Huddle Up with Gus
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Episode · 1 year ago

Kara Lawson

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Former WNBA and Olympic Champion Kara Lawson was named Duke University’s fifth head women’s basketball coach July 11, 2020. She joins us in the Huddle this week to discuss her journey.    Lawson, a 2003 Tennessee graduate, brings her decorated basketball career, both on and off the court, to the Blue Devils after spending last season as an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics. She had helped Boston to a 43-21 record and into third place in the Eastern Conference prior to the stoppage of the 2019-20 NBA season due to COVID-19. Lawson was the Celtics first female coach in the franchise’s 73-year history. Her impact on the women’s basketball community is evident as she was named one of the 100 most influential people in women’s college basketball as announced by Silver Waves Media in the summer of 2020.     Coaching Experience: 2020-present:  Duke University (Head Coach) 2019-20:  Boston Celtics (Assistant Coach) 2017-present:  USA Basketball 3-on-3 Team (Head Coach)   USA Basketball Highlights: Preparing USA Basketball 3-on-3 Team for 2021 Tokyo Olympics Helped lead 3x3 teams to six gold medals since 2017 Led U18 3x3 teams to three straight titles Led 3x3 men's and women's teams to gold medal at 2019 Pan American Games 2009 National Team Training Camp 2008 National Team (Gold Medal) 2007 FIBA Americas Championship Team (Gold Medal) 2006 National Team Spring Training Team 2001 World University Games (Gold Medal) 1998 World Youth Games Team (Bronze Medal)   WNBA Highlights: Surpassed 3,000 points, 800 rebounds and 700 assists over her 13-year career Led nine of her teams to the playoffs out of 13 seasons 2012 & 2009 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award winner 2007 WNBA All-Star Led Sacramento Monarchs to WNBA Title in 2005 Drafted in the 2003 Draft, No. 5 overall, by the Detroit Shock 2003 WNBA Select Team that played in FIBA World Cup (2nd)   Tennessee Highlights: Guided Tennessee to a 126-17 overall and 54-2 SEC record Led Lady Vols to four straight SEC Tournament and regular season titles Made 2000, 2002 and 2003 NCAA Final Four appearances Ranks sixth all-time in scoring (1,950) Four-time All-SEC First Team (2000-03) Two-time Naismith Player of the Year finalist (2002-03) Two-time U.S. Basketball Writers of America All-America honoree (2002-03) 2003 Kodak All-America 2003 Associated Press Second Team All-America 2003 Arthur Ashe Jr. Female Student-Athlete of the Year 2003 CoSIDA/Verizon First Team Academic All-America selection 2002 Associated Press Third Team All-America 2001 Associated Press Honorable Mention All-America 2001 CoSIDA/Verizon Academic All-District honoree 2000 Women's Basketball Journal Freshman All-America and SEC All-Freshman Team See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Hey everyone, we appreciate you joining us in the huddle. I'm your host, fifteen year NFL quarterback gusts FROT, alongside my longtime friend and Co host Dave Hagar, where we talked to guests about how sports shape their life. Be sure to check us out on our website, dle up with Gustscom, where you can listen to more episodes just like this. Now let's join the huddle. Welcome everyone to the sports circus. I'm your host today, Gust Farat, on huddle up with gusts. You can find us at RADIOCOM or wherever you listen to your favorite podcast, and we want to thank everyone for listening on Youtube and facebook. Also, we want to thank our listeners on kiof ninety seven point nine in Las Vegas, Public Radio Casey Aa, and also the people on Sixteen thirty one digital news. Today our guests is none other than Kara Lawson, the Duke Women's basketball coach. New Duke Women's basketball coach. You may know her from the W NBA, playing at the University of Tennessee and all of her other accolades. She has a gold medal around her neck as well. So Kara thank you for joining me on huddle up with guess how are you? I'm doing great. It's exciting time for us down here at Duke. Our students are back on campus. We start to workouts with our players this week and you just kind of got that beginning of the year, all those exciting feelings amongst the staff and amongst the players about getting started. I'm sure, I'm sure everybody he's excited to get back and get working because we've been in such a downturn with covid. But let's get back to when you were a kid and really how you fell in love with sports. Talk to me about growing up in Alexandria, Virginia. I mean I knew that place well from playing with the redskins. My wife was a nurse at Fairfax Hospital. You know I knew that area really well. But tell me about growing up and why you fell in love with sports. Oh, I got into sports at an early age. My Dad was an active dad in terms of putting us into sports teams and we had a rule in our house that you had the play of sport every season. Didn't matter what it was. You could you could pick what it was, but every season fall winter, in spring you had to be in a sport, and so I try them all. I tried everything. I played a little football and played basketball, played basketball, ran track, played tennis, just really tried everything and wanted to see what spoke to me. You know what I really enjoyed the most, and that was basketbball. So once I got in the fifth of Sixth Grade, I realized that basketball was my favorite. I still played soccer up until high school, but really knew that basketball was where I wanted to play, what I wanted to play in college. And at that time, when I was in elementary school, there wasn't a WNBA. So my dream was a playing NBA because there wasn't a league yet for for women. And then when I got in high school, that then the WNBA started and that gave me an even clearer path. I knew I wanted to play college, but then have dreams of being a professional athlete as a young woman, and so that was pretty special, just like it is for a lot of players to get drafted and get a chance to fulfill a childhood dream of being a professional athlete. But it all started for me back home the DC area. I still have a home in Alexander, Virginia and still very close to a lot of my childhood friends, my high school friends. I'm actually going back there this weekend, so I'm there a lot. My mom is there and I have a sister that lives there as well, so it's very much home for me. Yes, so you know, you say you tried everything right. I think that's really good for kids today. So tell me how you feel about kids playing multiple sports, because I think it gives kids such an understanding of all the different aspects of what the game really is, because if you just play one sport, you don't really get to expand your skill sets. How do you feel about that? I mean, I can...

