Alana Beard on Marissa Coleman
Mentor and mentee.
By Alana Beard / @Alanabeard20
What’s up SLAMonline?!
April of 2009 was my first time walking into the Washington Mystics locker room with Julie Plank (JP) as our head coach. As I walked in, I noticed something different. I had been in the first-end locker since being drafted by Mystics, but that wasn’t the case anymore.
I had been moved.
Of course, my immediate reaction was to grab my name tag and move it back. But before I did, I was stopped in my tracks by JP.
“Nope,” JP told me as she pointed at Marissa (“Riss”) Coleman‘s locker right next to mine. “Everything we do is for a reason.”
Marissa was a rookie out of Maryland in 2009. JP reiterated that my duty was to take Riss under my wing and teach her what it takes to be successful at the professional level. I didn’t have a problem doing that at all. Although, I kinda-sorta misdirected her on our first team trip by intentionally giving her the wrong way to the bus (ooops, my bad). However, since then, I like to think I have done a more than okay job !
She now gets it. Riss now understands what it means to work for everything she wants basketball wise. Not that she didn’t understand it before, but I just think it’s now a different understanding. There are no shortcuts in her mind. There are no givens. She now understands that if she wants it, she’s gotta go get it. I can say as a rookie, she never really “got it.”
She knew what she was in college and expected it to just happen the same way at the professional level. That’s where a lot of rookies make their mistakes. Some rookies come in and just “get it.” Others think they have it but really don’t (if that makes sense).
It’s all about understanding and accepting the transition. And at that point, she didn’t yet.
Riss came back early from overseas to work on her game this past off-season. She knew I was here working on mine, and she thought it would be beneficial for her to do the same. However, in the beginning, she still didn’t get. She came in and worked hard with me, JP, and the crew for an hour or so and that was it. She worked hard, yeah, but in my mind she wasn’t there yet. My mom always said ” you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink it.”
Riss was that horse (haha, don’t get mad Riss!).
It brings a huge smile to my face when I see her understanding what it takes now. When someone is constantly working when things aren’t going the way they expected them to go, that’s when you know they “got” it.
Her words to me after the first few games of the season were, “I just expected to start the season with a bang because I worked so hard before the season started.” Well, it didn’t happen the way she expected it to, but it didn’t stop her from working her butt off. She has now had three good games in a row filling the stat sheet up; rebounding, scoring, assists and most importantly bringing consistent energy.
I don’t expect her to slow down any time soon. I’m proud of you, Riss…whoop whoop!!
Until next time, when they say I can’t…I will!