BUIES CREEK, N.C. – For the first time in the 33 years that head coach Wanda Watkins has led the Campbell women's basketball program, the coaching staff has the opportunity to have a limited role in summer workouts for their returning student-athletes.
In the past, the coaches were unable to observe and teach their players during strength-and-conditioning or on-court activities. Many times, the players in summer school worked out together as a group without the oversight of the basketball coaches.
"This is a very big change for our sport," said Coach Watkins. "Right now, it is hard to measure what the benefit has been, because we do not have something to compare it to. I do believe this is a positive aspect for the game."
Entering the summer, the NCAA now allows for an eight-week workout period to be planned. Returning student-athletes that are in summer school or in good academic standing with a 2.0-or-better grade-point average can attend the workouts.
"Summer access give us a chance to go into the gym enough with our players, where they are not going feel like the coaching staff is with them for 365 days during the year," said Coach Watkins. "These sessions are short and sweet, but they provide a plan for the players to work from."
Each week entails a total of eight hours that can be split up amongst strength and conditioning and on-court workouts. Only two hours per week can include a workout with a basketball.
"If we could go in the gym and practice with the ball for eight hours, then I think that would be too much," said Coach Watkins. "I really feel that it is important for the players to get a break from the coaches during the summer."
Coach Watkins believes the workouts provided an opportunity to freshen up and improve areas of emphasis prior to the preseason. It has also enabled the coaches to improve the returner's fundamentals, so that they can become the best teachers for the newcomers when they enter the program.
"To me, I feel like this is really a win-win for everybody," said Coach Watkins. "It is a win for the coaches. It is definitely a win for the players, because in the past, they would come in to our office and want us to go into the gym with them. We are now in there enough to give them some guidance and provide some things that they can continue on their own."
Eleven returners have been participated in the summer workouts and coach Watkins has noticed improvement amongst her squad.
"Our players are beginning to grow up and see that the time is now for them," said Coach Watkins. "The door is opening for them to take a great role with our team. I have seen some of these players really take it seriously and work on their weaknesses to get better. These returners are going to be making an impact on our team this year."
Summer school comes to a close on July 26, where the players will have a three-week period to work by themselves before classes begin on August 21.