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“Spark”ing in the Off Season
This will be an ongoing series highlighting what Sparks players have been up to since last season. First is guard Marie Ferdinand-Harris, who began working on her basketball school as well as the NBA’s Haiti relief effort and time with her family
Hi, I just wanted to take a moment and reflect on the 2009 Sparks season and then move on to what became a very busy offseason and what is now my preparation for the 2010 season. So let’s start at the beginning.
Once our season ended, I went home [upset] because for the second year in a row we didn’t make it out of the Western Conference Finals and we have had two teams that could’ve and should’ve won it all. So immediately following the season, I dealt with the disappointment of that for awhile.
Then, I decided to step away from basketball and enjoy my family in San Antonio, which is where my husband and son are. Being with them helps take my mind off of basketball and remind me what’s really important. We did a lot of fun things, like going to Texas Fiesta and Six Flags. From there we went to Miami to visit family I have there and also to check on the bakery and restaurant that I own.
After taking care of business in Miami, I headed back to San Antonio to celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary, which was October 8th, and on top of that we celebrated my birthday, which was October 13th. Then for a while, we just laid low and hung out as a family.
Finally, I said enough is enough, I need to get back to work. Not basketball work-outs but I got to work planning my Basketball School of Excellence. I spent a lot of time visiting with Elementary, Middle and HS Coaches and Principals that I’m going to be working with in order to get this program established. The program is geared towards three things: 1) Bringing back the fundamentals, 2) Teaching kids how to shoot and 3) Teaching them life management skills and how to get into college. That is what the program is about so I’m just starting the foundation of it.
I’m really excited about its potential because I think that there is such a need for it now with kids these days. We’ve gone away from teaching the fundamentals but also teaching kids the importance of basketball in life. All kids want to do these days is scrimmage, scrimmage and scrimmage and they don’t take time to work on the fundamentals. This program is about player development and in turn will be about people development. It’s going to be called Marie’s Basketball School of Excellence and I can’t wait to get started.
The real goal of this program is to show the importance of sports in kid’s lives. For me, basketball blessed me with a four-year scholarship to LSU and now has blessed me to have a career in the WNBA. Off the court, it has taught me how to work with people, how to be a great teammate and how important communication skills are. My Basketball School of Excellence will hopefully do that for each kid we work with.
After working out some details of my Basketball School, I started working out again so that I would be ready for the season. I’ve been working out with my long-time strength coach and some different people with basketball. I am really focused on my body and getting it ready for game shape. I feel as though I’m getting older and stretching becomes more important as does eating right. I’m working hard so that I’m ready when training camp rolls around so that I’m doing my part to make sure that we don’t miss out on another opportunity to win a championship. I want to be ready to fill in whatever role I’m given. As each month passes by, my workouts are becoming more and more intense so the day when it’s time for me to put on Sparks jersey, I’m locked and loaded and ready to go.
Lastly, I was able to make a trip to NBA All-Star weekend in Dallas and it was amazing. The person that surprised me the most was Pau Gasol. For him being so big and part of the Lakers, I didn’t expect him to be as personable or talkative as he was. He was a breath of fresh air and an all around great guy. I was also able to participate in a commercial with Dwayne Wade and Alonzo Mourning for Haiti Relief. That was truly an honor because I have family in Haiti and I was able to work with these two great men for a great cause.
As you can see this offseason has been very busy but I’ve enjoyed it. Being able to be home with my husband and son while also focusing on making myself a better basketball player and a better person has been great. I can’t wait for the 2010 season to start and I hope to see you all there.