According to Columbia College women’s basketball coach Taylor Possail, the phrase “coach on the floor” might be overused, but also acknowledges he might have one on his team. Now, she’s trying to parlay that into a career.
Alexis Uffmann wanted to be a teacher for as long as she remember, and has also been playing basketball for much of her life. Over time, the senior guard’s thoughts crystallized into a light-bulb moment to combine the two.
“Whenever I say that a lot of my heroes in life are my past coaches, I really mean that,” Uffmann says. “With all of the hours that I spend with them, they really impact your life in a positive way. They really taught me things like responsibility, caring for others, the importance of leadership and communication, and those are the values that I want to instill in future basketball players.”
As a part of her goal of becoming a coach, Uffmann has applied to attend the “So You Want to Be a Coach” event put on by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association at the NCAA Women’s Final Four in Tampa, Florida, this April. The program assists female college basketball players who are interested in pursuing a career in coaching women’s basketball by providing professional development, education, networking and skill enhancement.
Possail is excited for the opportunity presented to Uffmann.
“When Alexis came to me and said she wanted to be a coach, it was a no-brainer to have her apply,” he says. “I feel good about her chances, just based on what she’s done with her career, what she’s done in the classroom and her involvement in other areas of her life.”
One part of Uffman’s résumé that should stick out is her status as a three-time captain for the Cougars, who opened their season 2-0 after wins over Cardinal Stritch and Missouri Valley. Columbia College enters the 2018-19 season as the favorite to repeat its American Midwest Conference title from last season, and boasts a No. 4 ranking in the preseason NAIA poll.
“I see the high ranking, and that means that someone believes in us around the country. It’s really easy to dismiss it, because at the end of the day, it doesn’t mean much; you still have to go out and play,” Possail says. “But in terms of building confidence and reaching our goals, you need to put yourself in a position like that. And I’ll admit that I’d rather see a ‘4’ by our name than nothing by our name.”
There isn’t much additional confidence Possail’s players need, given that the core of the team has been together for the last two or three years. “It's going to be one of the things I lean on this year. When you have so many veterans that just know what they’re doing, you let them go do their thing,” he says. “We put a framework out there for them, and then we let them build the house. They have a great understanding of each other.”
The luxury of having a returning nucleus is the difference between spending days, weeks or months installing an offense, and having everyone on the team understand the coach after a five-second refresher.
“We know the in’s and out’s of everyone’s game,” says Uffmann, “but at the same time, we’re all working on fixing the things that we didn’t do well last year, so we’ve really tried to focus on the idea that we’re not the same team – we’re getting better.”
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