...only say what work for me, and to be involved in different types of sports really helped my overall growth and development, not just physically, because you're utilizing different muscles and utilizing different types of endurance, different types of cardio. But I didn't know all that stuff back then. I just enjoyed that. It was something new for me to have to figure out and and and stuff. When you're a basketball player, what you have to figure out and how you have to try and look to Atack the game. It's different than when you're playing soccer, and it's different than when you're playing football, and it's different than when you're playing tennis or running track, and all those things really are challenging you to think quickly, challenging you to think clear and then teaching yourself to transfer now those thoughts into a specific action for sport. So for me it was invaluable to be able to play all those different sports. It also exposes you too, different teammates and different ways that you interact with your teammates on the field, where in track, maybe I was out there by myself, and tennis I was out there by myself. When I was in soccer, I'm out there at the same time with ten other players, where it's in basketball it's only four players, whereas in football it's ten other players, but some of them I don't play with on the other side of the ball. I mean there's so many things that you learn as a young person that I mean deeper than like the how to win, how to lose right like course you look learn how to win, I lose, but even deeper than that is how to interact with with people in a competitive setting and when you're constantly changing that setting. I think it makes you just a better, all, better overall complete athlete in person. So how many times would you go to where there wasn't a coach, a parent or anybody around? Where you go to the court? You mean growing up? For me, that's what we did all the time. We went to the field of court. It was just me and my buddies or, you know, other kids from other neighborhoods, and we really learned how to, like you're talking about, deal with situations that there was no coach there handling that stuff right. You had to handle it as kids and it taught you a lot about right and wrong and all the situations how to deal with them. Now, did you have a court or a favorite place in the area where you would you go play? I was really lucky. I had had a few of them. So my next door neighbor, it's still my best friends to this day's names Johnny, and he had a court in his driveway. So when we weren't able to he had a flatter driveway. My driveway was more slanted, so we could. You know, you'd be shooting at nine feet at the top and eleven feet at the bottom, so we didn't put a hoop in my driveway, but hit driveway. He had a whoop. And so that's where we played every day, one on one, different games, you know, Horse Twenty one, whatever it was. And then we are also fortunate our neighborhood had to park and if we wanted to play with more kids we could go up to the park and play five on five or three on three half court. A lot of a lot of games there in the summer. And you know, we, Johnny and I, lived both close enough to the park that we could hear our mom's calling us if it was time for a lunch and dinner. And then, of course, thought the neighborhood rule for most households was come home when street lights come on. You're not in the house, shoot, come on, your in bigtime trouble. So right, that's where we played growing up. was just those, you know, those two chords, and that was where I spent most of my time in summer's. Obviously, when it was winter time and it was the structure of basketball, I played in elementary school gyms or wherever my league was playing, but most of the hour spent playing was on those two courts. Now, did you have a natural shot or did did you? Did somebody teach you, like, because for me it was just learning. We just went out and played and you kind of figured out your shot how you liked it. But how was that for you? Did you have somebody teach you, like hey, you got to have your elbow and you know all the all the correct ways to shoot a basketball? But for me it was, man, I just learned so much just going out and playing. Yeah, I mean I definitely had someone to help me with my shot. When I started, I shot dranny style with a kickball because I couldn't, I wasn't strong enough to...

