The Off Season: Nicole Burford – Oakland University


Nicole Burford, Assistant Coach/Recruiting Coordinator Oakland University

Coach Burford is currently serving as an assistant coach and as the Recruiting Coordinator at Oakland University. Prior to her time at Oakland she has served as the head coach at Olivet College where she led her squad to four consecutive Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) Tournament semifinals. She has the most wins in program history at Olivet and in 2013-14, Burford guided the Comets to a 22-4 overall record setting a single-season school record for wins including a ­­2nd place MIAA finish with a program best 14-2 mark. Also that season, Olivet was ranked 18th and 19th in Top 25 poll for the 1st time in school history.

Summer Workout Programs

 Everyone that plays basketball has one player that they want to be like. Whether your icon is Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, or Kobe Bryant we love these players for the final product that they became. While the final product is what we love we need to remember that there was a strenuous process that it took for them to become the final product we love.  Let’s compare the process to making a perfect wedding cake.  A wedding cake is very pretty and will forever be talked about. But, when you think about the finished wedding cake also think about how long it took to make it look like that. The process of improving your game as a basketball player isn’t much different.  The start of being a good player comes from what you do behind closed doors during the process of creating.


To create the best team they can Coach Burford and the entire Oakland staff put in the work to have a great finished product. “We meet as a staff to develop our focus for spring workouts and will discuss with each one of our athletes some key things they need to work on over the spring and summer along with their personal goals for the next season.” Burford indicated that this is one of the first things they do before giving the athletes their summer programs to get better. “So during the spring, we are already working with them on specific things they can then themselves continue to work on the rest of the spring and over that first part of the summer when they are not on campus.” This is the perfect recipe to get your team on the right track while they are away during the summer.

Professional Development

When you invest in something that can help you grow as an individual you are showing progress towards success. As a Coach you have to find something that can motivate and push your purpose. “I like to try to pick a book to read on motivation or leadership. Just something that puts life back into perspective. Right now I am reading Craig Sager’s book Living Out Loud: Sports, Cancer, and The Things Worth Fighting For.”  Coach Burford shapes her success by finding ways to improve not just as a coach but as a person. She also said “I try to talk to my mentors and converse about many topics. Also getting out to different clinics to learn strategies that can help our program is helpful as well.”

Personal Recharge

As coaches we see a lot of late nights, early mornings, and exhausting days. It is important in the offseason to rest and recharge your batteries from the past season. This can help you refocus on the upcoming season and renew your mind, body, and soul. For Coach Burford that comes from her family. “Family absolutely makes me happy and relaxed. I love every chance I get to see my nieces and nephew. The time spent with them always helps me appreciate the little things and decompress a little.”

 Welcome Back Athletes – On and Off the Court  

Off the Court: Off the court activities matter just as much as your on-court work. Our main purpose in coaching is to help develop young athletes as complete people. “We hold culture meetings every Sunday evening in the summer when our players return to campus. We will read a book together and discuss the topic at hand and how it relates to us personally, within our team, families, communities, etc… Our program takes pride in leadership and development beyond the court.” This statement by Coach Burford sets the tone and clearly shows how they care about the development of their student athletes as whole people. This is a great way to create our future leaders.

 On the Court: With so little time to prepare before the school year starts, you have to take every opportunity you can to improve over the summer. “We try to maximize all the time we have to work with our athletes. When they return in July we’ll use our allotted time with them and they will also continue to utilize their workouts that were given as well as anything else they plan on their own, typically playing pickup with each other.”  Burford stated this was a huge must for their team to be successful in the off season.

Guest Writer: Jordan McCann

Assistant Coach Colorado College

coachjI always trust in the process and believe that success is a habit and not a goal. Originally from the south side of Chicago. I received undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois and served as a practice player for the women’s basketball program. I have been coaching basketball for 5 years. The opportunity to coach women’s basketball has been my dream for years. I am very blessed to help young women succeed on and off the court.




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