Hockey Talk

A Winning Mindset

Cheryl Reeve, Basketball Coach [NBAE/Getty Images]
Cheryl Reeve [NBAE/Getty Images]

Two all-time leading coaches in Ice Hockey and Basketball respectively; Shannon Miller and Cheryl Reeve discuss the different aspects of being a successful coach and share much common ground between their respective sports

Hockey Talk, sponsored by ugo Wear is presented by Shannon Miller

Podcast length: 43′ 44″

On this week’s episode Coach Shannon Miller talks to General Manager and Head Coach of the WNBA MN Lynx, Cheryl Reeve and their topics are dreaming big, team culture, accountability, trusting in the process and what it takes to win. This week’s drill of the week will be a versatile drill that you can use early in practice to warm up the goal tenders and skaters, and a drill that you can use on game days during game skate – this drill will be posted on Shannon’s Facebook page @coachshannonmiller on Thursday March 14.

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The Drill of the Week is on Shannon’s Facebook page @coachshannonmiller 

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Transcript (computer generated/unedited)

[00:00:47] My guest is a General Manager and Head Coach of the WNBA Minnesota Lynx Cheryl Reeve. In today’s episode we’re going to talk about dreaming big team culture accountability trusting in the process and what it takes to win. This week’s drill of the week. It’s going to be a versatile drill a drill that you could use any day and practice early and practice to warm up the skaters as well as the goaltenders. And you could use a stroll on game day in the mornings during your game skate the stroll will be posted on my Facebook page at coach Shannon Miller on Thursday. Thank you for joining me. I’m honored to have my own hockey podcast show on WiSP Sports. And to be part of the most popular and influential podcast Organization for Women in Sports globally. Today’s podcast is titled A winning mindset. Welcome general manager and head coach of the NBA Minnesota Lynx Cheryl Reeve has the highest win percentage in NBA history has coached the Lynx to four league championships. The Lynx won the NBA title in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017. Welcome General Manager and Head Coach Cheryl Reeve.

[00:02:01] Thanks Shannon. Appreciate you having me on well it’s going to be fine. It is indeed coach to coach right coach to coach. This is my these are my favorite shows and this is going to be fun.

[00:02:13] So Coach Reeve you were just in the know you are in the newest Nike commercial dream crazier. I love your part in the commercial. I talked about it on my last podcast shell. How did that come about you to actually be in the commercial. And what does that mean to you.

[00:02:29] Believe it or not I think the bulk of the work on the commercial was complete when I when I received a message from a representative from Nike that said hey you know I take a look at this you’re you know you’re going to be in a commercial.

[00:02:42] Let us know if you’re okay with it. So I said OK.

[00:02:46] And I thought well you know what the heck roll Mike into play in the commercial and so I began watching the the the link that was that was sent and you know the beginning of it I thought oh wow this is really cool and I kept thinking in my head What role am I going to play.

[00:03:00] And then it got to that part and I was like ah ok see the role playing in this. And so I you know I had that initial thought of you know of course you know appearing in a Nike commercial.

[00:03:14] You know that’s that’s you know unbelievable and I think that’s great there including the NBA and then I thought that moment I history I really want to get out there and get the message around it was so powerful and I thought you know OK what a great repurposing of that moment in 2012 and the Topia NBA finals when all hell broke loose in our series with the Indiana and you know we end up the reason for that message.

[00:03:41] You know I think there were many people that mostly women that understood it you know because we’ve been called a number of things when we’ve had a heated moment or an emotional moment and those things are used against women to hold us down. And so I thought it was just terrific for Nike to put us in the slide and put you know society on blast and many of the men that cheer with me when they watch it they said I didn’t get it that first. And I just inside I was trying to be respectful. But inside I just giggled and I thought well that’s the idea of the commercial it’s because you don’t get it that you know these are these are things that are that are said about women.

[00:04:19] And you know I loved it when this happened I said Well you know what for 48 hours after that occurred we appeared on CNN multiple ESPN shows and it was being debated about what to call it and so that was obviously the need for the commercial and I thought wow what a powerful message. Let’s go ahead and do it.

[00:04:41] Oh I love it. I absolutely love it and a coach on my podcast shows just so you know I’ve talked a lot about gender bias and how when women have that focused energy intensity that passion. One worker had the drive for me get hold crazy and angry and all those things. And so my listeners know this conversation all too well. And I love your part in that graduation. So 2012 you’re under the microscope for today you’re being celebrated for it. I love it.

[00:05:09] That’s right. I do. I do too and that’s why I said it’s just tremendous Nike’s really taking the lead on some of these major issues. You know first it was Colin Kaepernick and then you know this this huge commercial that aired in the Oscars it was just incredible.

[00:05:22] Yeah exactly. It debuted in the Oscars. Supercool so Katrina I just recently saw you on CNN. It was great because I knew you were coming up as a guest on my show so I turned it up when I saw you on there and it was an interview about not being invited to the White House after reading your last championship. I felt you handled that interview very well. And just so you know after our team won five division 1 National Championships each time we were honored at the White House by the president of the United States and each time we went. And obviously it’s a real honor. So many people listening today may not have seen your interview on CNN. Tell us about that conversation please.

