Sammi Goldsmith is in her second year as a graduate assistant for the Virginia Tech women’s basketball staff. A 2016 Lynchburg College graduate, Goldsmith earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and played point guard for the women’s basketball team. In her final season, Goldsmith served as captain and led her team to their first ever Conference Regular-Season Championship, Conference Tournament Championship, and NCAA berth. She also holds the program’s all-time assist record with 504 assists. Following her senior season, Goldsmith was selected to participate in the WBCA’s ‘So You Want to Be a Coach’ Program. She is currently in her final semester at Virginia Tech, earning her Masters of Arts in Education in Curriculum and Instruction. Goldsmith also runs her own wellness blog called “Sam’s Fit Life,” where she posts healthy recipes and fitness tips.
It’s All About Preparation
Just like playing in a basketball game, becoming a Graduate Assistant takes a lot of preparation. Have you ever heard of the saying, “You can’t just show up and expect to win?” It works the same way with getting a coaching job. You can’t just expect to get one because you played at the collegiate level. This is why building my resume was one of my top priorities during my undergraduate career. I worked camps at Duke, Lynchburg College (my alma mater), and various high schools during my summer breaks. Not only were these camps great learning opportunities and resume builders, they were also networking opportunities. I met a lot of coaches who were very willing to offer me advice.
Many of the coaches I met throughout my college career gave me the same advice: Apply for the WBCA’s ‘So You Want to Be a Coach’ Program. With the help of my college coach, I applied to be a part of the program in 2016 and was accepted. This program helped me grow as a person and a coach. I met so many aspiring female coaches that I now call my ‘So Sisters.’ We have a group chat where we ask each other questions and offer advice. We also count down the days until the next Final Four so we can reunite! Below are some of my favorite pieces of advice from speakers at the program.
Being a graduate assistant is all about being ready to do anything you can to help whenever it is needed. When I first talked to the Director of Operations at Virginia Tech, he told me they were looking for a GA that can be a “jack of all trades.” I remember thinking that it would be awesome to be able to learn something about everything.
- I am in charge of the managers. I help hire new managers and make sure they know how to set up for practice, games, travel, etc.
- Tip: Use this as a leadership opportunity. Whatever they do reflects on you! Take pride in this position.
- I help with travel logistics. My main duty when we travel is organizing our post-game meal.
- Organize community service events
- Maintain the list of current recruits and send mailouts
- Assist with on-campus visits
- Last year I helped our post coach with individuals and during position work at practice. This year I work more with the guards. Working with both during my time as a GA has helped me learn a lot of different drills and coaching techniques.
- Tip: Write down all of the drills you learn from individuals and practice! Start compiling a notebook of plays, drills, scouts, practice plans, and anything else you think would help you down the road.
Tips for Making the Most of Your GA Experience:
- Be ORGANIZED! This is crucial in all aspects of your life. Purchase a good planner and make it your best friend. Write down every important date from homework assignment due-dates to practice times. (You can use your cell phone calendar too – I just prefer putting pen to paper. )
- Be AVAILABLE! One thing I learned during my first year as a GA is that I need to be ready to go at all times. Let the coaches and support staff know that you are willing to help with all sorts of projects.
- Keep in touch with the people who helped you get to where you are today. Consistently thank them and reach out for advice.
- Tip: After the 2017 Final Four, I started an excel spreadsheet that includes all of the contact information for people I’ve met through coaching. Keeping it all in one place helps me access and update it with ease.
- Don’t forget to take care of yourself. I became interested in health and fitness during college because my dad suffered a heart attack. The transition from being an athlete in college to coaching and completing my masters was a tough one when it came to time-management. I learned that intrinsic motivation is key. Make sure to set out time to work out and cook healthy meals. Wake up early and take advantage of the hotel fitness centers when you’re on the road!
Last but definitely not least, APPRECIATE EVERYTHING.
Being a GA truly humbled me. I immediately saw that coaching is not a job, it is a lifestyle.
You have to be in it for the right reasons. As a player, everything is catered to you no matter what level. I learned that coaching staffs are in the office more than I ever realized. They are constantly watching film, on the road recruiting, and brainstorming ways to grow their program. As a former player, their immense work ethic made me appreciate all of the coaches I played for even more. As a GA, this inspires me daily to work hard and grow young women into great players and even better people.
Best Advice I’ve Received:
“Don’t ever be too big to get down and dirty.”
-Kacie Cryer, Head Coach of McNeese State women’s basketball, is a part of my WBCA Mentor to Mentor group and she gave me this advice during our first conference call. Whether I’m wiping the basketballs clean, getting under the bus to load our suitcases, or carrying six different meal orders for our staff back from the dining hall; I know what I am doing is helping our program continue to move in the right direction because little things make the big things happen!