Assistant coaches Natatlie Cooley and Conni Holloway are two former Solano players who are instrumental in advising this year’s Solano players on a variety of issues. Whether they are confided in to talk about basketball or personal matters, the Falcons know they can turn to Natalie and Conni at any time.
Natalie and Conni took some time to talk to us about what it means to be an assistant coach as a former player.
Being a coach and a former player means a lot to me because players and coaches put in a lot of hard work and dedication. Being a player at Solano meant a lot to me, because you work your butt off during practice and games. When you win games and a championship you feel good about it and all the sacrifice that went into winning. You also develop relationships with teammates and the coaches that will never be forgotten.
As a coach you sacrifice more family time and me time for the sake of the players and the program. It may go unnoticed but it still feels rewarding to know that what you are doing pays off when you win games and a championship.
As a mother, wife, student, coach and friend, life becomes tangled and sometimes you have to sacrifice one thing for the next and you have to sit back and wonder, “Did I make the best decision?” Not only for me but for the people that surround your life.
Winning a championship means more than a banner, it means that “EVERY SACRIFICE, EVERY PRACTICE, EVERY LONG RIDE IN THE VANS, EVERYTIME YOU’RE GONE FROM HOME MEANT SOMETHING.” Now I can show my daughters what we accomplished together.
I tell the players all the time that it all starts at practice, once you have fully understood that, then you’re prepared for every game. I text them about things they need to improve or just words of encouragement. At the end of the day they are young ladies of the game and what they go through in life matters whether we win or lose.
This was my first year in probably 10 years that I have not played basketball. At first, the transition of coaching from playing was hard. When Coach Matt first said “on the line,” I wanted to run to the line! There are days it’s hard to watch the girls compete in such great practice drills and not be part of it. However, after a few months I began to realize the benefit of coaching- connecting with the girls.
My favorite part about coaching is advising a player about a move or technique or expectation and the player reacts with such eagerness to learn! I love when players say, “Hey Coach Nat can you watch me for a minute? Can you tell me if I’m doing this correctly?” I love to help those who want to learn and their attitude makes coaching so rewarding!
Being a Solano basketball player reflects so much of who you are as a person. As the season ends, practice and games may end and sophomores may leave, but what you learn from Coach Matt and the Solano program lasts forever. You learn that discipline, dedication, hard work and friendship never end and in order to be successful you must continue with what you learned at Solano. Every player who comes out of the Solano program becomes a better person whether physically, mentally or academically. I hope the girls understand the great accomplishment they all have gone through by getting through another successful year of Solano basketball. I hope when the year ends they will be proud that they got through a program that many cannot handle and what that means about their character and about their future.