[00:06:00] Well you know I think this obviously occurred in 2017. So we’re a little bit far removed from it. So I was a little surprised when CNN reached out and said Would you do an interview about this. But what had happened was the White House had just honored a Wandle a football champion which had not been honored I think since the early 80s. And I’m not against any champion being honored at the White House. It’s really more about the pattern of exclusion from the White House in terms of celebrating championships there’s not been a women’s team that’s made a solo visit to the White House since this current president took office. And so there was a big article big story written in the Washington Post about this and I think CNN you know just kind of you know what was taken you know a little back on on that story and invited me to be on one to talk about it. And you know it was pretty simple. What I told them was that you know in each of our other championship years in 2011 13 and 15 we received a call from the president. You know that’s that’s typically what you are accustomed to. Not every sport. I get it you know but we were very very fortunate that President Obama supported the NBA. He has two daughters. You know he kind of saw the value in that. And so you know we would win and our PR teams would set up a call and you know so the players that were in town would huddle around and we’d have a quick conversation with the president. He would congratulate us. Talk about the championship series that was a really cool thing about him is he actually watched it. So he knew the journey of the championship. And then he would invite us for the visit and we always you know obviously we always accepted the invitation and found time within our season because it would happen the following summer and it was all you know he was always so gracious and so knowledgeable and so supportive of women in sport. So it was a really tremendous experience for us.

[00:07:45] Absolutely. And I’m so glad that CNN was shining the light on it even if they were piggybacking off another media article because it is a conversation that needs to be had. I was happy and appreciative that they had you on there and if you did a really good job. So thank you for that. Well I appreciate that. So also coach Reeve you just returned from watching some conference basketball tournaments. Share with us where you were who you were watching and a little bit about your trip if you would.

[00:08:12] I was down in Greenville South Carolina for the SCC championship and so our staff you know we split up and you know we cover different conference tournaments. Mine was the. And you know SCC is just tremendous basketball most of the tournaments that we go to these days. Basketball is come such a long way you know in terms of the development and so I was down to see where Mississippi state South Carolina where the top two seeds. And you know for those two days that I was there you watched eight basketball games.

[00:08:42] You know that’s you know that’s something that you know that’s that’s a challenge you got to be really ready for that you know.

[00:08:49] So it was it was you know it’s fun time of year to watch upsets in Arkansas was the team in theU.S. that was but was pulling upsets knocked off South Carolina who was essentially playing at home had a tremendous crowd there and an Arkansas lead pretty much the whole game and ended up upsetting South Carolina and went on to the championship game and lost pretty big to Mississippi State.

[00:09:09] So for me who I’m watching you know there’s a number of prospects and I’ve told you know for a number of people it’s not a secret you know there’s there’s eight or nine players we’re picking number 6.

[00:09:19] And so I listed eight or nine players and said we’re going to be taking one of these players.

[00:09:23] The FCC has Mississippi State who has Tara McCown who has a 6 8 center. That will be one of the top prospects in our draft and real Howard is a player who transferred fromA.I.M. to Mississippi State and is a big reason why they continue to be successful in their first SCC championship.

[00:09:40] So unreal. Howard is another player we were evaluating. I would not put her among the top eight or nine that we would be selecting from.

[00:09:47] But we also have picked 16 18 and 20 where we think that you know if it’s if she’s still available in that area she might be a valued pick let’s see who else.

[00:09:58] South Carolina has a prospect and there’s also some young prospects in South Carolina so Cassiel österreich watch Tennessee you know Tennessee won their first game which was really important to their NCAA Tournament hopes. They have a senior prospect.

[00:10:15] So that will that will be hail that will be something that will be a difficult decision for the committee. I think you know to leave out you know Tennessee who historically obviously has been you know in every NCAA tournament so but you’ve got to win and you’ve got it you’ve got to have the resume. And I’m not saying that they do or they don’t but it’s going to be a tough tough decision for the committee.

[00:10:35] You know you see you know the nostalgia of of Tennessee. So you know I you know I can’t say that you know that these were the ICC has the top prospects. But for us it was really valuable just to kind of complete our evaluation because of the number of picks that we have.

[00:10:55] And yeah it was you know my day Greenville’s a great city. I was anxious to get away from the snowy snowy times we’re having in cold times we’re having here in Minnesota so I picked the south. So I said let me go south. And so you know it was actually kind of. It was chilly there it was in the 40s and 50s and rainy so it wasn’t necessary.

[00:11:17] I was I was seeking nothing I would have a lot of time because you know you wake up and you know kind of get your notes together for the day and first games at noon and you know following that the second game there is about an hour break. And we started again at 6:00 and you know finishing with a game that started you know usually after 8:00 o’clock. So and then you wake up do it all again the next day. So I typically like to eat Shannon in whatever town I go to. That’s one of my favorite things to do is to know what the locals are doing. And so I only was able to find a small Caribbean joint on one of the breaks and I’m glad I was able to do that.

[00:11:55] Well it’s always fun to hear about what other people are doing on their recruiting trips and it sounds like fun. But I also know it’s a lot of work which you’re obviously portraying in this conversation and it is there long days and into the night but they are fine. There’s some camaraderie involved and you’re getting to watch some of the best players in the game. So that’s pretty awesome that you shared that with us. Now. Coach Riv I just want you to know this. So you mentioned Kay Minnesota cold right now and as you know I lived in Minnesota for 16 years. And then you went south.

[00:12:26] So it was a lot warmer where you went but I wanted to know this in my next lifetime when I come back I want to be a basketball coach and not a hockey coach.

[00:12:36] Yeah is it a little bit little bit warmer.

[00:12:40] Yeah I used to laugh all the time because I lived in Duluth. And of course it was very cold and that I would go to the hockey rink and my office was in a hockey rink. And then of course when I went to practice for games I’m at a hockey rink and I used to think all the time why didn’t I play basketball. Why didn’t I go to basketball. So that’s what I want to do in my next life.

