When last season’s crowd gathered at Reed Arena, to root for their favorite Women’s Basketball team, it’s safe to say there was still room for more season ticket holders as well as faithful supporters of Texas Aggie basketball. Tonight marks the change of all that, in a very good way.
Almost 1,000 new season tickets were sold over last year’s as a result of the Aggies women’s excellent talent and the indefatigable spirit of Blair to keep the Brazos Valley challenged to come out and keep coming out to support his team.
But this time Blair and his outstanding staff found a “plus-1” way to get people into Reed this year. They renewed their offering of this week’s Basketball 101 “for women only” class this week at the Cox-McFerrin Center. Not surprisingly a capacity crowd of area ladies gathered to learn, and learn they did.
As you entered the center, you were assigned into one of six groups and your name was entered into a drawing for some really outstanding door prizes with drawings throughout the evening. They ranged from dinners from Christopher’s World Grille and The Republic, and a grand prize of jewelry from David Gardner’s Jewelers. There were also sought-after t-shirts emblazoned with, “Dr. Loftin taught me how to Dougie,” a dance move that Blair demonstrated for the crowd, reminiscent of the promise he’d made to his Aggie women’s team ‘if’ they’d managed to bring him the national championship.
Dancing was on Blair’s mind in fact, as he joked with the crowd about his willingness to share later on who got kicked off of Dancing with the Stars, a program everyone gave up to be there with him. He even proffered an opinion, shared by the crowd, that he didn’t want anything happening to Ricki Lake and J. R. but it was okay if Nancy Grace got the boot.
Frankly, Blair could find a way to make reading the phone book out loud interesting, as he clearly had the respect and admiration of everyone in the room, and has for all the years he’s been here. That’s what is the foundation of the magic for the Texas A&M Women’s Basketball Team, a leader with strong character, principles, and a staff who underscores and supports those principles with their behavior, spirit, and attitude. It’s one big happy family and it’s not just for show—it’s the real deal.
Coach Vic Schaefer offered the prayer to bless the Epicures Catering meal that Danny Morrison and his team shared. Next up was “Mr. Golden Throat,” which is how Coach Blair referred to Mike Wright, General Manager of KBTX Media, the emcee for the evening. With Wright’s and Blair’s comedy exchanges, that alone would have been worth the $25 ticket price, but wait, there was more, lots more in store.
Following the dinner the six teams of ladies in attendance went into ‘drill mode,’ as they were treated to 8 different stations in which they learned about Recruiting (with Coach Kelly Bond), Offense (with Coach Blair), Strength and Conditioning (with Coach Jennifer Jones), Defense (with Coach Schaefer), Officials (with NCAA referee, Scotty Herman), Life outside basketball (with hometown favorite Karla Gilbert and sophomore Kristen Grant), Film Breakdown (with Coach Johnnie Harris), and Game Day Fashion (with good sport, Mike Wright, who had everyone in stitches as he read the script that he kept telling the audience someone else wrote for him, counting the number of times he had to read the word ‘Leggings’ in the segment).
After the preliminary training, it was time to return to the practice gym, where Coach Blair shared a ‘Book list that you or your husband might enjoy’, in keeping with the tone of the program, ‘Ladies Night’. As Blair noted the books, he highlighted Chicago Bears coach Tony Dungy’s book, ‘The Mentor Leader’ as well as Todd Gongwer’s book ‘LEAD…for God’s Sake!’
Blair also shared his enthusiasm for this book as he noted that many of the problems of today’s young people are found in their lack of training or coaching to become leaders, and thus wind up in trouble as they become followers. The wisdom of Blair was noted and appreciated. Blair’s reading list also includes: ‘Water for Elephants’ by Sara Gruene, ‘The Help’ by Kathryn Stockett, ‘Rudder: From Leader to Legend’ by Tom Hatfield (after all it ‘is’ Aggieland, and ‘Winning Every Day’ by Coach Lou Holtz. Academics are key to Blair as part of his foundation for his student-athletes, with the emphasis on the student.
After the evening’s classes, the women in each of the six groups felt bonded, felt at home in and on a basketball court and were heard to be repeating terms from the various scouting reports so eloquently explained by Coach Harris. For those men who accompany the new trainees to Aggie games, don’t be surprised to hear the game-lovers clue you in on when Coach Blair is calling a ‘Stir the Pot’ or ‘Pinch with Fingers’ offensive set.
And it’s always a guaranteed show to watch Coach Schaefer on the sidelines. How many times the term ‘crazy man’ was used, lovingly, by his players is a tribute to the intense focus and determination Schaefer has for his craft. This is the first in a series of articles that will introduce each of Coach Blair’s team and provide some ‘up-close and personal’ highlights about the true team of champions assembled to coach this year’s champions.
Tonight’s season begins against Lamar University at 7 pm. Individual reserved seat tickets are only $13.00, which is the best bargain in town to watch National Champions defend their title. Coach Blair is sure to welcome every single person who comes to be there for his team. His outstanding team of coaches have worked for months for the Aggie nation. It’s time to return the favor. Gig ‘em!