Legacy of Leadership: Women’s basketball sends player to national coaching program

Colleen Drangines, Sports Editor

Many college students eagerly await the days when their passion can become their career, and women’s basketball senior Harlyn Wyatt is no exception. With a recent invitation to attend the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s “So You Want To Be A Coach” program, she is one step closer to turning her dream into a reality.

As the WBCA’s longest-running program, “So You Want To Be A Coach” has helped more than 400 women to develop careers in coaching and related fields. Set to be held April 3-5 this year in Tampa, Florida, the program will provide participants with the opportunity to network with and learn from the experiences of those in field and aims to encourage a passion for coaching and highlight the excellence found within women’s basketball.

Former program participant and Tulane player Olivia Grayson, who now works for Tulane as director of Student-Athlete Development and Video for the women’s basketball team, found inspiration in the speakers at the conference, especially Clemson University Assistant Coach Shimmy Gray-Miller.

“She spoke about being fired and how you can build relationships to where you will always have a job,” Grayson said. “She spoke about doing this for the right reasons, and if you’re coaching for the right reasons, you’ll always have somewhere to do that. And I think that that was really important to hear coming right out of college.”

Wyatt’s participation marks the fifth consecutive year that a Tulane player has attended the event. She is one of 60 invited players and the only one coming from an American Athletic Conference team.

Even after more than 10 years of playing the game, the Atlanta native still discusses basketball with excitement, admitting that she is not ready to leave the sport once her college career comes to an end. The many years of experience have left Wyatt confident about her abilities to lead the next generation of basketball.

“I know the position they’re in so I feel like I can help them in the best way possible because I’ve actually played,” Wyatt said. “I can inspire and be a leader and do what I want to do, make a change in people’s lives through coaching.”

The program will offer Wyatt a behind-the-scenes look at running a basketball program at the collegiate level, an opportunity she is thrilled about, as it will introduce her to the aspects she has not gotten to see as a player. Another former Tulane player and program participant Leslie Vorpahl, who is now a graduate assistant coach for the team, explained that the hidden sides of coaching are not as glamorous as they may seem.

“There are negative aspects that you have to consider,” Vorpahl said. “It’s a grind, for sure, so you gotta love it.”

Despite the challenges within the field, Wyatt has found constant encouragement and confirmation of her leadership potential in her coaches at Tulane. She’s relished learning from Head Coach Lisa Stockton, who has had monumental success in her career. Through her impeccable work ethic, calm demeanor and constant patience, Coach Stockton has provided her players with an excellent example of what it means to be a leader.

“She’s just amazing,” Wyatt said. “She’s so successful and someone that you want to strive to be when you’re a coach.”

Wyatt, Grayson and Vorpahl are just a few examples of the legacy of leadership Tulane’s women’s basketball program has established. For each of these players, a common goal drives the commitment to coaching, the desire to make a difference in the lives of future players.

“If this isn’t your passion, if it isn’t your purpose, then I will say you need to find something else to do,” Grayson said. “Taking this job as serious as I know our coaches do, it definitely makes a difference, not only for the players on the court, but also for their lives in general.”

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