[00:12:59] Well I moved to Minnesota as you know and I’ve lived here. I’m going on ten years and that was one of the coolest things. I thought oh this is fun go into watch hockey.

[00:13:10] And then after a while it was really cold going to watch hockey.

[00:13:14] I have a 4 year old that I’m racing here in Minnesota. So there is no doubt that at some point he will be playing hockey and I’m excited for that piece. I love the game hockey but I’m not necessarily looking for those moments of of being a bit chilly.

[00:13:28] Watching my son play yeah you’ll become an avid hockey or an avid chocolate milk chocolate hot chocolate drinker or coffee at these hockey games or practices. Yeah that’s right. So Coach reave obviously as one of the winningest coaches in the NBA someone you’re seen as a leader in women’s sports. You just seen as a leader period and in the United States and in women’s sports globally March’s Women’s History Month International Women’s Day was just Friday. What does that mean to you.

[00:13:58] Gosh it means so much. You know I think about my path and I know and you could probably do this as well. And you know historically when you think about when you started who the people who the players were not meeting actual players but in your life who the players were that sort of guided to and maybe gave you advice sometimes good advice sometimes not so good advice.

[00:14:18] But you learn in both situations and I think for me that’s what I think about how how lucky I was to have a strong powerful mom that I that I still have who is very strong willed and you know sort of the competitive side I think comes from her. You know that I have the competitive gene and you know when I think about my high school coach who was was gracious enough to invest in me and counsel me and talked to me about you know what was next. You know as I graduated from high school and identified you know I was actually a you know the typical three sport athlete you know that most of us you know were when we were playing I actually enjoy the game of softball more at that time than I did basketball. And thankfully I had you know someone like my high school coach that said you know that’s great. I think you actually are more talented in softball but your career you’re going to have a chance to get a scholarship. You know there’s more money in it and you probably should pursue basketball. And without that I don’t know that I would have. And you know that you know I was writing letters to softball coaches throughout the country. You know I was sure I wanted to go away from home I wanted to go somewhere and you know you know play high level softball and I’m not sure that I could have that was what was in my mind. But but you know but the basketball you know. So then I then turn my full attention down to basketball and I was fortunate to to get recruited because I had a teammate that was a really good player and they were coming to see her and I was able to latch on to one of those situations so so thankful for my high school coach and then I’ve had you know just just some great mentors along the way. I would say most of them you know have come in my 19 years in the WBA whether it’s Elin Dunn and Donovan who gave him my opportunity to coach in the NBA my first job I was a sort of a part time assistant I made five thousand dollars and I would’ve done it for nothing. And she probably knew that but you know it was just a access to get the start. So I’ve just been so fortunate. And also what it means to me is you know it’s a time to you know kind of shine the light and you know social media is amazing you know that you get to see so much and that’s what’s really cool.

[00:16:28] You know just around the world women’s empowerment and how how much it’s taking hold and the traction that has gotten and the direction we’re headed with that. So that’s the day to you know sort of you know honor it you know cherish it that sort of thing. But it also to me means you know there shouldn’t just be this day that we’re talking about it and how far we have to go. So it’s all of those things for me all wrapped in one.

[00:16:51] Well that’s awesome. And you’re right I like I had a similar start to you and a lot of people listening understand that you started for five thousand dollars and you needed an opportunity given to you by somebody else and lots of different mentors Learning The Good The Bad and The Ugly along the way. So I echo what you said in March for Women’s History Month is very important to myself as well.

[00:17:14] So Coach Riv we know you’re a winner. Coaches always want to win. So Shira are a little bit about yourself with us. Tell us what you’re like as coach I don’t know what I’m like as a coach.

[00:17:26] I don’t know. I don’t get to see me. But I think that I would say the traits are high I’m very sensitive detail oriented.

[00:17:39] That was probably the highest sort of demand that I had that I place on those around me whether it’s staff or whether it’s players I think you know you probably coach the same way that you know that it’s a fine line between winning and losing when you’re at the highest level.

[00:17:56] And so we want to make sure that if we’re not going to be successful in that game it’s not going to be because of stuff that we could have controlled to our attention our preparation.

[00:18:05] And so that’s that’s probably the number one thing that I would say that would be a takeaway for identifying who I am as a coach and I think that the demanding in a holding accountable. I think that’s probably the one of the most valuable things we can do as coaches with our players the players don’t necessarily know that or agree with that. But but it is exactly what takes teams you know to their to their highest possible abilities and great players want to be held accountable. That’s that’s what I have found that that they would be disappointed in me if I wasn’t the one that was in a holding my more to a higher level. People think well my more so amazing as it is. Yeah.

[00:18:50] But but my more wants to be you know you know better and better and better and if I’m not the one they’re pushing her I think she would be very disappointed in that.

[00:18:58] So it’s a difficult thing to hold people accountable because sometimes you’re telling them things they don’t want to hear you know to go a little harder to do a little better.

[00:19:08] You know that’s challenging.

[00:19:10] And I think that you know the way that the coaches that can get our teams to do these things because some people say well you just have to that’s why you went and I’m not telling you that you have to win with talent right. Not many teams are untalented that wins.

[00:19:23] So exactly. Now that’s what it’s about you know is that talented. To me it’s about assembling a group and you know this from identifying you know prospects to play for you. They’ve got to have certain characteristics. And my favorite characteristic is not some something that they do on the board. It’s who they are as a person and their selfless nature. If you aren’t selfless if you aren’t willing to do you know for the good of the team were probably not going to select you ask anybody that has that reputation.

