An Aggie Halloween

gb-headerAs the moon rises and darkness descends around communities all across the nation, Halloween is again upon us.  And with that, we thought we’d share a few Trick or Tweet moments of yesteryear from your Aggies.

hw-taylorTaylor Cooper

My favorite movie growing up was “The Lion King.”  I wanted to be like Simba and Nala, so I chose to be a Tigress for Halloween. My mom teased my hair out like a lion’s mane. I was “Taylor the Lioness” instead. Gosh…I was cute!

hw-jas-lJasmine Lumpkin

The most memorable costume that I wore for Halloween when I was younger was a witch. I always looked forward to getting dressed up for Halloween and picking a different costume every year. Halloween growing up was one of my favorite holidays not only for the candy but dressing up too. My favorite thing about this costume was the green hair – lol! Nobody could even recognize me, and I thought it was really funny.

hw-caylinneCorinne Martin

Halloween as a kid was always fun because we got to dress up and be something besides ourselves for that one night. I can just remember how excited people were to see us looking alike and dressed as little princesses. As much and I really enjoyed going trick or treating as a kid, I always enjoyed the day a little more because creating those memories with my parents and siblings was the most important thing to me.

Caylinne Martin

As a kid, I remember dressing up as a princess and going around the nearby neighborhoods to trick or treat with my friends. I was so excited to show off my princess dress and get candy.

hw-alyssaAlyssa Michalke

My dad introduced me to the outdoors at a very young age, and in addition to that, I’ve always been somewhat of an adrenaline junkie. I was interested in a job that combined those two passions, and it seemed that a soldier or police officer would be the perfect combination, so I often chose to be one of those two for Halloween. I always enjoyed dressing up in camouflage or with a uniform and badge, and Halloween was always one of my favorite holidays for the free candy and sense of community in the small town I grew up in!

hw-danniDanni Williams

Growing up, Halloween was one of a kid’s favorite holidays. Not only because of all the free candy you get but for that day you could be anything you wanted to be. I also enjoyed Halloween because it was a time that I got to hang out with my best friend and her family. We grew up together and so every year we looked forward to enjoying our candy together and just having fun!

 

 

The Sorority

aw-wright2By Amy Wright

Do you love the game of basketball?  I mean really love it.  Through the 6 am workouts.  The extra line drills.  The injuries.  The losses.  The yelling and screaming from coaches, teammates and fans. Do you REALLY love the game of basketball?  If you can answer this question whole heartedly “YES!”— then you can join The Sorority.

The Sorority consists of about 20 young women, all of whom have had the life changing experience of playing point guard for Coach Gary Blair.  I am positive from 1985, when Coach Blair took over at Stephen F. Austin, to our most recent inductee in 2016 from Texas A&M, Jordan Jones, we all share the same experiences of growth, challenge and change.  But the one thing that reigns consistent through 20 some years is all of our love for the game of basketball.  We all would not have developed into the women we are today and developed into the best basketball players we could be, without him and our love for the game.

“You can’t bust a grape!”  This was Coach Blair’s roundabout way of telling me I was too soft.  I feel like each semester of my career at Arkansas was highlighted by a Blairism.  But each deliberate and challenging catch phrase gave me the opportunity to prove him wrong about the type of player I was going to be in the SEC.  I rounded out my freshman year with “Honey, head up to the popcorn vendor.”  I can’t tell you how many stairs I ran at Bud Walton Arena, but I was the most in shape point guard in the SEC.  I couldn’t get a play right.  I couldn’t get 4 people on the same page to run a near perfect play call.  This was my responsibility as a Coach Blair PG.  This was my team and I needed to take ownership of it.  And I was going to run until I did.

ag-wright-1Heading into sophomore year, I was finally coming into my own as a leader on and off the court.  But I still had major issues to be an impact point guard at the SEC level.  Coach Blair knew he needed me.  He continuously pushed me to do better than my best.  “Aaaaamay.  Take care of that pumpkin today.”  All he wanted was for me to stop turning the ball over.  Of course I had the normal 19 year old excuses. “She’s not getting open on the wing!”  “She stopped running!”  “Why is everything always my fault!”  It wasn’t until a very strong phone call from my mother set me straight.  “Amy, you wanted to play in the toughest conference in the country.  You wanted to play immediately.  You want to be one of the best players in the country.  How is Coach Blair asking you to play 40 minutes a game, trusting you with his team and pushing you to be better than you are such a bad thing?  Sounds to me like you’re being a baby.”  Awww, Big K. (That’s my,  my teammates and my friends endearing name for my mother)  I knew I was out numbered.  It was time to change my mental game.  By the end of my sophomore year, I had finally earned my first “Atta baby,” from GB.

