesday night with the coaches. It will be a nice chance to get the entire UMASS "family" together once again.
Have a great rest of the week,
Before I begin with the usual rundown, informing you of our week, I would like to quickly make an announcement. This Monday, the UMass Women's Basketball family welcomed five new Ladyballers to the team. We're all very excited to welcome our five incoming freshman- Nola, A.J., Rashida, Jasmine and Victoria. It's going to be fun getting to know each one of them and show them around campus, Amherst and everything in between.
I took a moment to sit, reminisce and reflect upon this time last year. I was so incredibly excited but nervous and anxious all at the same time. You'd think I'd be fine since I had already experienced two years of college down South, but nah, not me. I was a little worrywart! So many unanswered questions racked and poked at my brain...things like, what if things don't work out, what if I can't find my way around campus and get lost, what if I can't keep up in workouts...what if I throw up in workouts? Wow, talk about needing to chill out. But, the minute I lugged my suitcases off the carousel and made my way outside of the airport doors, I was warmly greeted by my new teammates. And for the rest, well that's history! My teammates made things easy for me. They welcomed me and made sure that I was doing ok. I felt comfortable and at ease around them, and that's something that, I believe, is vital component for team chemistry.
In saying that, that's exactly what I want to do for these girls. This is not only what I want, but I can speak on behalf of the team. We want them to feel welcome and most definitely comfortable. They're now one of us...a unified group and apart of something very special...a second family. Plus, I'm always down for five extra sisters...can't hurt right? The more, the merrier!
Okay, so back to informing you about our previous week. Most of the schedule remained fairly similar to the past weeks we've had here, with a few slight adjustments.
The coaches brought us breakie (aussie slang for breakfast) on Tuesday morning...consisting of bagels and coffee! Can't go wrong with that. It doesn't happen too often, so we happily accepted. Thanks coaches!
On Wednesday, the 4th of July, the coaches gave us the day off workouts. We were stoked. Not wanting to waste a minute of the day, some of us set our alarms early and decided to do something spontaneous. After pondering over potential ideas, we came to one. Why not grill-out on a lake that we've never been before? Done deal. Good. So, we jumped in the car and ventured of to the D.A.R. State Forest Park. On the way, we stopped to grab some coals, lighter fluid and some tucker (aussie slang for food). When we got there, it was packed and the grills were all being used. No grilling for us. Oh well, but hey, that won't stop us from getting our tan on! So we found a nice, wooden dock and enjoyed our time relaxing and stuffing our face with watermelon.
Later that night, UMass put on a 4th of July firework special. This was located directly behind the football stadium (free-of-charge) to the public. It was packed! Cars lined the streets and people were everywhere. When we entered inside, we were instantly hit with the aromas of oily deliciousness; the sweet smell of fried dough and corndogs soaked in a greasy, deep-fried batter made our mouths water. We were like HELLO!!! But seriously, I'm not kidding... literally salivating. Definitely could have given that guy from Man vs. Food a run for his money.
Anyway, enough with food! I always seem to talk way too much about it...scares me a little. The fireworks were nice though. The finale is always my favorite. It was a nice way to end a summer's night.
Now, moving on to workouts. This week was challenging but we fought through it. We lifted and ran on the usual days...asides from Wednesday. On Thursday, George wanted to mix things up a bit. He incorporated agility into our conditioning. Exercises involved running around cones, quick footwork, exploding around corners and sprinting through the line. All with a minimal resting period.
Due to my nagging injury, I couldn't participate in the outside conditioning with the girls but hopefully this week I can do a little more. It's exciting that we're able to work on basketball-specific exercises now. I remember George saying when we first arrived on campus that for the first month of summer school, we're going to work on endurance and longer distances. Now, we're incorporating more game-like exercises in conditioning. Like I said, we're introducing agility with plyometric and dynamic work.
This weekend most of us relaxed and enjoyed each other's company. The third session of summer school begins this week, so we're all trying to get our classes organized and get on top of what we have to do. Things are about to get a little more hectic, but nothing that we can't handle.