[00:19:54] It’s just it would be just it would go against what I commit to our captains which is I’ll never bring in somebody that isn’t about the team. So they don’t have to worry about that piece the culture piece. It’s it’s really valuable. Now when we’re selecting and that’s not just in the draft it’s also in free agency. You know that you have to be mindful of those things and sometimes your challenge with that. Sometimes you’re challenged with okay just players pretty darn good. And we really need that right now but there maybe there are knucklehead and you know you have to make that difficult decision that at the end of the day you’re going to be more successful. You might not be as talented as you could have been but you’re going to be more successful if you have a collection of people that are selfless and don’t care who gets the credit and that’s exactly what we’ve had. That’s why we’ve been successful. And I think the relationship part of it I I really value who our players are what they’re about what makes them tick. And I think it gives you that chance to you know when you have a relationship off the floor and what that means to me is not that I hang out with the players. It’s more that there’s conversations that are not pertain to basketball because I want to know who they are. I want to know about their families I want to know about some of their trials and tribulations. You know as a person to that point where do they want to go how can I help each player get to where they want to go. It could be goals on the court could be you know things that they find near and dear to them that they want to promote and be involved in. And I just want to support them in that way.

[00:21:22] And I think because of that you’re able to have your moments on the court were you know to the outside it might look you know like a you know an adverse situation that players you know you’re challenge them during the moments of the game.

[00:21:37] Players are OK with that if they know you care about them and you know you know that from from your years of success than you know championship teams have something special and you know it during the journey you know you know the feel.

[00:21:49] And you know obviously the talent is there. There’s a connection. I’m big on that as well making sure that players are connecting with each other and what does that mean there’s you know we say there’s all types of contact that I want our players to have its eye contact. It’s physical contact.

[00:22:06] It’s that I just know what you need right now because I’m giving of myself. And we tell our players that at any point in time if they are thinking of themselves they’re doing our team a disservice.

[00:22:17] I want them to always think about each other and you know that you’ve had far more success than I had. And so you know the you know those those teams are special when they have those sorts of intangibles.

[00:22:28] Oh absolutely I agree with everything you said and I always try to get my team in or read. And like you said you know what you’ve got it you know what you don’t and you can’t tell if you’re fractured and you’re trying to keep the pieces together or you just find your stride and away you go. And it’s awesome. Absolutely. So Coach Shreeve there’s a big difference between a winning mindset and any other kind of mindset for an athlete or coach. So what does excellence mean to you and how do you coach excellence.

[00:22:58] Well I think I think I touched on a little bit of excellence. To me is that when you’re you know each day that you come together your whether it’s the coaches whether it’s the trainer the players everyone that’s associated are pure Cantet everyone that’s associated with our travel party that’s in this every day excellence to me is each player on their own is coming to give you their very best and that’s that’s eutopia as a coach right.

[00:23:25] And we’re all got that moment of coming to give you my best. I don’t care about anything else. I tune everything else out. It’s all about us right here what we’re doing. Whether it’s that particular drill in that moment whether it’s you know execution part of a game. You know when we come into timeouts. I love it when the players have resolved the issues before I get to that time. And we can talk about what lies ahead as opposed to you know what was happening before. Those are my best teams the ones that in a time out that they’ve already worked through it all and I commend that you got it yep everything’s good OK. All right here’s what’s next. And that’s noser. You know those are the teams that have that excellence way about them the leadership. I think excellence is when players hold each other accountable and coach doesn’t have to. Again these are eutopia moments these don’t happen all the time but I have I have had those teams and I know that you have as well that huge you know that you revel in what I have. I’m a believer in multiple captains and leadership. I only have 12 players on the team maximum sometimes only 11 but I still have four captains. Love it because I just think there’s strength and said it was my management team and I could go to them when things were not. Maybe either you know not going well on the court or whatever the issue I go to them. We talk about things and I tell them every time when we parted I said we go as you go. And so that was the strength of our team. It didn’t matter what this young rookie command maybe wasn’t playing didn’t matter. And I told him it wasn’t about them not making the right play. It’s about what you guys are Dillon because no matter what when that crew performed at a high level were excellent. We were very successful. And so to me though those are the you know the excellence is the drive you know the drive to be the best at what you’re willing to do to achieve that excellence. That’s when you have really really special athletes when when those are the things that they come in by themselves and want to want to do those things in a natural you’re going to have some players are going to always have that drive. Because not all players are excellent. Right. And so how do you get those players to push towards their excellence because excellence for them can be very difficult. The excellence for a small Augustus my more Lindsay wailin it’s also knowing that you know as a coach that it’s not the same for everybody. So that’s why I would say my definition of excellence is that I love it I love it.

[00:25:54] And yeah like you said you’re very fortunate when you get those players that take care of problems themselves and you hope that within your leadership group. I love that you have four captains out of a group of 12. I like to identify six leaders in hockey we typically carry 21 to 23 players. It’s unusual in hockey. Most people name a captain and two assistant captains. I don’t feel like it’s enough with a group that large I agree. And as you know when we’ve had great leadership within the team you do great things as a team when you don’t have great leadership you’re fractured and all hell breaks loose so.

[00:26:27] Absolutely.

[00:26:28] You know it well yes. So Coach Riv I believe that winning is a process so what is the importance of trusting in the process to you. What does that mean.