My junior and senior years were very different than my previous two years.  Though some of the best times of my life, the Coach Blair, Point Guard relationship continued to grow in a more basketball manner.  I had earned his trust as a player.  Now it was up to me to decipher exactly what “Do the THING & RUN the THING” actually meant during a game.  I always took it as it was my turn.  My turn to call the plays for his Lady Back teams.  Rarely did I turn over the pumpkin and rarely did I have to go see the popcorn vendor.  Many Blairisms came out of frustration from either GB or Coach Schaefer (Current Head Coach at Mississippi State) and I could only translate them as just do better.  One of my all-time favorites was “Do it for my twins!”  This was a Schaefer daily message, begging our team to defend with the intensity and passion he had as a coach.

aw-colsonLooking back at my experience and now experiencing the coaching side and working with Coach Blair, I can honestly say he was right.  He was right about my ability as a player along with many other players.  He was right in the way he pushed me beyond any other coach I had ever played for.  He made me a basketball player, not just a kid that played basketball.  He made me think the game for myself and others.  He gave me responsibility beyond what I needed or deserved  and forced me to accept it and grow into a leader.

I enjoy seeing my Soro sisters on the road now as a coach. Briefly, let me run through the lineage:

Christy Smith (Current Head Coach at Incarnate Word University)
Amy Wright (Assistant Coach at Texas A&M University)
Toccarra Williams (Current real estate sales & founder of the AAU program Sweet Rebound)
Aqua Franklin (Associate Head Coach at University of Kansas)
Sydney Colson (WNBA San Antonio Stars & Assistant Coach at Rice University)
Sydney Carter (Professional Player – Riga Latvia)
Adrienne Pratcher (Teacher College Station ISD & Associate Head Coach College Station High School)
Jordan Jones (WNBA Draft Pick Chicago Sky – Professional Player – Poland)

aw-carterNot a bad line up.  The thing that we all have in common is our experiences.  We’ve been broken to be built back up.  We’ve been given responsibility to fail and succeed.  We’ve been given an opportunity to grow and find ourselves and our dreams.  Bringing us all together with these experiences is The Sorority.

I had a short time being around Aqua Franklin during my graduate assistant ship at Texas A&M.  This is where I learned it wasn’t just me that had been through this unique experience, Aqua was starting her freshman season at A&M.  The one thing I know we all hate about the other is the point guard before us.  I know my name was Christy for 3 years while I was at Arkansas.  This was coach referring to Christy Smith (Arkansas 1994-1998) another Indiana kid that had taken a chance to come down south and attend the Gary Blair Point Guard University!  Aqua was referred to as Amy and I’m willing to bet Syndey (Colson) was referred to as Aqua.  Usually GB had a unique way of bringing us together because we could share our stories of anger about him, but with this small “mix-up,” he found a way for all of us to compete.  Prove that we are and will be better than the last point guard to run the show.

Being the actual point guard to go through this process is so different than being a coach watching 18 to 22 year olds go through the process.  I have had the privilege of working with 3 of the best that will ever go through the Texas A&M women’s basketball program, Adrienne Pratcher; Jordan Jones and Curtyce Knox.  All 3 unique in their own way.

aw-pratcherAdrienne was pretty much past the “Whoa is me” stage of becoming a member of The Sorority.  By the time I had arrived at Texas A&M, Pratcher was a quiet leader and an extremely intelligent and highly competitive basketball player.  She had already figured out Coach Blair’s jabs of motivation.  “Pratcher, you gotta think hunny, you gotta think.”  “You’re going to let a freshman take your spot.”  Pratcher knowing already all he wanted was her best.  Pratcher never took what happened in the game or practice personally.  She knew he was pushing her to be a better player. Much like her leadership style, Pratcher had quietly taken the GB Blueprint for running a team and guided the team to the 2013 SEC Tournament title.  I think she was able to prove Coach Blair wrong in that a point guard doesn’t always have to be vocal, emotional or flamboyant.  Pratcher did it her way, and she did it very well.