...make it reach not the ten foot rim when I was like three, four years old, and then once I got enough strength to get the kickball up there, then I graduated to regular basketball, but I was still heavier and so once I got enough strength to do that, then I was able to graduate to like to hand push. When I'm like six out of and eight years old. I you know, I'm trying to push it up there with all my might to get up there, and I got pretty good shooting too handed, and I would say as around fifth grade, sixth grade, that I switched to the one hand that you're talking about where you're shooting like that, and that was a hard summer. That was a heart transition to do that because I had gotten pretty good with my aim and with my distance. To shoot too handed, I could shoot farther and now I'm having to change the one hand and hurt my efficiency there in the beginning. But you know know it was the best long term to learn to shoot like that. So I just kind of slowly went up. You know, back when I was growing up there weren't a ton of rims that you could lower. You know now they they play rooms that are lower so the kids can have the proper technique from right away. And you know I didn't have that. So what we did was you just figured it out. And so when I was three and four I could only make it up there with a kickball or any style. So that's how it shot, and then when I got stronger I could graduate two different things. Yeah, no, that's amazing. I think it's that's incredible that that you know a lot of kids would have, especially how far you've gone. A lot of kids go through those transitions like you talked about. It's very difficult for them and they say I'm not doing this anymore. They give up too easy. But what gave you that drive? Did you have an idol or somebody that you know besides your dad? I Know Your Dad was probably pushing you, but did you have an idol like in the NBA? I know the NBA was when you were young and then Wnba didn start later, but Jevin somebody really looked up to when you were young. I mean most people my generation is MJ right. I mean it's Michael Jordan. Growing up in the S, being able to watch him S and s watched him come of age and Chicago and then when all those championships, for sure time did you stick your tongue out when you were shooting? A Lot. I mean more when I was jumping than when I was shooting. And Yeah, just a fun time to be a young player that loves basketball watching him play. That's why I was was really cool to watch the last stance this spring, I think for a lot of sports fans, because it takes you back to how old were you when Jordan was doing these things and what you remember? And so definitely definitely a Michael Jordan fan when I was a kid. Now the WNBA is coming into fold where they're starting a whole league for women, which is an amazing thing, which it feels like it was. It was overdue. You're in high school now, you're playing the game, you're coming into your own, you're feeling like you love this game, you want to be really good. Who did you look up to in the WNBA, because you know it's growing rapidly, but when it first started probably wasn't on TV as much. You probably get to catch everything. So how did you find like? Did you watch it a lot? What was your kind of mindset of falling somebody in the WNBA? It started the year in between my sophomore and junior year of high school. I can't say that I followed it closely. I knew it was there the first year and I watched some games on TV, but I was busy with my own games and a use during the summer and that's that's when you have a having dose of AU. So I can't say that watch too many games. But the following summer, which was a summer in between my junior and senior years of high school, Washington got a team and so Washington had a team, the mystics, in the WNBA, and so that summer I did go to quite a few games because I could go and watch them in my in my own down go downtown to now call capital one. Arena was called MCI Center when at...

...first, when it first started, and so so that gave me a team to root for, a team to cheer for and chance to watch in person some of the greatest female basketball players in the world. So I would say more more so that second summer was when I got into watching it a little bit. So that's awesome. So then you're you're coming into your own, you're going to be a senior, you're getting recruited. What was the recruiting process for you, and then how did you pick Tennessee all the recruiting process is was challenging because it's a great place to be in that there's so many schools that want you to play there, at there, at their school, but it's challenging because they're all good options and it's really hard to pick just one. For me, I wanted to play for Pat Summit. Had a great connection with her. I loved how competitive she was, I loved how she challenged your players and I loved just everything about her. I wanted to be coached by the best coach in the country and and going to University of Tennessee felt like the best place for me. On a side note, I wanted to be a coach. That's what I want. I knew I wanted to do when I was done playing. So it felt like pretty good logic to me if you want to be a coach, to play for the best coach but would probably help you out in that area. And so that's that's how I chose to go to University of Tennessee. Wasn't too far, about eight hours from home in DC, so a day's drive away. So my family was still have a come watching play some of the time, but far enough a way that you kind of get that independence that I think is important when you're a young person going away to college. Right. And you talked about she challenged you. Did she challenge you on and off the court, in the classroom? How? What was she like? I mean we've all seen her competitive drive during games. I mean she is intense. She gets her players to play hard. What is she what was pat like when you were going to class and and if you were pulling the weight, what did she say to you, guys? Well, you got to look first usually, and that feel if you weren't walking her. But yeah, I mean we had standard that we were held to. I mean we had to go to every class on your schedule and you had to sit in the first three rows of that class and they would send people around the check to make sure we were in class and that we were sitting in the first three rows. How you treated people, you know, looking at them in the eye, speaking to them, clearly, respecting everybody that you come across on campus. All of those were nonnegotiables for being a part of a ladyball programs. Just what it was built on foundation of being a great member of the community, being a great member of the university, and so that was something that, you know, she taught us on and off the court. Yeah, I mean on the court there's an expectation every day of how you come to work and how you come to compete. Practices were competitive and there's a winner and there's a loser, and drills and everything was charted, and so you knew exactly where you were at the end of practice, how good a day you had. You didn't have to ask a coach or ask anybody that you go over to the managers and they have who won and who lost today in all the drills, and they have the shots that you took and how many these you make and how many did you miss? And so it just makes you accountable for every time that you're out there, every time that you're out there in practice, you know that that that it's going to be recorded and you've got to put your best foot forward. And then off the court, she was really good at honing in on what the strengths and weaknesses were were for you as a person and how she could help you grow in your weaknesses. So she challenged you off the court as well. It could be something as basic as a discipline, making sure that you're disciplined enough to be where you're...