[00:26:40] I mean trust is at the center of it. You know and you know that from so we have training camp that can only last three weeks and they know that the lead up to Moscow seasons are much longer.

[00:26:51] Essentially we know there in other countries there and then they all come back together for a training camp. And I’ve always said know this is my this is my 19th year of doing it. That what you do in training camp is what you’re going to do during the season. And so you already know your feel. And so for me that that trust piece that is that is at the heart of any any successful whether it’s a team business whatever it is trust is also hard to find. You know it’s also hard to it’s not hard to identify we all know what it feels like.

[00:27:25] But sometimes on a 12 player roster you may not have all 12 that trust in what you’re doing. Those are the teams that you’re going to you’re going to you know. It depends on who they are. You know and what effect do they have on on your roster. You know it’s your ability to succeed. If we think that it’s somebody that’s meaningful and there isn’t the level of trust then that has to be there has to be addressed.

[00:27:48] I had a situation with a weather young prospect that wasn’t buying into you know the intangibles of how we treat each other when we walk in and we’ll come in to do our job when you drive to work when you come off the elevator when you pass through the players lounge and you’re starting to see people I know trust me is started with you know the way that you carry yourself in the way that you greet people when you see them your eyes. All that stuff I contact starts right away. How you treat the person that’s going to cook your breakfast how you treat the you know the trainer that’s going to get you ready for the day. Those are all trust that you’re building trust for other people in you. And so we had a we had a player that didn’t necessarily buy into all of that stuff.

[00:28:34] And and you know we were on the verge of cutting her and we brought her in and said hey this is a problem.

[00:28:41] You know we’ve been saying this and this is really important in order for them to trust you. You have to give of yourself in ways that you’re just not. And her response to me was I don’t have to love. You know I don’t have to love my teammates I don’t have the you know love. And I said we completely disagree on that. That’s at the core of what we do. You have to love every team mate. I didn’t say you have to agree with everything that they do but love to me means I will do anything for you.

[00:29:10] And that’s where trust. You know in your behavior that’s where trust is formed. You know what. How do you give of yourself in a drill. Are you on an island or are you only thinking about what you’re doing and whether coach think things that you’re doing the right thing you know what about your teammates what do they think of you and Jimmy. That’s the ultimate don’t. It’s not about what I think of you. It’s about what your teammates think of you. And that’s where that you know that Torre whether it’s my four captains holding each other accountable because you love each other. And also receiving information when maybe you’re not having that day I need to be able to trust as a captain that my other captains are going to see things in me that maybe I’m not giving what I need to be giving and they can say to me and they have the confidence that they can say to me hey pick it up. You know you’ve got to be able to get out there and deny that wing better. Coach says we’ve got to take away this pass. You know you’re not doing it you’ve got to give us more. That’s all. That’s all rooted in trust because when you walk out of there you’ve got to know that if you said something difficult that is not going to be carried around is going to be carried to the next day to the next game. Exactly. And that’s you know that that’s our challenge. I think that it is difficult to hold one of the coaches at your job right. And people expect that. But as captains you know that that to me is the most crucial role is the willingness to hold your teammates accountable and that doesn’t mean that it has to be nasty. Everyone has their way of communicating. But the willingness to do that and then having teammates because there is a you know a core level of trust to receive the information that you say OK good. You right I got you right. I’ve got to do better.

[00:30:49] Those are the teams that you know that I think that are rooted in trust and without trust. You’re not going to achieve a high level of success it’s just not going to happen.

[00:30:57] No. Exactly. So here we are as coaches were coaching to win and we’re trying to get our athletes to buy into the process trust the process. But along the way we all experience this disgruntled players players that are not happy about the amount of playing time that they’re getting or the role that they’re playing. So I’ve experienced that every coach listening has experience that.

[00:31:19] How do you deal with that. And you experience it every year.

[00:31:22] It’s just a matter of you know you know what the situation is maybe one year they had a bigger role and then you know maybe through free agency or the draft you know things change maybe they’re not performing as well.

[00:31:34] And you have to make difficult decisions and I think that the disgruntled nature of it you need that as a coach to expect that in every season. You’re not going to have a season where someone even in your championship season someone is disappointed in their role.

[00:31:47] And I go back to I think the selection process I think that you have to make sure that the root of who the person is is a good person a good rational reasonable person without that you’re not going to be able to succeed in that disgruntled player management. So I think that that speaks to that. You’ve got a picture that the root of who they are if you take them out of this difficult situation you know that they are you know have made solid decisions with their life. And I think for us. Well said I think with hope that you’re not going to I mean it’s just going to be a big time challenge. You’re going nowhere you’re going. And so I think that again every every year we’ve we’ve had players that were quote disgruntled you know for me I think what’s really important is when I can go back and I can say you know what that player really handled themselves well I know they were disappointed they didn’t play as much or they were playing in the beginning of the season and then something changes and then they’re not playing as much. And so I identify a successful disruptive player by did people know they were disgruntled. Other than me did there when they were their teammates affected by you know they were being disgruntled or disappointed. Do our fans know by what their behavior on the bench. And so I think that’s important. I tell all players I don’t expect you to be happy every second. I haven’t made every right decision you know but sometimes I have to make a decision that’s away from you. You may not agree with it but how you handle it is vital to our team. And so I have to say there’s probably only been one time that a player was continually. This is a rookie continually upset with playing time and kind of not now mind you these are players that were playing against or playing behind a 34 minute Lindsay whaled 34 minutes Simona Acasis you know 35 minute mime or Rebecca Bretz the third. I was playing you know in our in our championship prime these were many minutes to go around.

