Career Corner: Stephanie Ready
Posted Sep 11 2002 10:40AM
Ever wonder what it's like to work in the NBA? NBA.com/Canada's monthly Career Corner gives you the lowdown on the jobs of NBA personalities. This month, Stephanie Ready speaks about her role as the first woman to coach in men's professional sports as the assistant coach of the National Basketball Development League's Greenville Groove.
Ready on being the first female coach of a men's professional team:
At that time, I was coaching both volleyball and basketball. It was crazy but I was used to it, having played both sports at Coppin State. Midway through the season, the women's basketball coach left the program. Coach Fang put his men's associate head coach on the job as the interim coach of the women's team. In February, I was promoted to a full-time recruiting assistant. I was the first woman recruiter in Division 1 men's basketball.
I received a phone call from Rob Levine (NBA senior vice president, new league development) and Karl Hicks (executive director, new league development), and I was very, very surprised. They told me about the National Basketball Developmental League, how the league is being run, what they are looking for and what they are trying to accomplish with the league. They called to gauge my level of interest, which was, of course, extremely high. Rob and Karl were surprised that I remained so calm on the phone but the reason was, I thought it might be one of my friends on the phone pulling a prank! I sent them a resume that night and spoke with my boss, who was all for it. Though I wasn't offered the position, I knew at this point it was a possibility because they had contacted me. That made my odds a little greater. I had several conversations with Rob and Karl again, as well as (then Groove head coach) Milton Barnes, before I was officially hired.
Ready on her role as assistant coach:
I assisted Coach Barnes in putting his player notebooks together with offensive plays, defensive schemes, and the rules and regulations of the NBDL. Milt Newton (director of player personnel, NBDL) assisted each of the teams with providing a list of available NBDL players prior to the draft. We had to go through the draft lists to see if there was anyone that we knew or who we'd seen play before and discuss their abilities to determine which players can do what. This was my first year under Coach Barnes so I had to get a feel for what he likes to do, not just on a day-to-day basis, but also his basketball philosophy. He's very similar to Coach Mitchell: he likes to go up and down, and he's a very good defensive coach, so I know we're going to have an athletic team so that we can stop people on defence.
Once players arrived, we had to put together a schedule of what we were going to do that day in practice. We'll be keeping track of all of the roster moves throughout the league. We have put together our tentative schedule for the year in terms of practice, and our team travel plans of when we're going to leave and where we're practicing, which is a blueprint to work from.
We go through videotapes of games, and breakdowns of both our own players and our opponents. We make adjustments and corrections to ensure our players are improving, and we also scout opponents for future games.
Coaching is a 24-hour job. You're always on call when you have a team. Anything that happens, even in the middle of the night, you're the person they're going to contact as the assistant coach. You have to be flexible because your schedule is always changing in terms of practice. You have to be there and work hard, no matter what time of day it is.
Ready on the difference between coaching college players and professional players:
At the Division 1 level (Coppin State), like the NBDL, players are trying to get to the NBA. Players are trying to get better, develop their skills and make an impression on the right people. In that sense, it's very, very similar.
Ready on coaching men and women:
Coaching men or women, athletes are always trying to get better. When you're coaching at the highest levels, you will find the more competitive athletes will do whatever it takes to win and also to improve their skills individually. In that sense, I really don't think there's that much difference coaching men and women.
Ready's advice to aspiring coaches:
Try to pick up as much as you can as often as you can. If you are playing competitive basketball, play as much as you can and get as much as you can from your coaches because each coach has a different style, different philosophy and different techniques. You can pick up something from everyone, and you can use this to create your own style and your own philosophy. Some coaches are better than others . . . but then again, you can take that as a lesson of something you don't want to do.
I did speak with a girl in college who wants to become a coach but is not playing collegiately. My advice to her is to become a team manager. You're involved in a lot of things in assisting the coaches. That is a great way to pick coaches' brains, not only learning coaching techniques, but also developing a rapport among coaches. That way, if a job opens up, you may get promoted to graduate assistant or the coach can recommend you for other coaching jobs. The key is to have a reputation for working hard. If you have a reputation as being a hard worker, a coach who may not know you but has heard of you may give you an opportunity you might not otherwise have received.
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