...supposed to be when you're supposed to be there. For me, it was becoming a better communicator off the court and becoming more confident in that communication, and so there's a lot of a lot of ways that she helped me grow as a person as a player, and that's exactly why I went there, because I knew that by the time I was done I'd be totally different in terms of how I looked at life, how I approached lives and how prepared I was for life after playing, playing for her in college. Well, I mean you put on the biggest stage in college and then you also, while you were in college, am I right about this? You went on to play in some World Games as well. Is that right? And so what was that like? I mean, you're playing a college against the best. Now you're going to go and play against the best in the world. So what was that? was that really pretty nervous for that, or did did really coach some Ma get you ready for all those experiences? Yeah, I've been lucky in my life. I've always felt prepared for anything that that's been put in front of me. That doesn't mean that I've won everything, right, I mean right, you paimes, you lose games, but I've always gone into games feeling like I was prepared and I think that's a testament to my parents, is testament to the coaches that I've had. I've always felt prepared. So going playing USA basketball when I was in college, you know, I was fortunate enough to play USA basketball and when I was in high school as well. So when I got the World University Games in college, I kind of had some experience with an event that big and then, of course, playing at Tennessee great understanding of what it compete so felt pretty comfortable going over there to China and we were fortunate enough to win when Gold at the World University Games in two thousand and one great, great memory for us and a great opportunity for me to continue to grow as a player. Yere and that came out of critical time for me because I was transitioning from being a sophomore to a junior that summer and we had graduated some really good leaders, some captains on our team that had a great impact on our group and I was now making that transition that a lot of players make when you become go from being an underclassman to an upper classman. Now you got more ownership or team now your voice is more powerful. You have to be prepared to step into that and and own it, and being captain on that World University Games team kind of gave me a little practice, kind of gave me a little confidence outside of my normal bubble and and having to do that with with some new players, and I think that really helped me, going into my junior year, embrace the challenge of being a leader and being somebody that the team was going to count on every night. So when you played on that team, did you know a lot of the other players who did not know anything? Because that that is a different challenge as well. Like your teammates you've known for quite a few years, you live with them in and out every day. But now you're on a you're going to play with a lot of people you may know but you don't really know, and so to be the leader you have to get to understand them really well, just like I had to understand the ten other people in the huddle with me, and you have to understand their profiles or personalities and how to deal with all that. So I'm sure that gave you a crash course on how to do that. Yeah, I mean the good thing about the basketball family is it feels big, but it's pretty small. So the players I played with and on the USA teams I'd been playing again since I was younger or played against him in college or played again or teammates with them on earlier USA teams. Y'All kind of know one another being at that level, and so it's not like from scratch having to learn somebody new. They are some they are people that you don't generally play with every day. So on international teams it's really important to quickly learn your teammates, not just personality wise, but from a skill set standpoint, like what do they do well, where do they struggle,...