aw-jonesI spent all 4 years of Jordan Jones’ career at Texas A&M by her side. She went through every emotion, every challenge and every change Coach Blair was going to put in front of her.  Jordan reminded me so much of Sydney Colson with a splash of Amy Wright it was so hard at times to watch or listen to her go through practice or a game.  Jordan was by far one of the smartest point guards I have ever met.  If Jordan put her mind to something, it was going to be done and be done well.  On those off days, and we all have those off days, it was so hard to real Jordan in from the Coach Blair style of coaching.  He wanted you to be great, even on your off days.  And he was going to push you until he saw it.  On those days I felt somewhat helpless as I knew exactly what he was doing, but Jordan was so smart and so talented, she knew she could still get the job done even on her worst day.  “Jordan, play the game with a smile on your face.  Act like you enjoy it.”  This was a new Blairism for me, but I knew where he was coming from.  GB gave Jordan the keys to a Corvette and he so wanted her to enjoy the drive!  Coach Blair and I both knew Jordan’s potential, the toughest thing was unlocking it daily.  Jordan is an emotional leader.  She won tons of game in an Aggie uniform and in my opinion, is one of the best point guards to ever roll through the SEC and Texas A&M.

“It’s a speaking part hunny!”  I think Curtyce Knox hears this in her sleep at night.  For 3 years Coach Blair has been all over her to talk on the basketball court.  Pushing her to become a verbal leader.  While Tyce is still growing in this aspect, she has definitely marked herself a leader for this year’s team.  Curtyce is a 5th year senior.  Curtyce is a graduate of Texas A&M.  Curtyce has loving mother and family that adore the Aggies.  Curtyce is a mother to a beautiful baby girl, Haven.  Curtyce is now the point guard for the Texas A&M women’s basketball team.  You know that old saying, “there’s light at the end of the tunnel,”  I used to say this to Curtyce all the time.  Right now she is shining in that light.  And while her path to this point may not have been the norm, it was the right path for Curtyce.  Although she has not faced adversity in a game, she has seen how adversity has played out with Sydney Colson, Adrienne Pratcher and Jordan Jones.  She may not talk a lot, but this kid observes everything.  She knows the expectations and what it takes to be competitive in the SEC, for her and the team.  Tyce got her first “Atta baby” the second day of practice.  While Tyce doesn’t talk much, her smile said it all in that moment.

fullsizerenderThe Sorority is unique.  It’s an experience of a lifetime.  It’s an ongoing membership that will never die and carry on the legacy of great people and great basketball players, along with a pretty great coach, Gary Blair.

My Last First Day of Practice

tyce-aggie-way-pic2

By Curtyce Knox

My last first day of practice!

I go into this practice with a clear and concise understanding of my role as the point guard and leader, armed with the knowledge that comes with the experience I have received over the past four years.  I have had the opportunity to be coached by one of the best coaching staffs in the country.  For the fifth year, I will go into my last first day of practice with a different attitude – willing to learn and willing to teach.

Having five new players it will be a learning process in our first few days of practice, but I know it is my job as well as the coaches to help them adapt and understand how things work.  I want to inspire them to learn our offense and defense while handling our demanding practices.

Up until now, we have all worked individually with our position coach while dedicating ourselves to strength and conditioning.  Now it is time!  It is time to put all of that work together as a unit and make magic happen.  As Coach Blair says, “we are not rebuilding, we are reloading.”

I have grown so much over these last four years – on and off the court – thanks to this coaching staff.  They’ve even brought in great coaches to talk with us such as Don Meyer and Kevin Eastman along with the likes of team building speaker Felicia Allen-Hall.  I had the opportunity to sit down with WNBA point guard Temeka Johnson who really inspired and motivated me and that is a moment that I will cherish forever.  All of these people have left a message that resonated with me.

My last first day of practice!

I go in on a mission and with team and individual goals.  For the team, my goal is simply to be the best that we can be and to maintain the trust and respect of our fans as well as make our coaches proud of our effort. My personal goal is to LEAD!  Lead by example on and off the court and be a great teammate.  Another goal of mind is to have a breakout season that will have me considered to play on the next level.

And I know I’m prepared because of both success and failure…because of strengths and weaknesses…because of the hurdles I’ve had to overcome.  I’m prepared!

And it all begins Tuesday, October 4 – on my last first day of practice.

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”

-Vince Lombardi