Have a great rest of the week,
It's Monday morning. People hate Mondays...for obvious reasons. Why? Well it's the beginning of the week; the weekend doesn't start for another five days, shops close early and early wakeups begin. For athletes, this means... practice starts once again (your body is about to hate you); multiple naps, and forget about sleeping in. You get the drift. Surprisingly enough, I can deal with Monday's. It's Sunday. Call it what you want, but I KNOW I'm not the only one. I have this love-hate-relationship- going on with Sundays. They're so depressing...sorry, that was dramatic. Sunday's are kind of like the weekend, but not. I wake up and already feel like it's over. I could be having the best day, then suddenly, I remember that tomorrow's Monday and everything is RUINED...I'm just kidding, it's not that bad. Well, I'm happy to say that's it's now Monday and Sunday doesn't have to come back again for another seven days. I'm eager to get the week underway by starting with you! I'll be filling you in on our latest week here at UMASS. So with that being said, HAPPY JULY and HAPPY MONDAY!
Crikey (Aussie slang meaning `wow'), conditioning on Monday was a toughie. I mentioned in the previous blog (blog 3) that due to last week's temperatures, we refrained from outside running. Our strength and conditioning coach, George, ensured that this week, we make up for it. Starting off in the weight room, we had a heavy, lower body session. This included Olympic-style lifts, such as cleans, squats and deadlifts. All of these lifts foster explosion and power--a vital component in basketball.
"Olympic lifts provide triple extension, ankle, knee and hip in one movement," says Greene. "This enhances coordination, balance and kinesthetic awareness."
Greene continued by saying,
"By using full range multiple joint movements or Olympic movements, the body moves as one. This is the way the body is intended to move. This type of training increases flexibility, prevents injuries and results in greater power output, as well as provides functional core strengthening."
On a personal note, since transferring from FGCU (Florida Gulf Coast University) a year ago, I've noticed a dramatic change in my overall strength. After rigorously working out with George throughout the year, I'm finally starting to feel confident and comfortable in my lower body strength. After tearing my ACL's twice and meniscus three times, I've really focused on strengthening my muscles around my knees. George has helped me do that and I'm extremely fortunate to have him as our strength coach.
A month of summer school has passed and we can all see improvements within ourselves and each other...but the real question is, has the big guy? So, I asked him.
"After a month I definitely see progress," says Greene. "Training hard this spring definitely contributed to that and gave us a kick start for the summer. In comparison to when I took over last year, we are light years ahead and it will pay off big time come preseason."
Redshirt sophomore, Millie Niggeling also feels a difference in her overall strength since being able to lift and run.
"Since my last BMI (Body Mass Index) that was taken in the spring, I've gone down five percent," says Niggeling. "I feel lighter when I run. It has to do with the way George trains us. He focuses on the specific things you have to do as an individual."
Teammate, Aisha Rodney and Emily Mital also agree with Millie.
"George has really helped me strengthen my upper body," says Aisha. "I knew that this was something I wanted to work on this summer. I finally feel like I'm getting stronger!"
"After being here for a few weeks in the summer, I have really tried to focus on eating right to fuel my body," says Emily. "Today, George mentioned that I look lean. It's encouraging hearing those words, especially from someone who knows what they're talking about. I really enjoy working out with George."
After lifting, we ran 2x300, 2x200, 1x150m and 6x100m strides outside on the turf. George seemed to be happy with our efforts. I was fairly pleased about how my shin was feeling too. Taking four days off definitely helped.
That night the team planned on watching the movie, Avengers, but first things first, GOBERRY! We all pilled in the car and went to get our weekly fix of deliciousness. You know, becoming a "regular" doesn't just magically happen. It doesn't just transpire after a day...or two. Nope, it's more like finding your best friend...something that you have to invest time and effort into. I'd say that UMass women's basketball is pretty bloody close to achieving this status...and we're proud of it. We have this mutual...understanding. We drive, they provide. It's an awesome thing we've got going. Rule #101: BECOME A REGULAR SOMEWHERE.
Feeling as full-as-a-boot (aussie slang meaning `having stuffed our face or full') and very satisfied we got back to the dorms around 9:30 p.m. We all had full intentions to watch the movie, but things changed literally ten seconds later. Once we sat on the couch... it was over. It was almost like everyone had hit a brick wall. Two minutes after that, everyone called it quits and headed to their rooms. I collapsed on my bed...starfish-style...and passed-out. Kinda pathetic for a nice, summers night. Mehhh, just the life of an athlete.
