Kellie Harper’s press conference at Tennessee Lady Vols basketball media day
Tennessee coach Kellie Harper addresses the media before her team’s media day at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Cora Hall, Knoxville News Sentinel
When it comes to building chemistry on a roster of 16 players, some of it is organic and some of it takes intentional effort.
One of the Tennessee Lady Vols’ intentional teambuilding activities was making vision boards on their fall retreat last weekend. Players included career goals, quotes or pets – but all of them had a national championship on it.
“There are things that we’ve done to try to help facilitate those things,” Tennessee coach Kellie Harper said. “We will continue to do that, I don’t think you can ever check that box. I think that’s something that you have to work on just as hard as anything else. So we devote time to it.”
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Sophomore guard Kaiya Wynn said every player’s board was vastly different, and it showed everyone’s personalities.
“I think that was one of the best intentional things they’ve done,” Wynn said. “Because you kind of see your teammate and your sister in a new light and different things that they want to focus on.”
UT assistant coach Joy McCorvey said besides the fact that it’s vitally important for the team to know each others’ interests and strengths outside of basketball, the vision boards went deeper than that. The team also went to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, and the vision boards were also a time for the players to reflect.
“Just understanding how far we’ve come, especially as African Americans,” McCorvey said. “And the idea of creating a vision board to be whatever you want to be in this world started with people that sacrificed and people that gave their lives for a vision and a goal that they may not have necessarily gotten to see come to fruition. It’s no different than a team – we have to sacrifice, we have to have a vision and we have to all be on the same page.”
Part of getting to know teammates includes getting to know their background and where they come from, senior point guard Jasmine Powell said. The trip to the museum was important, as well as the conversations that followed.
“I think it was really great to get there and to be able to talk about as a team afterwards,” Powell said. “How do we feel about that? What are some things that you learned today that you haven’t learned before? … It’s that vital information that we can all share with each other and how we feel about that moving forward. What can we do to further grow that relationship with everybody?”
Everything Harper does is intentional, she said, from small meetings to rooming lists on trips to the activities on the fall retreat. This week leading up to the team’s exhibition game on Sunday, Harper is having individual meetings with all her players.
“Everything we’re doing is trying to help foster that culture and that team chemistry,” Harper said. “When you have six new players, that’s a lot, and you’ve got to work on the chemistry and and help facilitate them getting to know each other.”
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