[00:33:40] So I think that you know and players when they come out of college and when they’re the best player in college when you’re the all time leading scorer what you know all those things. Oh yeah that’s all great but that doesn’t mean anything. You know to that next level and kind of you know teaching them you know.

[00:33:58] And I think communication is at the root of any successful navigation you know of of unhappy whether it’s employees or players that I have to make sure that I’m acknowledging that player. I’m trying to find maybe you know what I probably can get them in right here just to kind of give them a little bit of a boost and just recognizing where they are. But you know there was there was we had one time where you know this throughout the entire season during wins you know pouting and you know just sucking the life out of you. And we just don’t have time for that. And you know as we said you have a chance to be an energy GIVER or an energy TAKER and put it to two particular player was an energy TAKER and we got rid of him.

[00:34:42] And you know it’s just you just I don’t care how good and we came away for nothing it didn’t matter to us. It was addition by subtraction. So you know those are hard things. But but yeah they’re necessary to be successful.

[00:34:58] Yeah. So one thing that’s a little bit different between hockey and basketball so when basketball players are on the court. They do come to the bench a little bet your best players don’t come to the bench that much drinking game. So the kids that aren’t playing are on the bench. The women are playing on the bench for a extended period of time in hockey. They’re going out and playing about a 30 or 40 second shift and they come back to the bench where there are a lot of players standing the bench and are playing and they come back for about 90 seconds and then they go back out. And so what hockey we call it it you can either beat a black hole where you’re just sucking and draining the energy out of the players come back to the bench to catch their breath for they go back out again or you could be a sparkplug. That’s right. And that outer spark. And it’s so valuable. It’s so important for us to become a team and for us to win in hockey and I’ll tell you that’s the toughest thing that I’ve had to teach in all the years that I’ve been coaching. So it’s always good to hear from other coaches.

[00:35:53] Yeah but it’s true. I would say that most coaches would say that no that’s that’s the most difficult thing is because you want you know you want it to where everyone’s happy you know.

[00:36:02] And the the experience is enjoyable you know. And every angle and this to me includes support staff. I don’t want the support staff member that’s sucking the life out of us but we just think it’s valuable everywhere. Not now not just the players our players know that we’re holding everyone liable to a higher level. Not just you know and working on their game. You know the basketball details but you know who they are as a team. And we establish said up front that you know we establish that when we’re we’re prospecting when we’re when we’re interviewing draft prospects or we’re you know talking to create ins. Your when you’re talking to free agents you’re talking about someone that’s already probably built a part of their resume.

[00:36:44] And so if they have a reputation of certain things we’re probably not touching them. And so and that’s what our PR captains know is that you know they can feel very very confident that the type of people they’re not going to manage those things. We don’t have to captains don’t have to manage you know disgruntled players.

[00:36:59] We just try not to bring in that type of person. We’re not always successful you know and sometimes you here’s the hardest thing for athletes. There are support systems right as you know it could be parents. It could be former coaches you know that maybe are doing them a disservice that they’re telling them maybe they’re better than what they are or there’s no there’s not. There’s not that being given reality to the situation. You know maybe you’re playing behind a really good player and it has nothing to do with you. You’ve got to wait your time. Well I mean that’s all part of this. You know and you’ve got to you know put on your big girl pants and accept it and you have to keep working that sort of thing for me is in handling. You know are you going to work out less. Are you going to work out more to try to change the situation. I always tell players you want to be happy I’m not saying that to be happy with your playing time. You know you don’t always have to be happy with your role but how you handle it.

[00:37:56] It’s just like anything in life. And that’s hopefully what we’re teaching them is OK maybe it’s not but but when you’re not playing basketball anymore and you’re in the corporate world perhaps and you know the decision wasn’t made in your favor. You know what are you going to do. How are you going to be that one that you walk by your office and you just go like it sucked the life out of me. So it’s a lifelong lesson.

[00:38:17] Absolutely it is not going to have your parents call when you’re in the corporate world and complain that you’re not getting playing time. Well some might. Oh they might. But that just drives me nuts anyway.

[00:38:29] And I put that on the parents that I put that on the parents. Oh and I have a side tracking can hear a little bit but my this is the thing that my parents did. And I know you know it was a different time it was in the 80s and I think you know we all think that it was a better time than it is now.

[00:38:43] Yeah but but I think that you know I remember when we had my last outing we had some parents that were sort of I don’t say overinvolved but maybe no influence.

[00:38:55] You know there are kids playing time. And I remember my parents when I was upset you know I wasn’t doing what I supposed to do. But I didn’t see it that way. Maybe the coach was hard on me or whatever. Remember this was back in the day when we had dorms that had payphones down in the hall. I remember. And you had to. It was a shared thing and a wait in line till your turn. So I’d walk out of my dorm lockdown ring up my parents.

[00:39:17] And you know I would always want to talk to my dad that my situation and both of them both my mom and my dad you know never said to me you know find like come home let’s just transfer let’s go somewhere else which is what they say now. That’s what they say now. Right. Oh you know one little problem. Let’s run through something else it’s got to be better somewhere else running for the hills. Yeah.

[00:39:39] Yeah. And so my dad always said and I’m so thankful for this I didn’t understand it time I was actually mad at him at the time when he would say to me Cheryl obviously you’re not doing something right. Go figure out what it is he needs you to do and go do it. You know and it was on me it wasn’t on the coach and that just doesn’t happen anymore.