Ok, so onto Tuesday.
After our morning study hall, we had 10:00 a.m. weightlifting session concentrating on our upper-body. Exercises consisted of bench, close grip, muscle snatch, curls...the list goes on. After we got our lifts out of the way, we moved onto abs and the roman-chair...something that I am honestly petrified of. George is always telling me the same thing, "Kiara, you're fine" but no matter how many times he reassures me, I still think I'm going to fall to my death...with a 25 lb. weight on top of me.
Later that afternoon, the four of us who work with Girls Inc. headed down to Holyoke. Once we arrived, we were told that we'd be taking the girls around a block for a walk. So we did. After that, we put on some music and had a two-hour dance party. I tell you what; I reckon (aussie slang for "I think") some of the girls are the next Beyoncé. No, but really...most of those 9-11 year olds can really dance...they put us to shame.
To break up the dancing, we incorporated some fun basketball games. Relays seemed to be the best idea, so we went with that. The girls seemed to enjoy them too. Time flew by and after a short two hours, we were back on the road to campus.
Later on in that evening, some of the girls (those who aren't injured) participated in our weekly defensive session, while others did a light pool workout.
To redeem ourselves from the early night we had yesterday, five of us girls (Tex, Aisha, Kim, Ronnie and myself) and Tex's mum, Lori, went to the cinemas for the $5 movie night. We went and saw Madagascar 3...in 3D of course. It was a nice way to enjoy each other's company and veg-out (aussie slang for "relax in front of the TV (like a vegetable).")
Wednesday's workout was 10x100m sprints up "the" hill. Merrrrrrrr. We got underway, just striding out the first couple and slowly building momentum after that. After the fifth hill, I started to feel my right shin ache again. I was really hoping that I wouldn't feel it. It was strange because when I was running I couldn't feel it, however once I stopped or began walking down the hill it would throb. Frustrating as it was, I had to listen to my body, be smart and watch the remainder of the runs.
I wasn't alone though. To my left was Kim. Earlier that day, while shooting, Kim landed oddly on her knee.
"As I came down from a rebound I landed on it wrong and it buckled," says Kim. "I felt it in my kneecap. It was weird not being able to run with them."
In the afternoon four of the girls played pick-up, while the others watched from the side. Pick-up went for a little over an hour. Once it was done, we ended the night by relaxing in front of the TV watching the Olympic trials.
Hooray for Thursday! Last day of study hall for the week. After study hall, we all headed over to the Boyden weight room. Before we got started, Kim and I were under strict instructions (from coach Dawley) to get our injuries evaluated by the trainer.
Initially, I thought the ongoing soreness in my right shin was the beginning of shin splits. However, much to my relief, this wasn't the case. After the evaluation, I was told that the pain that I've been experiencing in my shin is due to my hip alignment. According to Jeff (one of our trainers) my hips were completely "out-of-whack." What does this mean? It means that this caused my right leg to be slightly longer than the left...weird, I know...but in other words, my right leg took more of the overall force and impact every time I ran, therefore compensating and taking the brunt of the impact. For the remainder of the week, I can swim, bike and lift. Treatment consists of exercises, rubbing out my calves and ICE, ICE, ICE. I'll be reevaluated on Monday before conditioning. Fingers crossed!
When coach Dawley and coach Jen (a.k.a Jmac) arrived in the training room, Jeff filled them in on what he'd told me. Our coaches are amazing. They really do care for our health and well-being. They asked questions and made sure they were all on the same page as far as knowing what I can and can't do. They didn't just do this for me, but all of the girls. They wanted to know the scoop on Kim, Tex and Cee. They take care of us and want to make sure that we're all healthy and good-to-go.
Lift went well. Instead of going outside for a cardio, we did a Hoffman circuit inside.
This week we say goodbye to Emily's (Tex) mum, Lori. She's been here, living at the dorms with us, for nearly a week and we've loved having her motherly company.
"It's been so much fun here with the girls," says Lori. "It's almost like I've gotten to be inside the life of a college athlete."
When I asked her what her favorite thing to do here was, she had a couple.
