This week, we catch up with basketball coach Mercedes. Mercedes has been playing basketball since the 4th grade. Her resume includes playing Division 1 and professional basketball overseas. Mercedes is dedicated to helping young players reach their full potential both on and off the field.
Provide a Brief Summary of your participation playing and/or coaching.
I have been playing basketball for 15 years. I graduated from La Jolla Country Day where we won 4 CIF championships and 2 state championships. I then played Division I basketball at Oregon State for four years, leading the conference in assists and free throw percentage while making the all defensive team. I went on to play professionally overseas in Israel and Poland.
What do you enjoy most about coaching?
I love the fact that I can motivate and inspire young players to not only follow their dreams but chase them. When I was in 5th grade, the WNBA had just started and my dream was to play professionally. Then the movie “Love and Basketball” came out, and I decided I was going to travel the world and play basketball. For the next 10 years I worked as hard as I could, and fortunately I reached my goal with the help of great coaches and mentors and an amazing supportive family.
What is your coaching style or philosophy?
Student athletes are my 1st priority. Basketball is #1 but education is #1A and I like to learn about each player individually and understand their needs and motivation then, teach and coach according to their aspirations. Helping athletes succeed not only on the court but, off the court in life is imperative.
Who is your favorite coach and why?
My favorite coach has been my step dad. He was the one that taught me to play in 4th grade, and he even coached me a few years in middle school. Up until college he had never missed a game of mine. If I wanted to shoot, he’d rebound for me at any time of night. Throughout my entire life, he has been my number one supporter and has always given me constructive criticism when I needed it.
What is your favorite moment in your athletic career?
One of my favorite moments in my athletic career was during my first season overseas in Israel. In college I started meditating before practices and games, but I got away from it once I went overseas. The week before a big game, my coach asked me when the last time I scored 30 points was. I told him maybe high school or earlier. He asked why, and I said I never needed to. He then told me if you are capable of being a scorer you need to score, and this team needs you to score. After being in college where my role was to lead in steals and assists, I wasn’t use to that, but I was definitely capable of being a scorer. I began my meditation, and I had my first 33 point game.
Do you have any success stories from coaching an athlete?
I was coaching at my alma mater La Jolla Country Day one summer and we had a 3 point shooter who was very good but very inconsistent. She told me she wanted to hold the 3 point record. I told her if you have a dream you have to first think about everything you need to do in order to reach it. Everyday I told her she needed to believe she was the best 3 point shooter in league. She worked on precision shooting all summer, and while I was playing overseas she contacted me and told me she had tied the record.
What other sports do you enjoy playing or practicing?
I enjoy playing football. My parents always said I was a better football player than basketball player.
What is your favorite sports related movie?
One of my favorite sports movies is “Glory Road.”
What’s your mantra or favorite saying (in the context of sports and/or life?
I am the master of my fate and the captain of my soul.
What team do you root for most enthusiastically?
The Chicago Bulls.
Do you have any special talents or a surprising thing someone might not know about you?
I write poetry, and I am in the process of writing my first fiction novel.