Recee Caldwell: Bouncing Back
Colorado Springs, Colo.
Back in 2011, Receé Caldwell (Homeschooled/ San Antonio, Texas) made the USA Basketball Women’s U16 National Team that competed in Merida, Mexico, and earned a gold medal after completing a 5-0 championship run.
The following year, she was invited to the 2012 USA Women’s U17 World Championship Team Trials but did not make the team. Caldwell is back in Colorado once again at the USA Women’s U18 National Team Trials this weekend, and coincidentally, another USA U17 World Championship Team was named today. Only 12 made the squad, which saw about 30 girls going home feeling dissappointed.
Caldwell knows that disappointment all too well. She was a gold medalist and then she was a girl that got cut. Always the optimist, she never allowed that brief moment of frustration get to her. She picked herself back up and kept moving forward.
“There’s nothing to be ashamed of, or embarrassed that you didn’t make the team,” Caldwell shared as part of the advice she would give to those who didn’t make it this year. “These are the best basketball players in the country that you are playing against. Whenever you get cut, it just adds more fuel to the fire to keep working hard and to not have that feeling again. It’s a horrible feeling.
“Take the cut as a loss but also as motivation. It’s a go-getter mentality. You can choose to either shut down, or you can rebound from it. That’s the way I look at it.”
Following her own sound advice, Caldwell has rebounded and is playing better than ever. Invited to this year’s 2014 USA Basketball Women’s U18 National Team Trials, she has performed at a high-level so far while competing with several of the top incoming college freshmen in the nation.
“I’m pretty confident,” she said. “So far, I think I’ve played well throughout these whole trials. My focus has been to be vocal, be the best team leader I can be. I think everyone has been pretty confident and playing extremely well. The coaches were just talking about how everyone has done a tremendous job.”
Under the tutelage of four-time Olympic champion (as a player and coach) Dawn Staley (University of South Carolina) and assistant coaches Kim Barnes Arico (University of Michigan) and Jeff Walz (University of Louisville), Caldwell is enjoying these trials both on the court – thanks to all of their expertise instilled in her by her coaches, as well as off the court – thanks to all the friendships and relationships she is a part of.
“Sierra Calhoun was my roommate when we played at the U16 trials back in 2011, and she’s my roommate again this year,” Caldwell shared. “We played at the 2014 McDonald’s All-American game together too. I’ve also known Brianna (Turner) since we were in the seventh grade. A lot of us played together at the 2014 McDonald’s All-American Game. Just being here together and going through the ultimate experience with USA Basketball is great. “
Aside from currently partaking in her third USA Basketball experience, Caldwell has another exciting step coming up in her life. Next year, she will be attending UCLA and playing for head coach Cori Close as a Bruin.
After being homeschooled during her last year of high school, one might think that the transition onto a large campus and prominent Division I school could feel slightly overwhelming. Caldwell, however, believes that if anything her homeschool experience has given her an advantage and prepared her for the journey ahead.
“I actually think being homeschooled this last year has helped me with the transition,” she said. “I was really focused on myself and the mentality of doing whatever it takes to win for next year. I got to have more of an adult experience, like making my own appointments and all those kinds of things.
“Coach Close, she’s going to be our leader, and we’re her soldiers. With the transition, I think I will be fine in Los Angeles by myself even if my parents are staying in Texas.”
Understandably excited for whatever may come next, Caldwell feels that her experience and maturity have her prepared for the future, whether that will be making the 2014 USA U18 National Team or not.
“Going to Mexico (back in 2011 with the U16 team) was just a great experience. Having those games under my belt and seeing what it takes to win, that’s helped me, especially in trials (this year) and seeing what the team needed from me.”
“Coach (Jill Rankin) Schneider (head coach of the women’s U16 national team that earned gold in Mexico) really helped me and really talked to me about what needed to be done when I was on the team. That just has really stuck in my mind, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do here. Hopefully, if I make the team, I can transfer that to the other players.”
With only one more session to go, Caldwell soon will be finding out her fate and learning if she’s one of the 12 athletes selected to represent the USA at the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women on August 6-10, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Regardless of this weekend’s outcome, she is determined to stay positive and to always remember one little piece of advice she hopes everyone applies whenever they feel down: Work like you refuse to lose again.