Before a minute of basketball had been played, VCU women’s basketball coaching staff and department drew up the greatest play they could for their female student-athletes: a program called Hoops to Heels. It’s designed to help the team win at the game called life, long after their playing days at the Verizon Wireless Siegel Center expire.
Hoops to Heels stems from head coach Beth O’Boyle and her staff’s desire to invest in their player’s development on and off the court. The name of the program reflects the business attire that may be required of the female athletes post-graduation. It was implemented to help with the transitioning process. Assistant coach Kate DeSorrento is heavily involved in the program and said the direction is a group effort from the coaching staff to brainstorm ideas for the future.
On Aug. 23, DeSorrento administered the first of a series of monthly seminars. Held in the Barkley Lounge film room, the life-skills curriculum, as DeSorrento called it, first had the young basketball team focus on managing their personal finances.
“They went over how to make a budget, their income, their expenses and learning things like how to use credit cards responsibly and what their credit scores means,” DeSorrento said.
Redshirt sophomore guard Chadarryl Clay said the money-management seminar helped her grasp a better understanding about her personal finances, which she didn’t understand as a freshman.
“Spending money-wise, we kind of went crazy and now that the coaches have brought that to our attention, you could actually use this money when you get out of college,” Clay said. “Instead of coming out of college in debt or with zero dollars in your bank account, you can actually walk out of college with money, which can benefit you.”
For a team that is made of mostly freshmen and sophomores, DeSorrento said she feels preparing them for life after basketball first starts with making the players comfortable with themselves and their surroundings. She feels the next important aspect is preparation. In future training seminars, DeSorrento said she feels some of the other areas the coaching staff will work on with players is how to prepare for interviews and practice appropriate dress codes. The team will also incorporate an etiquette dinner, which is something that she said VCU has done in years past. Other areas of concern include: mock post-game interviews, interactions with professors and bosses, as well as social media training.
“The goal is that after they all leave here, they have enough money saved to get themselves a nice place to live, to get the transportation they need, to get a professional wardrobe, that’s how we want them to be thinking right now,” DeSorrento said. “We’ll do installments throughout the year and people from our staff and from the department will be involved in those and hopefully the kids feel like they get something out of it.”
The next installment is expected to take place later this month and the focus will be on body language. O’Boyle said that different assistant coaches will present different topics monthly.
“We want them to learn while they are in college so when they graduate and they have to wear heels and go in the real world they have that experience,” O’Boyle said.
The team is not ready to trade in their sneakers for heels quite yet, but Clay said she and her teammates are excited for the start of the new season. Women’s hoops tips off Friday, Nov. 14 in a home game against Wagner College.
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