[00:39:56] Right. And that’s why you’ve become a winner it’s why you’re successful you have that foundation that Florida stand on from your from your parents from the way you were raised so that’s so hurt. So country defined personal success.

[00:40:10] Personal Success. You know I think if you wrap up everything that we’ve talked about in terms of you know the type of team you want the culture I think at the end of the day you know personal success you know if you’re talking I assume as a coach or you talked an off the off the court is are two very different things.

[00:40:28] I don’t think much about the non basketball stuff to be honest with you.

[00:40:32] But personal successes as a coach I have to say it’s just as as a coach I think it’s it’s doing all those things that we talked about and driving pushing and challenging.

[00:40:43] But at the end of the day them having fun competing together is where I go that was successful that was fun that success. And that’s that’s not always easy to accomplish because sometimes you know if you look at our team we had a six a run of seven or eight years of of competing for championships four championships in seven years. We were in the WBA finals six of those seven and so you know in year eight. You know it’s kind of like a relationship and they self-diagnosis themselves that sometimes in a relationship when you get to you know five six seven years.

[00:41:17] Things that were cute in the beginning aren’t cute anymore. And so how to navigate that.

[00:41:24] And you know this group was mature enough to kind of go OK this is happening you know hey this was kind of like a relationship. I remember you know and like how to how to figure it out. And at the end of the day if we’re not have fun doing what we’re doing I’m not saying every moment is fine but if the totality of the experience isn’t fun then it wasn’t a success. And and most likely you know those players aren’t going to give you everything that they have and that’s it for me the root of it if if we’re not competing and having fun while we’re competing why are we doing this. And that’s kind of been our that’s kind of been our mantra.

[00:41:58] You know that I didn’t say every moment was fun and to say that you know you know putting in the hours every day is always easy you know. But it’s necessary. And yeah. So make sure that you’re doing it with a level of I guess I will say levity to it but that you know you understand that it is a game.

[00:42:20] You know it’s not the age of the world when you don’t win. But that’s a that’s a contagious mindset. I like players I think it isn’t into them. Well we don’t you know you’ve got to have some of those you know and we have.

[00:42:32] That’s absolutely why we’ve been successful. You know they don’t sleep at night just like the coaches don’t sleep at night. But at the end of the day you know as long as you can you know gather with your players after a game couple of them come into the coach’s locker room and have a beer with the coaches. You know that’s that to me is is the success part. You know that they want to be with you and they want to talk about what just happened and what’s next. I’ve been I’ve been so fortunate. And I know you’ve had those years too. It’s just so much fun. You know it was hard. The harder it is the more fun it is when you actually you know reach the mountaintop. And we’ve always talked about that so. So that’s personal success.

[00:43:08] Yeah that’s great. So you touched a little bit unprofessional while you were talking what personal do you want to talk strictly about professional success or do you feel like you’ve nailed it already.

[00:43:20] Professional Success. Yeah I think I think that’s you know I think that’s probably encompasses most of it. I think you know the other part that we didn’t talk about is staff.

[00:43:30] You know am I am I being a mentor you know to. Am I giving opportunities to women to coach former players.

[00:43:38] You know those are things that I look at you know that I want to be. You know I think they said one time that you can’t be all things to all people. I try to be all things to all people in that you know I think that you’re responsible for a lot as a head coach right.

[00:43:54] You know you’re responsible not just for the players but you know who you bring in it and your support staff whether it’s your trainers or whether it’s your operations people your general managers or your PR people your CRB all of it that touches it and we want to make sure that that all of them are having. You know obviously the great experience you’re challenging them and what they’re doing what they can do better and then to see them go on to something else that we were able to you know to do for them and their experience to achieve something else.

[00:44:25] And I think for a staff that’s absolutely when you have an assistant coach talking head coach you know that’s that’s one of the ultimate success stories and you know that’s no different. You know I think you probably have had it for you know a number of years that you coach that you see that. Now you want to do well except against you know that’s the ultimate you can’t let your assistant coach come back in with.

[00:44:45] No you can’t.

[00:44:46] And we have that the first game of our season this year. James Wade who was an assistant for two years. We were able to you know get him the Chicago job and so we opened with Chicago.

[00:44:57] So that’s going to have a little extra to it.

[00:45:00] Oh yeah well that’ll be fun and I’ll be great. It will be. Well now that we’ve had you as a guest on this show. And we’ve got to see a little bit about how you take what makes you tick. I’m really excited to watch you and your team this season. Talk a little bit about your team in the upcoming season.

[00:45:15] Yeah we’re you know we’re a team that’s going through a little bit of change as we as we’ve gotten a little older. We’ve seen retirement with Lindsey Whalen. We know what happens nationally to an athlete. You know North of 30 you know production starts to change a little bit. So we’re kind of navigating that with this particular team. We brought in some new faces. We’re going to have a new starting point for the first time in my tenure here in Minnesota with Danielle Robinson taking over the reins.

[00:45:40] So I’m excited about.

[00:45:43] You know I’m not going to say I’m excited about the retirement of Lindsay Whalen but it’s no one no one in their right mind would be excited about that. No no no no. And I don’t know the equivalent in hockey but point guard quarterback. You know what would be the equivalent of hockey.

[00:45:59] Goaltender goaltenders host weren’t player on the ice. Yeah. OK.

[00:46:02] So you know when you have everything in that then that player that’s Lindsey Whalen You know the personality of the leader the knowing when to take over a game. And we knew each other so well you know I knew what was next for her. She knew what was next for me.

