The New Coach: Angie Nelp, Assistant Coach at Arizona State
As of May 2017, Coach Angie Nelp brought her extensive coaching and basketball experiences to Arizona State. Having about a month under her belt with the Sun Devils, it was great to speak with Coach Nelp about her transition for our “The New Coach” miniseries! Prior to her arrival at Arizona State, Nelp spent two years at Rice University where she helped the Owls improve dramatically over her tenure, finishing with a WBI Championship. She previously spent four years at Mercer University as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator where she recruited the two-time SoCon Player of the Year, Kahlia Lawrence.
You Landed the Job… Now What?
Learn the Language
Every program has its unique language and it’s critical to learn it as soon as possible. Coach Nelp cited that how quickly you learn the language is very much dependent on the amount of communication you’re able to engage in with your head coach. “The more you can listen to the head coach talk about the program and what’s important, the quicker you will be able to pick up on the language.” What’s also helpful is to ask about a current player that you have watched on film and simply ask how they’re planning that player’s development, the drills they want to utilize, and areas they wish they would improve.
Do Your Research Before You Hit the Road
It’s much easier to sit down at a court in July and spot the best player than it is to spot the best fit for your program! One of the best resources you have when joining a new team is film. If you’ve watched film throughout your interview process, you probably have a good idea of the style of play. Before you hit the road, Coach Nelp emphasized the importance of having those recruiting conversations to ensure you are finding what is best for your program and in particular your head coach. “It’s so important that you’re able to communicate the type of player you saw in a way that your new staff can understand. The best way to do that is to use their language.” Some strategies for communicating the type of player you saw include comparing them to a player on the team or formerly on the team. You can then go into explaining how you could see them being used in your system similarly to the way the current or former player is/was being utilized.
“There’s a fine line between bringing new, fresh, creative, ideas, and being really humble, acknowledging that there is a lot to learn.” Coach Nelp stressed that there must be a balance and it carries over into recruiting. One way to politely suggest new ideas is to ask, “What would you think about this player…I think she could bring this to the team?”
Get to Know People…It’s What We Do!
As coaches we are in the profession of developing relationships. This essential duty extends beyond recruiting and well into the athletic department and institution as a whole. Once you’ve landed your coaching gig it’s critical to meet first and foremost everyone that is involved with your team. Coach Nelp asserted that “everyone has different touch points” and that getting to know people doesn’t always need to be a formal process. For example, stopping by a nearby office and asking them if they want to join you on your coffee run is a perfectly suitable conversation starter. Otherwise, sending an email to plan out a lunch can achieve the same results! Coach Nelp also advocates that coaches must do more to reach out to people outside of athletics such as faculty advisor reps.
When it comes to meeting the players, start with the commonalities that you have, especially the game of basketball. Using the commonality of basketball is a great way to break the ice and get to know a player over rebounding or just shooting around. Beyond that, a great way to learn more about their hearts and the heart behind your new program is to ask them questions like why they like playing and why they chose the school. Hearing people’s stories is a great way to connect and build relationships that can help both sides be successful.
Carry This With You!
No matter what program you join, some expectations stay consistent. In Coach Nelp’s experience, some non-negotiables include:
- Coming eager to learn, the more eager the better
- Knowing that you have value, as indicated by them hiring you, so come prepared to add that value!
- Go in with a positive attitude every single day
- “What can I do to help?” Goes a long way!