by Matthew Antonic
KANSAS CITY, MO — Each coach who spoke at the early-afternoon Pin Hitters session of College Camp Friday wanted to make sure they gave the players a tidbit or two to take away.
Central Michigan coach Mike Gawlik ran through drills on Court 15 at the Kansas City Convention Center, but at the conclusion of the camp, he was more interested in talking about philosophy.
“What’s important is how you are when things get ugly, not when things are going great,” he said.
Gawlik had done his teaching on the court and wanted the girls to take something away off of it. Too often, he said, players can get caught up in the highlight reels, and a loss of composure when the going gets tough can lead to loss of points.
“In a camp where you’re trying to get exposure to college coaches, I think it’s a valuable thing to know, that too many people throw points away when things get ugly and point the finger at somebody else,” he said.
The message certainly resonated with Taylor Cary, a member of the Colorado Momentum Club. "To me, that means that you’re only as strong as your weakest quality,” Cary said. "If you can bring up your weakest quality, then you can overall better your game.”
Gawlik helped run the skills camp with three other Division I coaches from Creighton, South Carolina and Oregon State. For 90 minutes, players were put through a variety of high-energy drills.Some of the drills were familiar, while others came with new wrinkles. What they all had in common was an emphasis on energy and tempo.
“A lot of these were drills I’ve done before, they just kind of had different spins on them,” Cary said, “which is cool because you can see the different coaching styles.”
The benefits of repetition were on full display. As the players continued to go through the drills, the fundamentals became sharper and sharper. There were no spectators by the courts, as the games had yet to begin. The only ones present to evaluate were the coaches, who seemed to be pleased with the work ethic on display.
All four coaches running the camp came from different regions of the country, running athletics programs in different conferences. They ran the camp as one, but made an effort to give the players unique coaching advice to improve their game, and to motivate them before the tournament commences.
“The great thing is they get a different voice, a different way of doing something.” said Oregon State coach Mark Barnard. “As we were trying to tell them, there’s a lot of different ways to do things, and just to be open to that kind of learning."