"Spending time with my daughter, Emmy, has been really nice. Also, biking Martha's Vineyard. Tomorrow, we're hiking and that will be fun. It's hard to isolate one moment because they've all been great."
Lori plans to visit Emily and the UMass family again for the first game of the season in early November. We can't wait!
After Friday's lift, it was officially the start of the weekend. Half of the team, including myself, spent it beside the pool. We slipped in a movie night, watching "Magic Mike". Ladies, this is a WELL worth $8...anything featuring Channing Tatum should be worth every bang-of-your-buck!
This week we're looking forward to workouts and also the 4th of July. This is a holiday that I'm slowly becoming accustomed to and one I could get used to. You American's are crazy and I love it. Our coaches gave us the day off from workouts, so we're planning on finding a nice camping spot where we can "put another shrimp on the barbie!" I'm looking forward to getting my cookin' on...look out Gordon Ramsey things are about to get real.
Also, a special shout-out to all the Canadians on the team- Cee, Kim and Jmac...Happy Canada Day for the 1st of July.
Until next week!
Note: So I know I've been promising you an audio/video...don't worry, it's coming! We're just making sure that it's an A+. It'll be well worth the wait.
Your ladyballers just wrapped up week three of summer school. This was the slowest week for us in terms of taking things down a notch. By this I don't mean effort, I'm referring to quantity or the amount of workouts we did. Why you ask? Unfortunately, due to sweltering outside temperatures, we had to cut some of our conditioning short. Although we couldn't do much running on the turf, our strength and conditioning coach, George Greene, mixed things up for us in the weight room. As a cardio alternative, we completed Hoffman and kettle bell circuits, sets of 12.
The heat doesn't stop everything though! On Monday afternoon, despite the thick humidity, we laced up our shoes and got after a two-hour session of thigh-burning defense. Wooohh what a burn, but now we have buns-of-steel, so it's ok. Jokes. But kinda serious.
Before study hall began on Tuesday morning, Aisha and I were in need of our morning dose of caffeine. So, why not run to Dunkin Donuts? At the time it sounded like a brilliant idea- why not fit in a little extra a.m. cardio? Can't hurt, right? Um no. That was until I started to feel a little sharp pain in my right shin. Ughhhhhh!
The saying, "less is more" is, in this case, more effective and productive. It amazes me how one, thirty minute jog can push you over the edge. For the remainder of the week, George wanted me to rest my shin and to take things light.
"You're already doing enough as it is," says Greene. "Be smart." In saying this George put his trust into me and I promised him, that I wouldn't do anything extra.
That afternoon, the four of us girls involved with Girls Inc. headed down to Holyoke. This week there was a major shift in the girl's attitudes towards us. Unlike the previous week, the girls weren't as hesitant as before. They were happy to see us return and engaged in conversations right off the bat. The first hour consisted of coloring, making collages and creating other bits `n pieces. Did you know that it's hard to color within the lines?
Moving on from that, we headed down to the gym. There, the girls were instructed to split into groups of four. The groups went like this:
Carolann's group: Stretching
Group activities went on for 15 minutes before rotation.
"I really enjoyed the group activities," says Emily Mital. "It was a good way for us to get to know the girls a little better. It was easier to remember their names in a smaller setting."
"I had four different ropes tied to me arms at one point," says Dee Montgomery. "My group decided to tie me up and send me to jail, instead of jump rope. They're too adorable to say no to."
After nearly three hours, we said our goodbyes and heading back to campus.
Wednesday and Thursday were by far the hottest days of the week, so we didn't do much outside of workouts. Our main concern was staying cool!
On Friday, after our a.m. lift, we conducted our very first offense practice. We worked on different shots, cutting to the basket aggressively and taking the hit from inside the "paint" (meaning key). The session went for approximately an hour long.
"I think it went well," says Aisha Rodney. "We shot well after not doing offense for a while and you can see that we improved on our team chemistry. It was there!"
On the weekend, the team went to the cinemas to watch a movie, followed by the Route 9 Diner...such a necessity! Nom, nom, nom. It was a good way to just sit, do nothing and absolutely love it.
Have a great week,
Hope you all had a wonderful weekend. It's now Monday morning, and time to hit that weekly grind again. As long as I have Dunkin' in my hand, I'm set...seriously obsessed. I'm sitting in study hall trying to reflect upon the previous week we just had. Where did the week go? Days fly by here, especially when we're so busy with workouts, class and other outside activities.