...so that you can you can put them in the best position to succeed, especially being a point guard, right. I mean that is your job on the offensive end, is is getting everyone where they need to be and making sure that they're able to have success scoring the ball. So yeah, that that definitely helped me. Help me a lot to have to do that that summer. So when you're playing in these Games, I'm sure coach summit was hard on every part of the you know, whether it was offense or defense, transition, all these things. When you're when you're over there, is it more like, Hey, we're going to score points, or is it we're going to play just like coach summit said, we're going to play everything super hard, you know, because you know when you watch some of these games that people are more into scoring, they want to put a lot of points on the board. What was that like for you to was it more about like hey, we're going to play this whole thing, the whole game, or we're going to do we're going to try and push the ball score a lot of points. Yeah, I think we were coached by Debbie Ryan, who is a coach at Uva. So, while you bring some of the competitive threads with you from Tennessee, what we were trying to achieve was basically her offense and her defense and just making sure that, as a point guard, that that's being executed when you're out on the court. Getting a chance to look at different styles and play a different style. I think that was valuable for me as well as a college player, and so when you play in those international teams, that's what it comes down to, is just trying to figure out how you can best use the talent you have to win. Yeah, no, we want to thank everyone for listening to us on Sports Circus and all of the people listening on Youtube and facebook. We're joined by Carolauson we will be right back. Hey listeners, thanks for joining David I in the huddle. We invite you to join our excuse of huddle through Patreon, where you can get access to content made just for VIPs like yourself. Head to our website. Huddle up with Gustscom and hit support our podcast on the pop up ad once again. That's huddle up with gustscom. Now let's get back in the huddle. Hey, welcome back to the sports circus. I'm your host, guests fraud. You can find me at huddle up with guestcom, on RADIOCOM or wherever do you listen to your favorite podcast. We want to thank our listeners on Youtube and facebook, and also on six thirty one digital news. We wanted to thank our listeners on Kio f ninety seven point nine, Las Vegas public radio, case a a, W DJ Y and KS I X. we're talking with Karakera. We went through your college career and all those transitions you're making. Now you're getting ready to make another transition, which is huge, which I've been there. Now you're getting drafted by Detroit, but you have an amazing story. You get drafted by Detroit and five days later you're traded. Did you know all this was happening? I didn't know that was happening on the front end of the draft, but when after I got drafted, I got in the back and you get a call from bill mber, who was the GM in the coach of Detroit, who I just drafted me, and he basically told me I was getting traded. It was going to happen soon, but he didn't tell me where. So that's my welcome to the WNBA moment. You're supposed to be all two side work. Yeah, the team is, you know, supposed to be saying on the phone. Are You thinking your head? They're going to be saying, we're so happy to have you, we can't wait, we think you're going to be a great player here. And Bill M beers like, Hey, we're not keeping you, we're trading you. So you'll be hearing from your new team soon. And so that was a few days later. I didn't know who it was, and then I ended up getting traded to Sacramento, and going to Sacramento was a great fit for me. It was a veteran team, a team that was ready to contend right away and,...

God, a chance to play with some great players out there and, God, chance to really grow as a young player and understand what what it means to win in the League at an early age. And you know, some players, all of us as players, initially can't control our path. Sometimes you see young players go to teams that are losing teams and it's tough for them to really understand what it means and what it takes to win that league and some of them pick up bad habits that they never shake. I went to a team where it was a winning team and in order to play as a rookie, I had to play the right way, I had to earn minutes the right way, and so that taught me a lot and the expectation of what it takes to win and what it means to win in the playoffs. I was getting those types of experiences my first year, second year, thirty year, fourth year in the league kind of just set the tone for me and I think prioritize the right things as a professional athlete. Was a winning and the team are the number one thing, and knowing how to win and knowing how to do that, I think is was was a great lesson and I'm thankful that that trade happened and I went to Sacramento. Yes, so do you feel like when you when you went to the professional all ranks, it was more about your teammates? Now, coaches are invaluable to kind of organizing, preparing the game plans all those types of things. But do you feel it was like the teammates the locker room that made teams great, like for you especially, like you get there, who was that leader? Was that that leader for you, like running the whole team? You know, the coaches are wonderful, but those leaders in the locker room of their ones that push you to be better and make those teams great. Did you see that kind of happening with at Sacramento? To be honest, not really, not when I first got there. It was a lot of veterans, but I would say they were super invested in the young players. I think they kind of had their eyes on job. I'm trying to win. Yeah, so you know, it's kind of get in where you fit in, depending on the team, and I'm cool with that. I mean, I've always been placed in situations where I was competitive and you had to earn their respect, and so that's what I focused on, was just earning respect of the players that I played with on the court and practice every day and and game situations. And then when you do that, they're going to embrace what you bring and they're going to value what you bring and see you like that that they need they need you as a part of the success of the team. So that's what I focused on when I became a veteran. I tried to do that with younger players, but I can't sit here and say that that was done for me when I was a young player. But I do think that if a young players fortunate enough to be in a situation where they have a veteran that does that, take advantage of it and make sure that you you exhaust all the knowledge that they have, because that cumulation of knowledge that veterans have in their respective sports so valuable and it's something that can really help young player. Yeah, I think it's so hard to is professional sports because there's no next step. Right in college there's another step. If I'm good enough, I can go play professional on high school and go to college and there's different levels. But when you're at the professional level you know those veterans can be their ten, twelve years, just like you played that long, and you know they know you're coming in to try and take their spot. So there's a really tough way to look at it as saying I'm going to give my knowledge to this young person and hopefully they help our team win and they're great, but then if they're too good, then it might take my job and then I'll be watching from the sidelines. And how did you feel going through your career with those kind of things, where you want it? Always kind of gave it up to the young players coming in,...