[00:46:16] And so now there’s this sort of newness to the point guard who was a very good point guard in San Antonio in her early years was derailed a little bit by injuries and now we’re we’re kind of getting her back too. I think this next stage of her career we’re kind of looking at it in the next three or five years her career what do we want to do.

[00:46:34] She’s been amazing in terms of her work ethic and being open to how we do things and you know kind of go OK. I was taught this but I like what we’re doing over here. And so you know the success of our team is going to be you know largely dependent upon her ability to kind of give us offensively what Lindsay gave us because Danielle defensively is going to be really good for us it’ll be sort of a nice change of pace we can get some ball pressure you know to dictate action at the point of the offense. But you know can she lead us offensively can she know who needs to have the ball when how to get it so on time on target. All the things that Lindsey just did effortlessly effortlessly. You know and can Daniel be those things. My amours not going to be playing for us this season so we’ve got to we’ve got to figure out how to you know kind of spread around the things that she did. And I also think the intangibles you know Maya was the consummate teammate that understood body language mattered and the way that she that she gave of herself. And so we replaced the replace wheat in her in her place. We signed Kareem a Christmas Kelly who was a free agent that played in Dallas. She is known for who she is as a person. And so that was incredibly valuable to us who she is as a team mate. She’s obviously a good player. And so you know we have some new pieces and but we have some of our mainstays Sylvia is the best center in the world who gets better every time she plays. She’ll be back and she’ll be you know obviously heavily featured in the offense and defensively you know is always a candidate for defensive player of the year. And then Simone Augustus who has been historically you know the face of the franchise that we want you know at the end of her career to be just like the end the Lindsay Wayland’s career in that you know being able to play at a high level on championship teams all the way through your career and that’s something that Simone is working really hard to fend off Father Time if you will because that’s what happens to hockey players when they get to the end of their career. What becomes the skill that is more difficult for them to accomplish as it speed.

[00:48:43] Its speed.

[00:48:44] Yeah. So being able to get to the puck being able to get to where you got to be.

[00:48:48] Yeah winning Senate races because you have to get possession. It’s like a a loose basketball court right. You got to get there first have possession Yeah. So in hockey hockey is loose a lot. We don’t constantly pass from one to the other and have control. It’s it’s constantly loose and there’s always fault races. So speed is really vital.

[00:49:08] Yeah that’s something I always bother me in hockey. The number of turnovers and like just angle to it so it can sometimes.

[00:49:15] Do I know it’s so difficult. So Denver’s basketball you’re right.

[00:49:21] But yeah so we’re we’re we’re a team that you know that that’s going through some change but you know we’re looking at those changes and always people don’t like team right.

[00:49:28] That’s a difficult thing. But I’m I’m sort of looking forward to the newness of the group. We’re gonna be we’re gonna have a chance for the first time in years to to do you know offensively. So you know different different sets different things that you know honestly. The other group was opposed to you know we had done it for a certain way for so long that’s what they wanted to do and they didn’t necessarily.

[00:49:52] They weren’t initially about you know adding new things so there’s a little bit of an opportunity now too. We’re going to have to do things differently because of the skill sets of some of the players are different than what we’ve known so. So as a coach I’ve you know I’ve spent most of the offseason you know just in the playbook you know kind of you know I’m sure the same hockey that the playbook is really really broad but what you actually do is very narrow. And so I’ve got this this broad playbook of of you know we steal things from other teams NBA teams whatever. And so I go OK that would fit our group. So we’ve got this you know this large kind of menu of things that you can pull from. So I’m I’m sort of anxious to kind of see what’s going to work with this group but I’m really really excited about training camp in that as I’ve said before what you do in training camp and so I think this group is really going to be eager to you know sort of prove people wrong.

[00:50:44] This is not this is not going to be a year that the mislabelling are going to be picked to win the championship. And as a matter of fact there’s probably you know a fair amount of people that are going to say that we’re going to have our time in the playoffs and so that is going to that’s going to challenge us and I can guarantee you’re going to make the playoffs. You know if we’re healthy and everybody I can guarantee you this is not going to be a team that’s not going to be a success Lovette. So you heard it here right.

[00:51:08] Yeah I love it. Great attitude. Well we’ve got some we’ve got too many good people too many good people that are that are all about the team that want to win. That that it will be hard for us not to be successful well that’s great.

[00:51:21] Well Coach reave I’d like to thank you for being a guest today on the show and for sharing some nuggets of success nuggets of your winning mindset and nuggets of yourself with us. And now you’ve been aghast we’re really going to be dialed in on your upcoming season and we’re going to be cheering for you. So best of luck. Thanks again.

[00:51:38] Well I appreciate really the opportunity to come on and you know to be a part of the WiSP Sports podcast network. You know really great what we’re doing for women’s sports we need more of it. So appreciate what you’re doing and I appreciate the chance to be a part of coaching royalty today and talking with you and I have a podcast as well and I’m going to be inviting you to join us and so you can share some nuggets of your success.

[00:52:02] Oh thank you so much. I would love that. Thank you. Thank you Coach Reeve, good luck.

[00:52:06] Thank you very much.

[00:52:21] Thank you for listening and thanks again to our sponsor Hugo. Please visit them at Follow and comment on social media. Twitter is at WiSP Sports. My Twitter is @Miller12Shannon, my Facebook and Instagram is @ShannonMiller, my website is You can find links on the show notes for this episode at and find more coverage of women’s sport. Thank you for listening and supporting women in sport everywhere.





Cheryl Reeve [NBAE/Getty Images]
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