This week was just as successful as the first. Your ladyballer's were hard at work in the classroom and in the gym.
Monday's workout consisted of a heavy lower body lifting session, followed by 2x300m sprints and 4x150m sprints. After that, we were all fairly knacked (an Australian word meaning exhausted) and ready to put our feet up for a couple of hours.
Sometime later, after we refueled our bodies with food and water, a few of us wanted to take advantage of the afternoon sun. We were off to the sand volleyball courts.
There were only six of us who came, so we started with 3 vs. 3. Luckily, UMASS was having a new freshman orientation at the time. A couple of students "to be" were walking by and we asked them if they wanted to get in on the game. Their response was "obviously!" I mean once they saw us in our spandex, they couldn't resist...just kidding...we looked like sweaty, hot messes.
So with our new friends, we had enough people to play a game...and that's when things started to get real. Nothing like a little friendly competition right?
Kim, one of our sophomores, started talking smack...naturally. The saying, "what comes around, goes around" really did come back around. In a matter of moments, Kim was lying on her back, emerged in sand. One of the guys went up for a spike and nailed Kim right in the face, sending her flying backwards. It was probably one of the funniest moments of my life...sorry Kim...just know I still love you.
"I saw it coming and there was nothing I could do about it," said Kim. "Once it hit me in the face, I thought it was hilarious. Then the pain started to come and my face started to hurt a little...even throb. Every time after that I ducked when the ball came at me."
Sand volleyball was a good time and after playing for a couple of hours, we decided to call it a day.
Tuesday was a productive day. We lifted upper body in the morning and then for a couple of us, went on our very first trip to Holyoke. We got to Girls Inc. around 3 o'clock and waited for the girls to arrive from school.
The buses soon rolled in and in small groups, girls began to flood the building. At first, most of them looked a little confused as to why four strangers were there. It didn't take long for them to warm up to us though.
For the first hour we met the girls and participated in some icebreakers. One of the exercises consisted of making a big circle. An individual had to go into the circle and say their name, age and show their favorite dance move. So we all went in and said our names and broke out old school dance moves...something that we all shouldn't still be doing but I KNOW you secretly do behind closed doors. The top five dance moves consisted of the sprinkler, the running man, the arm worm (which I successfully managed to make it look like a broken robot) the shopping cart and I think the Egyptian was thrown in there.
After that, we went to play some fun activities on the basketball courts. We did relays and played tag. Some of the girls wanted us to play 1 on 1 with them and to show them how to pass behind the back, while others wanted us to jump rope with them.
One girl wanted me to chase her around, so I did. I tell you what, you'd think that they'd get tired. Nope. I learnt the hard way...they're little machines! They can go, and go and go. I was literally buggered (another Aussie word meaning dead-tired.) With that being said, I ran around in a circle for 10 minutes yelling, "I'm the dragon, I'm coming to get you...you better watch out." I was breaking out in a sweat, so I told her that the big bad dragon was getting a little tired and had to sit for a moment. Almost instantly, another girl came up to me and wanted to play hand-clapping games with her. I think we went through about 20 different ones in about 40 minutes. They loved it and I got into it too. It was a great time.
By 5:30 p.m., it was time for us to head back to campus. Some of the girls were begging us not to go and were dragging us by the hand to stay. They asked when we were coming back again and we told them that we'll be seeing them every Tuesday for the entire summer. That got them smiling.
Once we got back to campus, we went straight to the basketball courts and worked on our team defense. Like I mentioned earlier in my first blog, defense is going to be a crucial factor for us this year. It will be predominantly serve as the nucleus and be the focus for many practices. Last season we came within so close to teams, but couldn't get the W- we would lose by a couple of points and that's essentially what killed us. This year, there will be no excuses and will be no defensive lags. We understand that basketball games are won with defense, so we've made it a top priority.
"Each day, as time goes on, our defense is becoming stronger," says senior guard Dee Montgomery. "Right now, we're brushing up on the fundamental skills. We have all committed to making defense the strongest part of our game."
It's exciting to know that we're all on the same page when it comes to our team expectations. When we're working towards one goal as a unit, it makes things run a lot smoother and is also a lot more enjoyable to do.
