Butterflies danced in my stomach the day I received the letter, awarding me a coaching spot in Geno Auriemma’s Summer Basketball Camp.
The selection to participate was an unanticipated honor for me as a 28-year-old coach, who just finished his first season as the head basketball coach at the high school where I taught.
In the weeks leading up to my flight, I found myself searching for excuses not to fly from Nebraska to Connecticut. Sure, it was a great opportunity for a young coach, but I had a fear of flying, and paired with self-doubt, I almost convinced myself not to go.
I was the first camp coach to arrive in Storrs that day. There was no welcome party. Instead, I walked around the beautiful campus by myself and waited for additional coaches to arrive.
By late afternoon the others had arrived. Suddenly, I found myself in a room full of college coaches brought in to help with camp. It was obvious that they were returning from the previous summer. They were confident and knew the drill.
Before long, we were all led to a fieldhouse where we were given camp rosters and were asked to watch our predetermined teams and others scrimmage. There would be a pizza party for the coaches afterwards where we could then swap players to help balance teams so that every group would be competitive during the week.
This is when I first met Diana Taurasi.
Diana immediately made an impression on me. She was bubbly, spirited, and her voice commanded the room. Her presence felt larger than life. Diana had just finished her sophomore season, winning the first of three straight national championships with her team.
I stood alone in a corner, chewing on a slice of pizza, reviewing my team roster.
Diana made her way over to me and introduced herself.