Inspire. Empower. Serve.
Those are the words that Orlando native, Erin Horne lives by as she pursues her young coaching career.
Entering her first year as a graduate assistant, Erin Horne joined the Mercer Bears Women’s Basketball staff in August 2017, where she has already found her niche with the Bears. Prior to joining the Bears staff, Horne earned a B.A. in Business Sports Management from Converse College (SC) while also becoming the all-time steals record holder for the Valkyrie Women’s Basketball program.
How To Prepare for a GA Position
The most important thing I think you can do to prepare yourself for any position is to diversify your skill set no matter what career path you may choose. For me, I took part in a variety of different opportunities both on the college and professional level, which provided me with very beneficial hands-on experiences in management as well as for coaching.
Following my senior season, I was selected to take part in the WBCA 15th Annual “So You Want To Be A Coach” program which took place in conjunction with the WBCA Convention in Dallas during the Final Four. It was through this program that I was interviewed for the position at Mercer University.
During my senior year, I completed and internship with the Athletic Department at Converse College. While working within the athletic department, this allowed me the opportunity to witness the many aspects that go into running an athletic program including:
- Budget management
- Game day preparation
- Social Media
To top that very insightful experience, in the summer of 2016, I had the opportunity to work on the professional level as I completed an internship with the WNBA Atlanta Dream. With the WNBA Atlanta Dream, I preformed Basketball Operations and Game Operations.
With my passion for people and basketball, my experiences throughout my college years has also included working countless camps as a camp coach/counselor including at Stanford University with the Women’s Basketball team to assisting the Orlando Magic Pro-Am in Orlando.
Tips for Making The Most of Your GA Experience
Find Your Niche
Figure out what you’re really good at and what you really love to do and do that VERY WELL!
For me, I found my niche early by taking full advantage of any opportunity to work with the team. This ranged from lacing up my basketball shoes and jumping in whenever needed in practice to using my experiences as a ball handler to assist with workouts and really work with guards in keeping the ball on a string! I have been very fortunate in that I have had very good trainers in the past that have helped me develop the knowledg
e and skills to pay it forward to others. Having this hands-on experience at Mercer has allowed me to use my love for the game as a leadership tool in efforts to impact, guide and serve.
Be a Sponge
Being in the shoes of a graduate assistant just might be the best position to kick-start your coaching career. To me, being a sponge means not just taking in everything that you are doing but what everyone else around you is doing and enjoying the process. As a former college basketball player, over the years, you think you know it all and sometimes fail to realize all the small details occurring behind the scenes that go into making your program a success. As a GA, you are exposed to the ins and outs of your program, and get to see first hand how things are ran from the bottom up!
Within the endless hours of working as a graduate student and graduate assistant, while also absorbing any opportunity to gain knowledge from those around you, is where you grow and really learn about yourself, which helps direct you towards your next steps in your career.
At Mercer, we are very fortunate to have two graduate assistants, which has allowed us to work efficiently and effectively while also learning from each other and growing. With just three months under my belt, I have been responsible for creating a lot of unique recruiting mail-outs, marketing flyers, coaches’ quotes and player quotes. I have also assisted with film, preparing scouting reports/ player personnel, creating highlight videos and producing projects for Coach Gardner through using software such as Synergy Sports Technology. Another major responsibility, which just might be the most important task and can be hard to define, is being available at all times to do what ever is asked of me to do. In the end, it is not just the major responsibilities that we have as GA’s but the “little things” that make the big things happen.
Biggest Takeaway of Being on a Coaching Staff
It may sound cliche but it really takes the whole unit to be successful! From head coach Susie Gardner to our three assistant coaches, director of player development, strength and conditioning coach, athletic trainer, GA’s, managers, practice guys and the entire Mercer athletic department, everyone must be on the same page, share the same vision, have a sickening work ethic to accomplish the common goal of the Mercer Bears.