There will be no repeats of next year. Our preparation for season didn't start this Summer, it started last Spring, roughly at the end of March. Monday through Friday, we began the day with 5:00 a.m. wake ups. We lifted and ran in the mornings before class, then had individual workouts with coaches throughout the day, finishing with either an hour of team skill or a cardio in the afternoon. I'm not going to lie and say it was easy, because it wasn't. There were days when I wished I were permanently glued to my bed. However, this made our team chemistry stronger. We started to become a cohesive group, holding each other accountable.
"We had to be supportive of each other," said center Jasmine Watson. "It was a task that we all had to learn to do together. When we have those close games in the season, we're not going to be satisfied with losing. We will fight and push to win...just like we did during our off season."
Wednesday's workout was an exciting one for team member, Emily Mital. During post season, Emily, a.k.a. "Tex", developed stress fractures in her foot. For six weeks she was unable to do anything and was booting throughout campus in a "boot-shoe" thing. Not sure what it's exactly called, but we'll go with that. This Wednesday she was able to run laps around the field during our cardio session. It was great seeing her out there. There was such a huge smile on her face when she would pass us. The thought that she'll be back practicing with us is very exciting. She brings so much to the team and she's been missed.
"I was happy that it didn't hurt," said Tex. "It's exciting to see progress. I'm just focusing on doing what I can for right now, like rehab. Anything to get back out on the court."
So since we're here all summer, my teammate/roommate (Tex) and I decided to pull a harmless little prank on Aisha. During the day we decided that it'd be fun to decorate her entire car (a massive Tahoe that she calls "Timmy") with sticky "post-it" notes. We got our "supplies" from Dollar General and went to work around 10 p.m. that night. Once we were done with the 500+ post-it notes, we had a feeling something was missing. Saran-wrap. Duh! We were on a field day; running around the car at least 10 times with saran-wrap...we got some strange looks from bypasses...ah well. The next morning, we got outside to film her reaction. At first she didn't think it was her car, then...
"Hahaha...oh, oh, wait...oh no. Not Timmy!"
It was pretty funny. There's nothing like a good laugh to start the day off right.
Thursday and Friday both consisted of lifting, defense and cardio. By the end of the week, we were all fairly sore and tired from pushing ourselves in every aspect of workouts and the classroom. This week was another week we took total advantage of and got better. For a little reward, we tried out the new frozen yogurt place in uptown Amherst called, "FroYo World." Definitely going back there again...multiple times! We love our food.
Friday night rolled around and it was time for four of us ladyballers to kick off those running shoes and slide on those cowboy boots! Aisha Rodney, Emily Mital, Millie Niggeling and myself headed to Hartford, CT to watch Rascal Flatts live in concert. I'm not much of the country girl, but since arriving in America and living in Iowa for two years, I've learnt to like or "appreciate" country a little more. It was a great time. I've never seen so many country fanatics in MY LIFE! It was like a sea of people, probably a good 50,000 people there. You can check out some of the pictures below I've added.
On Saturday afternoon, while some of the girls were resting and sleeping, a couple of us were feeling adventurous and wanted to get our discovery on, so we ventured off. Mind you, nobody on our team is from Massachusetts, so it wasn't a good combination. We had a Texan, Michigan and Aussie in the car, so we were out of luck when it came to a sense of direction. Luckily for us, Lauren, a friend of ours on the UMASS women's swim team and Chris, a UMASS student, joined us and saved the day. They took us to a beautiful and relaxing spot on the river. It was a great place for us to unwind after a busy and hectic week of workouts. It was also a good way to reflect on our efforts and to think about the upcoming season. There was a dense canopy of trees, which surrounded the river. I was so excited...like all I wanted to do was turn around in circles and jump. For me, I've never seen anything like it. I didn't even know places like that even existed here! Having friends from around the area do have its benefits. We'll refer to it now as our secret getaway!
I was going to leave this story out, but since my teammate, Aisha Rodney, thought it was hilarious, I'd figure I'd put it in...much to my embarrassment. Okay, so here is the general gist. Later that night, a couple of my teammates and I were walking throughout uptown Amherst, when some random guy and his friends started yelling at us.