I think to me I never really felt threatened by bye young players. I always felt like that there are talented enough that they could help help our team and it's it would help me to and basketball is a little different, obviously than the football in that you can play the same position and play in Rasketball. Right. So we have two guards out on the court. You know, you don't have two quarterbacks. You know we have. We have two forwards out on the court. So just because someone, and then, with that said to the backup point guard always plays every game, right, because I started to play game, you play the whole game typically. So so I feel like from a positional standpoint, while there is some of that that you spoke of going on, there's this not as much in basketball because we all still get the play. Now, if you have backup point guard, do you want to start? Sure you know if you're starting point guard, you want to maintain that position and not let the backup take your job. Sure, but you both still play and you're both really important to the team and both work together to try and put the team in the best position. So I never really felt that I knew that in part of that goes back to, you know, like my dad and coach summit every day and practice was a competition and that was how I was raised and that was how I was taught in college. So I'm going to battle you every day anyways regardless. Right, that's that's the way you approach. I'm not scared of that. I'm not going to hide from that, going to embrace that and I think if you just go in with that mindset of just competing every day, then it's going to be something that's that's really good. Well, yeah, I kind of had that in football a little bit, you know, where I had other quarterbacks that wouldn't want to give you any their knowledge, and for me it was always like, I can give you all my knowledge, you still have to go out and do it on the field. It doesn't matter. So and if you're good, then we're all be better, because there's Times that you're going to have to come in and play and then or in practice. It means so much to get better every day and so but there are everybody has a different mentality right and I think your mentality is great, like, Hey, I don't doesn't matter how much you know, you still have to come on this court and beat me out or or compete with me, and I'm going to compete at at a high level. And I think that's what all the great players have done and definitely that's what you have done. So you're going through your NBA career now. You've gone through all these amazing transitions. Tell us about now going to the Olympics. What was that like for you? Well, going to the Olympics it was a dream come true for me, a chance to represent the US. As we talked about earlier. I'd played for USA basketball and high school team, I play for college team and now being a chance to represent United States on a national team. That's what you aspire to be. It's a highest level you can get to as a basketball player, higher than the WNBA, Higher Than College, higher than anything else, and to be able to go on that stage and when a gold medal is was just a great validation for me and my career. Represent my country, my family, the DC area, all of those things kind of all into one. So I was a great moment for me and for my family. Yeah, no, it seems like it would be. And I think that talk a little bit about the first game. Right you go over there, you're with your team, you're you're practicing, but it's this is the first game and you're representing your company country and you're standing on a sidelines, you're getting ready to play. You got to have some butterflies because this is different than any game you've ever played in right what you start playing, it all comes out and it's natural. But I think at first tell us about like what was going through your mind representing your country,...

...before that first game, when you're standing on the sideline with your teammates and just excitement, excitement, ready to go. Prepared. Felt like I've been. We've been preparing for a long time because we had, we have been preparing for a few years leading up to the Olympics. The Olympics is obviously a different deal than anything else because it's once every four years, like you don't get that chance and not like play next Sunday and all we get like fifteen more Sundays after that, like this is like a oneshot thing, right. And Yeah, you can feel the excitement, you can feel the pressure, you can feel the nerves and going into that first game, just really wanting to make sure that I had the game play down and that I was prepared to execute my role from for the team, and I think that's something I was really proud of in my experience with the Limp Pix. Obviously I'm proud of the gold medal, but what I'm most proud of was that I executed my role, like I did what was asked of me, and in that role I gave a team, you know, great, great value and what they needed, and I think that's, you know, that's in a in a short way, that's exactly what you should do as a team, as a teammate, right, is worry about doing your job, worrying about executing your role, and do that to the best of your ability, and I feel like I did that in the Beijing Olympics and that's probably what I feel the most proud of, more than more than the gold metal, I mean the gold me medals a symbol of that, but knowing that when your team needed you, you came through and you executed on the biggest possible stage. That's that's something that's very fulfilling as an athlete. Kara, we're going through your time in the NBA, going to the Olympics. Now you're also still playing in the Abbe. Now you're getting into broadcasting, like it's crazy how much you're doing now. Did also I would to talk a little bit about broadcasting, but we interviewed renewed Montgomery not too long ago and she was talking about how she used to go overseason play a lot in the offseason. Did you do that as well? I never played overseas. My first year out of college I got a phone call from ESPN asking me if I had what interview for a position, for an analyst position to call a couple games. It wasn't it wasn't a job offer per se. It was like, Hey, we need some help calling a couple games. We need an analyst to call a couple women's college games. Would would you come up interview? And the very least, I thought, wow, it's a free trip to Bristol. Maybe I'll get a chance to meet Stewart Scott. Might be pretty cool. So I went up there. I majored in Financing College. I didn't have a background in communications, nor really a desire, quite frankly, to be in broadcasting, but I figured it would give me a chance to at least have a have a tape of myself calling the game for posterity, and so I went up there, ended up getting the position and then work there sixteen years. Work there sixteen years. So it evolved into a couple games to a full time position, and so that's that's basically how my broadcasting career got started. Yeah, no, I was wondering how that came about because, you know, for them just to call you out of nowhere seems to me like somebody had to say like, Hey, cares a great interview, she does an amazing job with this was a coach summit. You know who that was. That said totally ESPN. You should call caret it really come up and help you out of the ESPN? No, I'm not really sure. I mean that. Tennessee, we're a high profile program and we were getting interviewed all the time, I'm you know, before our games, after our games and press conferences, and think someone at Espn just told me that they had seen me get interviewed on the court post game when I...

