Monday, August 10, 2009

Player Diary- Avery Queen- SA Finest

Avery Queen with Coach Mittie (above)
Avery Queen with Dunking Sensation, Britney Griner

It was Wednesday, and on our way to the MAYB tournament in Oklahoma, we had two stops.

Our first stop was Baylor University. There were 3 reasons to why I was excited to tour the green and gold, sic ‘em bears facility.

1) When I was younger, I could remember that when my family and I would travel to my Gran’s house, we would always stop in Waco for an ice cream cone and a visit to the live Baylor Bear pit, to see Lady and Joy.
2) My Gran went to Baylor, and has always been talking about how great of a school Baylor is.
3) I’ve always heard that Baylor had a really good Women’s Basketball team and a great recruiting class, so I was excited to meet some of the players and the coaches.

Once we entered the two glass doors, the first thing I saw was their green and gold walls, pictures of their recent players, and their 2005 NCAA National Championship trophy. It was right smack-dab in the middle of the hall, standing tall in a clear, glass case. I thought to myself, wow, I think I’m going to really like it here! My hopes were set high, until I walked through those doors and the nice secretary greeted me and said, “Hi Mrs. Queen, all of our coaches are out on vacation and you are visiting with the video coordinator. Let me get him so he can show you around.”

It actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I’m always excited to see the locker rooms, because every school’s locker room is totally different. Once the video coordinator showed us all around, he took us to the main part of the locker room (where everybody has their own cubbies and where they get ready for a game) and Brittney Griner was standing there with some other freshmen. Once I saw her, the first thing I thought was “dang, she is really tall!” Since I am 6’0, being approached by a 6’8 soon-to-be college basketball player was pretty amazing. I just couldn’t believe she was that tall! Of course I had my picture taken with her which was probably the highlight of my trip!

There is always a series of questions that I try to ask at every college campus that I tour, just so I can get an idea of what that school has to offer. For instance here is my general list:

1. What kind of academic support is given to the basketball girls? Do the girls miss a lot of classes when they travel, if so how do they get back on track for school the next day? Do they have required tutoring sessions and available help for the players to be successful?

2. What are the living arrangements for the girls (regarding roommates and housing) for their freshman year and the following years?

3. Is there normally a nutritionist at the school to help the girls make healthy eating choices? Where to the basketball players eat? Do they eat in separate eating facilities or on their own?

4. Are the scholarships they give full, or are some partial?

5. Last but not least, I want them to tell me about community service requirements.

You would be surprised at the different answers that you get to these 5 simple questions.
Most of Baylor’s facilities were really nice, but their locker room space was smaller than what I had seen at Oklahoma and Texas A&M. I really want to go back for a visit when I can meet with one of the coaches and get feedback on my game and get additional information on my 5 most important questions!

Thursday morning finally came, and we had our big appointment for TCU. I was really excited for this visit because after we scheduled the visit, we sent them a video of a skill work out with Coach Ray and then they invited me to stay and attend their skill academy on that same day.

Once we got there, the assistant, Mrs. Christian was there waiting for our arrival. She greeted us at the front door and knew we were coming. A few minutes later, Coach Haut walked in. She was very excited to meet us and to start showing us around.

We saw their practice gyms, the girl’s locker rooms, and their main stadium. Coach Haut also took us to the academic center, where you would go for tutoring or if you need to use a school computer. What was really nice, was that she took us around campus in her car showing us different apartments we could live in, different school buildings that would be important, and just mainly the perimeter of the campus. Once we got back to the athletic center, she took us in one of the dorms across the street so I could actually see the living arrangements. It was a 4 bedroom dorm, 2 baths and it had a living area for the girls to visit in.
Then all my questions started to trickle in. I was very pleased with Coach Haut’s answers and thought it was really a good “fit” for me.

Coach Haut also gave me a recruiting book and while I was flipping through it there were a couple of pages from them doing community service projects with helping little kids, setting up a camp , and various other things. Coach Haut said that community service is a big deal to them too, and they try to do at least 2 projects a year.

After the tour, I had to change into my workout clothes. The Athletic trainer, Coach Valerie, came and introduced herself and took me away to her 50 minute workout! We worked on footwork, speed, power, agility, and helping getting ourselves stronger. The other girls in “the camp” were complaining the whole time that it was “too hot”, or that “they just didn’t want to do it”, jeez if we said that at practice, Coach Ray would have us running 3 sets of 18s!!!
The agility workout wasn’t even bad, but the other girls just made it seem that way. Coach Valerie told me afterward…. “you know that you are a lot stronger than you think you are...” and that made me feel good!

The shooting and dribbling workout with Coach Adam was next. I was excited that the drills were ones that I already knew and I made almost all of my jump shots! After about 20 minutes, Coach Mittie, the head coach came in, pulled me aside, and started working with me 1-on-1. He showed me some drills that I could work on and some moves to start practicing; he really gave me some good pointers and good advice on how to improve my skills. He was very positive and encouraging!

After the work out, I was really hot and sweaty and they knew that we were getting in the car to travel to our tournament in Oklahoma. We were going to go back to my Gran’s so I could take a shower, but the Mrs. Johnson told me that I could just take a shower in their locker room. She took me to the women’s coaches’ locker room and showed me how to use their shower, gave me a towel and made sure I had everything I needed to take a shower. They were really nice. I mean, how many colleges offer to let you take a shower in their women coaches locker room?
Now that I have visited a couple of colleges this summer, I was very impressed with TCU. It was a very good experience for me, and I’m glad that I did it. It was probably a school that I may not have thought about until I received a camp brochure from them in the spring.

I am hoping that these visits may get me one step closer to playing college basketball; I just have to keep working hard and persevering.