"Oh my God, is that Topanga?"
Anyway, I'll stop blabbering now. That's what we've been up to so far...much more exciting this to come, I'm sure. Don't worry, you won't miss a beat. I'll do my best to fill you in on everything...mostly everything that us Minutewomen get up to. Also be sure to check out the Player Profiles!
Have an awesome day!
After spending a small slice of my summer in Australia, it's now time to hit the books and the gym in preparation for an outstanding 2012-13 season. The turnaround from postseason to summer was short, just touching three weeks, but we're all anxious and excited to be back on campus and ready to work harder than ever before.
Before I get carried away, let me quickly introduce myself to you all. Hi. My name is Kiara Bomben. I'm a redshirt junior, and I'll be blogging throughout the season. I'm also majoring in Journalism, so I love this kind of stuff. I'll do my best to make this blog fun and as exciting as possible. With that being said, I'll be keeping you updated on our practices, activities, thoughts and the CRAZY things we get up to here. Basically, I'll be providing YOU with an inside view of what goes on with the UMass Women's Basketball team. You're welcome.
Let me start off by saying...It was wonderful seeing everyone again. I don't know about them, but personally, I couldn't go a day longer without seeing them. Facebook and Twitter just didn't cut it. Yes, that sounds kind of pathetic. I mean after spending the entire year around my teammates for 24/7 hours of the day, you'd think three weeks off would be a good break. Nope. Not me. These girls are my sisters and my best friends. I missed them like I missed Reese's...and Antonios. That's huge. Like major.
After arriving on campus and getting settled in, we began the week with a team meeting. The overall goal for this summer is to work harder, become stronger and to progress. We understand that there must also be relentless persistent in our efforts in the classroom and in workouts for this to happen. With this being said, we were all eager to get workouts well and truly underway.
"We're gearing up to get into better shape and to become stronger," says coach Dawley. "People know what they have to do."
Also bumping things up academically, we are starting the day with 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. study hall from Monday to Thursday.
"Study hall is about improving upon our GPA."
There's nothing like getting up early to get the day started. That's what we do here at UMass.
The first lifting session focused predominantly on our lower body, followed by 4x200m hill runs. It was tough. Coming back from break, everyone was a little tight and sore, but the encouragement and overall attitude was positive.
"It was a great second day of being back to start to the summer" said senior guard, Dee Montgomery. " I thought that everyone lifted and ran hard."
Even though I ran and lifted during my break, this first run kicked my butt...BIG TIME! My teammate Aisha Rodney and I must have looked like a pair of wounded walruses on the side of the hill. We have never experienced cramping and lactic acid so bad in our entire lives...or at least for a very long time. After completing the last 200m, we both crumbled to the ground. Between rolling around on the concrete, groaning and laughing at the same time, our legs continued to cramp and seize up.
"My legs are having babies." Aisha yelled out.
"Oh my God, my legs are having contractions!" I yelled back.
Meanwhile, the rest of our teammates were just looking at us like "really guys."
After hobbling back to the training room, ice baths were next. That was an entire other story. We're not dramatic at all.
Our strength and conditioning coach George Greene also had some encouraging words, "It looks like they've done what they were supposed to. They're in shape, making things move forward easier with the summer runs."
The remainder of the week went smoothly and we continued to make progress and work hard. Our bodies were a little tired and sore after the first week of getting back into the swing of things. We used the weekend to catch up on some much needed sleep, recovery and soaking up the sun.
For four of us on the team (Carolann Cloutier, Dee Montgomery, Emily Mital and myself) who won't be taking an online class this session, will be participating in community service. We'll be heading down to Holyoke every Tuesday to work with Girls Inc., a non-profit organization, emphasizes girls to be themselves and encouraging them to be bold, strong and smart.
What do we do? Well our focus is to interact, form relationships, mentor and discuss the importance of health and nutrition.
"I think it's going to be fun," says redshirt junior Carolann Cloutier. "It'll be a good experience and I'm looking forward from learning from them."
I'll be taking a video camera down there, so look out for some footage later on!
Okay, well I think that that covers it all as far as the Minutewomen's first week back goes. I'll get back to you all real soon with some photos and film. You're in for a surprise! Whooooo!
Have a great rest of the week.