...was playing there and thought maybe that's something that that would translate to being a good announcer, and so that's that's kind of how it happened. So do you have a I mean when you're an announcer, when you're on ESPN and you're a broadcast, you have to have a vast knowledge of the game right the history of it currently, what's going on to do. Do you follow it that closely that you really understand all the little nuances that are going on the game, past and present? Yeah, I mean you have to be prepared for anything when you're a broadcaster. So you have to know the team's intimately. You have to know the the X's and knows. You have to know their journey, where they're coming from, their history, the coaches, where their program is right now. All of those things are important and when you look at when you look at doing a game, you can't script it. It's not scripted. That's why we all love sports has as fans, as spectators. It's you never know what's going to happen and as broadcaster you have to be prepared for that. You never know what direction the game is going to go and maybe the star player gets hurt in the first two minutes of the game and you had planned on talking about him or her for a big chunk of your broadcast and all of a sudden that's out the window. Maybe the coach gets thrown out and you had planned to talk about something about that coach and they get thrown out of the game, they get teat up. So I'd love that. I love not knowing and just being able to react to what's going on and if you're prepared, you know you're just ready to sit back and enjoy the ride. Now what did you like better? Being on ESPN and being kind of doing that, where you're in front of the cameras telling the story of what happened, or being a broadcaster where you're actually color commentating on what's going on the game? Which one did you prefer? There's nothing like being at the live at the live event, because you get to experience all those things that we experience as athletes. Right you get to feel the crowd, you get to talk to the players, talk to the coaches. So and from a broadcasting sense it's the closest to the game when you're calling a live event. But when you do that you are really only locked into your event. And so while I prefer that and I I prefer to be at the event, there is something cool about seeing all the Games and being a studio and seeing everything that's happening that day. Because maybe your game isn't done. I mean you have them, they're not over game, you're getting it done the live event and someone else has this amazing game and you miss it all, at least in real time. And so some of my great greatest memories and broadcasting what's doing the NCAA tournament and sitting there and seeing all the TV's and getting a chance to watch all of the drama unfold in front of you, whereas when you're at that game, that's that's all you see and that's all you know about what's going on. Right. So you became the first woman to ever really announce an NBA game in two thousand and seven. Tell me about that experience for you? Yeah, that experience was being at the right place at the right time. I was in Oklahoma City getting ready to call a game. Are For me read to be a sideline reporter for a game and the analyst that was supposed to call the game, had travel issues getting there and about two in the afternoon I found out I was going to be calling the game that night and ended up because I was prepared, being fine, being ready to go and because I followed the League at the time. I was also working for the Sacramento Kings doing their games, doing their studio pregame, halftime postgame shows, night in the night out in the NBA. So I had a good grasp of the League, had a good grasp of, you know, the strategies and the players.

