Brooklyn Taylor: Graduate Assistant at Mercer University

Brooklyn Taylor is a native of Greenville, PA. She was a member of the DI women’s basketball team at Saint Francis University (PA) in the Northeast Conference. During her senior year she was selected to be a part of the “So You Want To Be a Coach” Program at the Final Four in 2016. Through this program she was able to interview for the position she now holds, which is Graduate Assistant for the women’s basketball program at Mercer University.

During her junior year, she suffered a knee injury that kept her from playing basketball competitively again. She used her “early retirement” as a way to study more film with her coaches and to help her DOBO on road trips, which prepared her for her current role as a graduate assistant.

What Does Being a GA Entail?

There is not a video coordinator here at Mercer University, so we are responsible for all DVD burning, synergy uploading, creating edits and troubleshooting! We also make sure everything behind the scenes stays behind the scenes. If things stay unnoticed…that’s a good thing! We also are essentially “assistants to the assistants” helping with the day to day responsibilities wherever needed. Sometimes it can be stressful being the person that 4+ people delegate to, so managing your time and priorities are critical.

Because we have two GA’s, in my second year now the responsibilities have definitely gotten amped up. Because the two GA’s and the DOBO work closely together, as the lone returner of the support team, I make it my job to prevent anything from falling through the cracks. Another challenge of being the “veteran” is delegation. Sometimes I feel like I can just do things easier myself rather than explaining and relying on another person to get the job done. However, in order to keep myself sharp and not go insane…delegation is key!

Overseeing Managers

A common responsibility of GA’s is to oversee the team managers. Here are some quick tips to help you be successful:

  • Don’t assume – always better to over communicate. Review, and then remind.
  • Never hurts to double check – if it’s early on in the season and a manager was supposed to set up the gym for practice, doesn’t hurt to do a quick walk through yourself to ensure things weren’t missed.
  • Use this position as an opportunity to learn how to lead – Be a Head Coach to them! Care about them, get to know them, and handle tough conversations with them when needed.

How To Make The Most Of This Opportunity

  • Plan!!!! Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance! Be organized and get things done on time!
  • Step away from work every now and again…Get involved in something outside of the university! I recently got involved with a small group at a local church, and interacting with people outside of the athletic department has been a great way to recharge.
  • Remember why you are in coaching. Sometimes it gets challenging not being able to actually coach, but take each day as a lesson and store it away for when you are in that position of your dreams!

Outside Development Matters

I feel that between the random assignments and the behind the scenes work, I sometimes forget to keep “Growing My Game.” Last year I started a drill binder to give me some basketball development time.

  • I find new drills and write them down on notecards (including the logistics of time, goal, # of basketballs, etc.) and then organize them by category in a small binder. On the back of the cards, players can sign and date it when they’ve set a new record for the drill, to give future players a goal to beat. When I’ve completed my graduate assistantship and I do get the chance to actually run individuals (hopefully next year), I’ll have a decent amount of drills to pull from!

Last spring I went to the Head Coach Training Center. (Hint: They offer a scholarship for either undergraduate or graduate students that are aspiring to be coaches!) It was a great networking opportunity. They had a variety of speakers ranging from D3 Athletic Directors to SEC Head Coaches. I chose to attend this conference because although it is early in my career path, it was filled with assistants who eventually want to become head coaches. Brian Stanchak, founder of the conference and agent, was awesome and helped facilitate conversation between some of his clients and me.

  • It can be intimidating as a GA to enter a conference filled with veteran coaches – many of them have their “groups” already to trying to start up a conversation can be challenging. I began by finding a group of younger assistants to start talking with and went from there. You might have to dig deep to find a common connection at first, but it’s worth it to start up a conversation.

Follow Brooklyn on Twitter @BrooklynRTaylor



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