Very moving piece on the ways center Moniquee Alexander coped with the death of her mother to breast cancer when she was 11 years old:
Coach Nikki Caldwell proved to be a confidant for Alexander right after they met:
“She’s positive and humbled by it,” Caldwell said. “She has such an amazing heart. She has a gentle soul in that big body of her’s.”
Then there’s today’s story in the Daily Bruin (bless that newspaper for all the coverage they’ve given the team) about reserve guard Allison Taka. Under the former coach, Taka sat on the bench, and as a result, lost all her confidence. Caldwell and her teammates have helped restore that:
In that meeting, Taka said she made it clear to her new head coach that she was concerned with the apparent lack of a role she had on the team. Caldwell, however, was quick to soothe those concerns, falling back on what has become a team mantra over the course of a season.
“She did have concerns,” Caldwell said. “Our meeting was about her getting to know what my expectations were of her. I wasn’t basing those expectations on anything except what we’ve seen this year.”
“I told her minutes are going to be earned, never given, and she’s earned it.”
Taka now comes off the bench regularly and is relied on to hit shots from the outside, provide an energy boost and challenge opponents defensively. It is a role reversal that has taken some time to get used to. Coaches and teammates have all made an effort to help Taka establish confidence in her playing ability, something the guard says has been difficult.
“It’s taken me awhile to start believing in myself, to really grasp that everyone was important, from the starters to the bench players,” Taka said. “It’s still hard for me to grasp that I actually have an important role.”
Now that’s awesome.