So it's pretty pretty seamless fit for me and certainly a great opportunity. So you retired, I think, in two thousand and thirteen. Is that correct? Fifteen, two thousand and fifteen. So you retired from the WNBA, which most of us, when we retire from our professional sport, we're like, okay, what are we going to do next? You already know what you're going to do next day. Where you're you're in broadcasting. You've already built that background for yourself. Now you stay in that for a little while and then how do you get from that to where you become an assistant coach with the Celtics? I that that amazes me that that happened because I try to do that in the NFL, where I went when to go back and be a coach, and it didn't happen for me. Well, as I share with you earlier, I always wanted to be a coach. So that was always in the back of my mind and wasn't something I could pursue until I was done playing. Once I finished playing, I had that career of broadcasting. So that was very helpful because I didn't have to look for a job, I had one and I was able to make that transition in my free time because, you remember, I'd been used to working two jobs all the time. Only have one job. So had a lot of free time and in that free time I start to pursue coaching. I started with High School Players, coaching with USA basketball at three on three, start working with young women, high school players. The next year I started working with young men and young women and then also working with some g league players and working with some wnba players. So I was working maybe not publicly too much, but behind the scene means to become a better coach and to continue to grow in that area. I wasn't out there looking for jobs I didn't apply for any. It was just I was grown myself in that area and I didn't have pressure to look because I had a great media career, so I didn't have to go and jump somewhere. And then NBA team started to call me. I mean similar to the ESPN thing. For whatever reason I was fortunate in that way and be a team started calling me inquiring about me working for them. And when Boston Celtics called Brad Stevens, the head coach there, had a great conversation with him, had a great conversation with Danny Age and definitely felt like it would be a good fit for me to start my traditional coaching career, even though I've been coaching for three years internationally. And that's how the I got to the Boston Celtics and has had a great experience there. I love those guys, I love working with Brad Stevens and Danny Age and certainly rooting for root and hard for for the for the Celtics in this year's NBA playoffs. So when you're there and you're playing in such a historic when you're coaching in such a historic place, tell me about that. Like there's so much history that have gone on in a basketball court. You know, when you're on that parquet floor and you're seeing that just amazing and I couldn't imagine being a coach. You put on the you know, the the uniform and that too many great players war. And I knew you were a fan of the INN base, that you've been a little girl. So tell me about that experience for you. Yeah, there's no doubt. Every time you walk out in the garden before game and you see all those banners, seventeen of them, you see all those jerseys and you feel you feel it, you feel the energy. There's never a down game in the garden, you know. And we go to a lot of arenas across the league and you know the crowd. The crowds are different in each arena. In...

Boston, like the juice is always there, the Jews and always there are and they they you come out in two hours before the game and they're ready to go. They love the Celtics and the love for the Celtics Reaches Back Generations for these people. You know their grandparents, they're great grandparents, people that Boston's fans for years. So you feel that and they embrace you when you're one of their own and I love my time in Boston. I'm always going to be a celtics fan and always going to cheer for those guys because that fan base and that city just they love basketball and I was fortunate enough to be a part of it for a season. Yeah, that's awesome. And so duke calls you. I'm sure it's the same process. There were probably all a million colleges calling you and and saying we'd love to have you tell us. We had a couple minutes left here. Tell us all about Duke, why you chose it and you know what you expect of your girls in the season, the upcoming season. I chose Duke because it's a special place. I mean everybody knows Duke. You where you were a duke shirt, you're going to get a reaction, sometimes a good one, sometimes and I'm not so good one, but you're definitely going to get a reaction and that's because that brand is self stands for excellence. People understand that. It stands for excellence in College basketball. So to have an opportunity to coach at the same school as Mike'Schefsky, who's one of the great legends not just in basketball but in American sports history when you really think about it. I have the opportunity to coach at this great institution, is one of the best academic schools in the country. I couldn't turn that down. This is a great place to be able to help mold young women to be leaders, leaders in society. The young women that we have coming through Duke are bright, some of the brightest minds in the world, and so, as a coach, to get a chance to help them during this time in their life, it's something that is very special. Well, I am sure that every woman that is going to come through and play for you is going to be extremely excited. Duke couldn't have picked a better person to run their program and I'm sure the cameron crazies are going to be out for you this year and I look forward you going all the way and given those a girls an opportunity to win the championship. So, Kara, thank you so much. Do you have a facebook or anywhere people can follow you and find you on social media? Yeah, I'm on. I'm on twitter, instagram and facebook at Kara loss in twenty or twenty tur loss in some version of that, but dam on all the product say. Interactive with the fans, for sure. Well, we really appreciate you of joining us on a sports circus and huddle up with Gus. Kara, congratulations on getting the new job. I wish you all the best and good luck this year being the new Duke Women's head basketball coach. Everyone, thank you for listening to huddle up with gusts. We appreciate you listening to us on facebook and on Youtube. You can find me at huddle up with Guestscom and you can find us on six thirty one digital news and RADIOCOM or wherever you listen to your favorite podcast. We also appreciate everyone listening in Kio, F ninety seven point nine, Las Vegas public radio. Everyone, have a great day. Kara, thank you so much and, you know, please join us next time on the huddle up with guests. Thank you for joining David I in the huddle. We hope you enjoyed our podcast. If you'd like to hear more podcast just like this, go to huddle up with Gustscom, where you can find our social channels, subscribe to hear more by our merchandise and join our excoose of huddle through patreon. Please join us next week when we talk to more guests about how sports shape their life.

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