Oct. 8, 2012
By Matt Park -
Calamity McEntire enters her first year as an assistant coach for the Arizona women’s basketball team. She brings loads of experience ranging from playing, coaching, and recruiting.
This upcoming season will be McEntire’s ninth season in teaching and helping college players. In those eight years, 18 of coach McEntire’s players received a combined total of 34 academic all-conference honors.
Her success on the court is also impressive; she has helped coach six winning seasons in the past eight years. Before joining the Wildcats, McEntire helped the Fresno State women’s basketball team advance to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. At Boise State, she recruited five players that made the conference all-freshmen team.
Born and raised in Kiowa, Okla., McEntire grew up as a student of the game. She played forward at Eastern Oklahoma State University for two seasons and helped the Mountaineers to a Region II championship. McEntire’s passion for basketball inspired her to pursue a career dedicated to helping young players.
“When I figured out I wanted to be a coach, my family just told me, ‘why don’t you go work for coach (Pat) Summitt,’” McEntire recalled. “And I just said, ‘wow, it’s not that easy.’”
But in 2001, McEntire’s dream became reality when Summitt offered McEntire a job at the Pat Summitt Summer Basketball Camp which led to her being a student manager for the Lady Vols.
“The opportunity that she gave me got me where I am today,” McEntire said. “She gave me an opportunity to get my degree and to learn from her and her staff which provided me the opportunity to get into this business.”
During her years with Summitt, McEntire learned the confidence, work ethic and attitude that created a successful coach. But most importantly, she learned why playing for coach Summitt was so special.
“She is a great teacher of the game and of life,” McEntire said. “She does a tremendous job of using basketball as a vehicle for life. What you learn on the court, you got to carry over into every day situations.”
At Arizona, McEntire applies the same philosophy to her coaching.
“I talk to players all the time about how certain situations are going to come up on the court and you are going to want to quit; it’s just going to be tough,” McEntire said. “But the reality is, when you are in a relationship down the line, or if you ever become a mother, those situations are going to be tough and you can’t just quit. This situation on the court goes way beyond the moment.”
Junior Kama Griffitts is one of five players who McEntire serves as a coach and academic advisor. Griffitts has already experienced McEntire’s ability to be a coach of basketball and life.
“Already we been through challenges in basketball, she definitely helps me to be encouraged and be strong,” Griffitts said. “She coaches us to keep going and not quit.”
When McEntire talks to her players about basketball and life, she aims to transfer the influence that basketball has given her. Playing the game taught her the concept of team, the importance of trust and communication and building relationships that she still cherishes today.
“Basketball teaches you how to be a great teammate,” McEntire said. “You are going to have friendships and relationships. Honestly, that’s why I coach. I do love the game of basketball, and I’m competitive to the hilt. I love to win, but for me, coaching is about helping the players.”
After one more week of preseason workouts, the 2012-13 Arizona squad will begin practice to prepare for its home-opener on Nov. 5. With McEntire on the sidelines, the team is guaranteed to put its best foot forward and step into leadership roles both on and off the court.