I truly love spring. It is my favorite time of year for multiple reasons. The weather warming up ahhem…is one. But as I have blogged about in the past, I am honored to be able to coach a girls' basketball team for the Minnesota Hustle, a club in its fifth year of existence. I love coaching, but more than anything I love learning about the game. There is nothing better than having a conversation with your point guard and having them breaking down what they are seeing on the floor. I learn just as much about what she sees than if I were drawing something up on the white board. I love listening to other coaches tell stories about their experiences. It is one of the many things that make this game so special.
This weekend, our basketball family travels to Chicago to take part in the Windy City Classic. I am excited for the girls and the opportunity that each of them has. There will be more than 300 college coaches from all over the United States that will be on hand to watch girls representing over 300 teams try to realize their dreams playing a game.
The tournament is part of the US Junior National (USJN) circuit and is run by Chris Menning. First, let me tell you from a coaching perspective, I have never been part of a tournament so well run on the front end. There are so many moving pieces that Chris handles including silly questions from coaches such as myself who want to make sure they don't miss anything. Prompt with email responses from a team of one is something that should be applauded.
"When I left the University of Illinois 8 years ago I knew there was a demand for a spring exposure weekend in the Midwest as all of the coaches both travel & college had to fly out east for true competition. To see this event go from 60 teams and 60 college coaches in our first year having a steady growth of 40-60 teams annually to now becoming the 2nd largest spring recruiting event in the country with 340+ teams and over 300 college coaches scheduled to attend this weekend including the likes of Geno Aueriemma from UConn is incredibly humbling. This has served a great purpose for the girls basketball travel teams in this region & should be yet another great weekend of basketball."- Chris Menning USJN & Blue Star Basketball
What a great experience this will be for the girls. If how the tournament is run on the front end is any indication of how it will actually be there, what a grand weekend we are going to have. I can't wait to meet Chris and tell him face to face how excited we are to be playing in something so amazing.
I don't know how we'll play this weekend. It is our first tournament with a few new pieces. I do know we'll play hard and represent the Hustle organization and the state of Minnesota with class. Having coached the majority of these girls for two years or more, I know what they can do on the court. They have worked hard the past three weeks to get to this point; I guess it's time to see what we can do on the floor. It's funny because even with the new faces, it feels like this group has been playing together forever.
In three short weeks, 8 juniors and the 3 sophomores from Washburn that I have dubbed the triplets, have bonded and are about to begin a journey together that will link them for life. Greater than anything that will come out of this weekend on the floor, will be the stories the girls will have and will share about the beginning of that journey in the windy city.