Conversation with Clarissa: Part two
In part two of "Conversation with Clarissa," Davis-Wrightsil discusses the demands of competition and what it takes to be a champion, expectations for the Longhorns basketball players, in and outside the classroom and the court, and on preparations for the 2006-07 season.
This spring, Clarissa Davis-Wrightsil, the most decorated and honored player in Women's Basketball history, had two significant life-changing happenings. On April 29, she was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, and one month later on May 31, she then returned to her alma mater as an assistant basketball coach on Jody Conradt's staff. Prior to her appointment, Davis-Wrightsil had been the driving force behind bringing a WNBA team to her hometown of San Antonio. She served in the San Antonio Spurs Sports & Entertainment (SS&E) organization from 2000 through March of 2006, most recently as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) for WNBA Silver Stars.
Davis-Wrightsil helped lead the Longhorns to the 1986 NCAA Championship and was a six-time National Player of the Year for Conradt's squad, earning the elite honors from Naismith twice (1986-87, 1988-89) while being named winner of the nation's top honor - the Margaret Wade Trophy - in 1988-89 as well. She also claimed 1988-89 National Player of the Year by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, Champion and Mercedes-Benz. She then gained incredible experiences as a professional player in Europe (1989-1996, 1999) and in the United States, playing in the [now-defunct] ABL and in the WNBA for the Phoenix Mercury.
TexasSports.com caught up with the former 1992 USA Olympian prior to the hectic July recruiting period which finds the Longhorns coaches traveling across the country evaluating the nation's top talent.
On using her playing experience at the collegiate, USA Basketball and pro levels as a basis for coaching... "I love competition, and one thing that I learned from playing here at Texas were the demands of competition at its highest level.
I always wanted to be the best as a player, but then I figured out that everything was a competition, so that's what really drove me. The process of setting goals and trying to reach them pushed me further and further, and I think towards the end of my basketball career I started understanding the power of influence. When you do that, you see your position and where you are a lot differently. I realized that when I was preparing myself, I wasn't just preparing for me, but I was preparing to impact others around me, which as a result created a chain reaction.
I use my experiences as messages to the Longhorn team. Yes, I've been the lone freshman, I've been the one competing for playing time, I've been the injured one, I'm the one who has experienced the tough academics - everything that they are facing or going to face here.
My role now is to support success, and it's my job to make sure Coach Conradt is successful. It's our job to make sure that we're covering her and helping her and our program to succeed.
I have been on a lot of teams, and when you have a group which is together in everything they do, then you can get a lot done. Talent is needed in order to be successful, of course, but more importantly, everyone has to be going in the same direction. I've lived that philosophy and will do my best to impart that on our players."
On the expectations of current and future Longhorn players as student-athletes...
This University has everything for a student-athlete to succeed in the classroom. We have a first class-academic center and resources and academic counselors. The student-athletes register for the classes they need, and then they have a tremendous support staff and many tutors wiling to help.
Then, I tell everyone to look at the sports facilities and everything that is offered here in terms of facilities, weight rooms, sports medicine - these Texas student-athletes have everything they need to succeed on the court. They have great practice facilities, athletic and student trainers, all the latest equipment in the world, great travel by air charters, and much more. With everything at their fingertips, it is up to the student-athlete to manage everything effectively and maximally."
On her preparations for the 2006-07 Longhorns season...
As a coach, it's our job to teach the players, so we have to show them and put them in their areas of comfort. Being an effective coach is not just about running the team, but helping the team by explaining everything - every play - in the best way where the players understand the first time they hear it. The more we expand their basketball IQ the better off they'll be, because then they understand the entire game as a whole.
We've always had a team where we execute and get the stops we're looking for, so now it is about building the confidence. Everyone wants affirmation and support. If people don't have the confidence to do their job, they will struggle. And, as a coach, that is where we are needed. I just cannot wait to get on the court this fall and get to work with them all!"