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Quotes >> USA Basketball Women’s National Team at the U.S. Naval Academy

  • Date:
    Sep 9, 2014

Annapolis, Maryland

On Tuesday, Sept. 9, during the USA Basketball Women’s National Team’s three-day training camp at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, the squad was visited by Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia, the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, observed 4,000 midshipmen get into noon formation and march into the chow hall for lunch, ate lunch and chatted with the midshipmen, and held a pair of clinics in the evening for local youths at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County and one at the U.S. Naval Academy for children of military parents.

All in all, it was a very packed day, but one that will remain with the team for a long time to come.

USA head coach Geno Auriemma (University of Connecticut)

Looking at this morning, what are your thoughts on having Sgt. Maj. Battaglia address the team?

Anytime we’re in this situation where we get to expand our horizons, so to speak, basketball is the most important thing to these kids -- they’re trying to make the USA National Team -- but when we can bring in someone to talk about people who are making a similar commitment in other areas, and they’re representing their country as well as we’re representing it, it shows them that this isn’t just any team you’re trying out for. It’s not like your pro team, or where you play in Europe. If they didn’t already feel that certain extra commitment that they have to make, I think that when they listened to Sgt. Maj. Battaglia, they got that.

On the noon formation and chow hall experience:

I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. To move 4,000 midshipmen in like that and have them all sit down and eat, it took about 10 minutes to do all that. Then when you walk into that room, I’ve never seen 4,000 people eat at one time and do it in such a fashion. It kind of leaves you staring. I can’t believe they do all that. From the whole ceremony, from the time they got into their formation, while they were marching in, just the whole tradition about what they do, it was great for our players to see that. To see that kind of precision that they take great pride in. I didn’t want it to end.

How can you relate the precision you see at the Naval Academy and the teamwork you’re trying to build with the USA National Team?

They are all on a team. The midshipmen here, they’re on the big team. They’re in the U.S. Navy. And then they’re on smaller teams, whether it be their company or their battalion, wherever they’re assigned to. There’s always teammates and a lot of the exercises that they do here are to reinforce that feeling of camaraderie and that feeling that you don’t let your teammates down and I think that’s what great players do. The great players really care a lot about their teammates. They care about earning the respect of their teammates and they don’t want to let their teammates down. So, all the things that they learn here are things that we’re trying to teach our players as well.


Chloe Stapleton (U.S. Naval Academy / Cary, N.C.)

What was it like for you being out here at the youth clinic, working with the USA Basketball Women’s National Team?

I thought it was a great experience. I got to work with Nneka (Ogwumike) and Danielle (Robinson) at the shooting station. It was just great to have small talk with them and get the rebounds with the little ones. It was great to hang out with them.

What are your thoughts on USA Basketball’s Hoops for Troops program?

I think it’s great that they support us; we support them. It’s awesome that they could come to the U.S. Naval Academy and practice and spend time with us.

Sgt. Maj. Battaglia and Geno Auriemma spoke to the USA team this morning about representing this country, but in different ways. How does what you do here at the U.S. Naval Academy translate to your basketball team and vice versa?

Coming to the Naval Academy is hard. It’s a different college experience. Having that mindset is that it’s hard work and if you do work hard, you will succeed. We do that here at the Naval Academy and with Navy women’s basketball.


Sue Bird (Seattle Storm)

Why is the USA Basketball Hoops for Troops program an important initiative?

This is one of the few initiatives where it really makes sense, because you have two groups of people who have so many similarities. It’s really been a cool experience to get to know some of the troops here. We went to lunch with them and just being able to ask questions and hear some of the kind of day-to-day things they go through, it’s really similar to what an athlete goes through. Mind you, on a much larger scale with much more serious things at stake. But, I think that’s why it’s such a perfect union, because there are so many similarities in terms of the discipline and the teamwork, getting to know the people you have to work with and making that work. It’s actually been really cool. Obviously I’ve been around and done a lot of things like this, but this is one of the few times I’ve really felt connected to it. So, it’s been a lot of fun.


Stefanie Dolson (Washington Mystics)

On the day’s activities:

I had a lot of fun today with all of our Hoops for Troops activities. It definitely inspired me seeing these kids at the boys and girls club playing, working hard and paying attention to what we were teaching them.  I wish I had a great club like that when I was younger to get out and get more active. Today, meeting the midshipmen and eating lunch with them it was a lot of fun.  I got to go on my “date” with them and we got to talk and interact with them and it was an experience that I won’t forget.


Bria Hartley (Washington Mystics)

On the day’s activities:

I had a great time at the Hoops for Troops clinic today. It was a lot of fun playing with the kids, doing the drills and having races with them – they were really fun to be around.  It is always great to come back into the community and give back and do something for the kids because I didn’t always have that when I was growing up.   Having lunch today with the midshipmen was great today. I had a great time hanging out with them.  I even met a girl from New York like me.  She played for the same AAU team as me. It was a really cool day and I really enjoyed it.


Kayla McBride (San Antonio Stars)

On the youth clinic:

We came out here and worked with the Navy women’s team and worked with the kids together. A lot of the kids were officers’ kids and they just wanted to meet us. So, it was good for us to come out and take a break from practice and all the anxiety about making the USA team, just hang out with them and see them smiling just because we’re around.

What did Sgt. Maj. Battaglia talk to you about this morning?

That we represent more than ourselves. That’s what USA Basketball is about and we knew that coming in from Day 1, but it’s nice to have someone with such high standard reiterate that. It’s an honor to have him here and be able to talk to us. It’s about representing something more. They represent our country and that’s what we’re doing. They just do it at a whole other level. It’s good to have him here and that energy that he brings.


Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream)

What did Sgt. Maj. Battaglia talk to you about this morning?

I really enjoyed his speech. He talked about discipline and moreso appreciating life. That’s what I got from it. It’s amazing because they all love what we do and it’s like no, ‘we love what you do.’ It’s kind of like a two way street. I was really appreciative to hear what he had to say and I’m just glad to be here in this environment.

How much does the military teamwork translate to basketball?

Discipline is one big part of it. The way they got into formation before lunch was amazing. I know there’s a lot of discipline in basketball, but I’m just really impressed by their discipline, what they do, how hard they work and coordinating everything they do. They each have their own groups that they’re affiliated with, kind of like a team, I think that a lot of the girls learned a lot from that. That’s what we have to do to win this gold medal: be coordinated and work together. So, I definitely took a lot from that.


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