Tuesday, December 7, 2010

An Exciting Visit from Dusty Baker!

Our team was incredibly fortunate to get to hear from legendary major league manager Dusty Baker before we took the court against Sacramento State last week.

He is an inspiration and a role model for all athletes and coaches! We were lucky to get advice from one of the all-time greats. In the end, as with most things in life, obtaining success on and off the court comes down to preparation, persistence, and hard work.

As a major leaguer, Dusty hit nearly 250 home runs and had more than 1,000 RBIs. His Dodgers won the World Series in 1981. And as a manager, Dusty has won more than 1,400 games in his career. He led the 2002 San Francisco Giants to the National League pennant, and last year his Cincinnati Reds won the NL Central division. He definitely knows what he's talking about!!

Here are a few photos from the pre-game visit.

Now we're getting ready to travel to Logan, Utah, to play Utah State on Wednesday.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hitting the Road with USF for Thanksgiving

We recently returned from Albuquerque, New Mexico, where we played in a Thanksgiving tournament. We had to travel on Thanksgiving — tough to be away from family for staff and players, but thankfully we get along so well that is was a pleasure to spend the day with them.

Boston Market catered our meal, which was ready when we arrived at our hotel. After saying what we were all thankful for, we got into a heated game of Guesstures. We divided into 3 teams — Staff, Freshman and Sophomores, and Juniors and Seniors. Unfortunately, we placed last! Juniors and Seniors won. They are quite a competitive group!

On the court, our first game against New Mexico didn’t go too well for us. NM is a really good team and very well coached. Thankfully, we had a chance to redeem ourselves the next night against Rhode Island. We were down 4 points with about 12 minutes to go in the second half, but we were able to outlast Rhode Island in the final 11 minutes of the game. I was really proud of my team’s effort and composure to never give up and do a great job executing down the stretch.

Albuquerque is at 5,400 feet above sea level. Part of what helped our team’s performance was having a strong conditioning base, and drinking a lot of water as we traveled and staying hydrated all three days. As a coach, it can be tough to keep up with my own workouts, but I was able to get in a run while we were on the road and I ran as soon as we landed in San Francisco.

I feel much more effective and energetic as a coach when I also take care of my health. I also take USANA everyday, everywhere I go. Health and conditioning will continue to be an emphasis for our team and our program at USF.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tough Loss, But Continuing to Move Forward

Unfortunately we lost our last game in Fullerton. We had a chance to tie the game at the end, but missed the front end of a one-and-one. I was proud of how hard we played in the second half, but we have a lot of work to do to continue developing team chemistry.

For those of you who are not familiar with college athletics, we don’t have a lot of time to coach the team until early October, so we use our preseason to try different combinations of players and continue to teach the game. Our goal for this season is to continue to change the culture at USF and work hard to improve.

Health is a huge priority for me as a coach. I hope the young women leave our program with a great understanding of how to apply what they learn here to being healthy, competent young women when they graduate.

Here is a video of an interview I did with GameDay on KPIX-TV, the CBS affiliate in San Francisco:

Monday, November 15, 2010

Getting the Season Started!

Whew... the last little while has been very, very busy but I'm loving it! As most of you know, this is my first year as the University of San Francisco women's basketball coach. I've spent the past several months preparing for the start of the season, which tipped off on Friday.

It's been so much fun getting to know these incredible players and getting them ready to compete against some tough teams (here's a quick interview I did with Gary Radnich of KRON 4). I'm really looking forward to the rest of the season.

Being a coach, I've learned, is more than just instructing on the court — it's about teaching these players to live a healthy lifestyle off the court as well. So far, with the help of USANA, we're heading in the right direction.

Tonight we are at home against San Jose State. I encourage members of the USANA family in the Bay Area to come to the game and see these amazing athletes. Plus, as part of the West Coast Conference's "Be a Part of It" program we are conducting a "Fitness Day."

After the game I will be speaking briefly with Rosie Bank, a certified nutrition and wellness consultant, about fitness and nutrition (and I'm sure we'll talk a little about USANA).

Monday, October 11, 2010

Visiting the Kids of Northern Light School

My team at USF and I visited the Northern Light School in Oakland recently. We had an incredible experience with the kids! They sang to us, we danced in their “circle” and we laughed and cried! It was an emotional experience to feel the love and gratitude at the school.

Many of the kids don’t know their parents, but Northern Light provides them with hope and a chance at a successful life. The school is K-8th grade, but they have a 98% graduation rate from college!

They boast a Navy Seal, Doctors, Teachers, Lawyers, and amazing young graduates who are making the world a better place as they fulfill their dreams! We left completely inspired and hopeful about our own lives. Thank you Northern Light!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Leading a WNBA Fit Clinic

I was asked to lead a WNBA fit clinic with Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird. Health and fitness is a huge initiative for the WNBA as well as our program at USF. We all have an amazing platform to inspire youth to be healthy and active!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Best Ever USANA Convention!

The USANA International Convention was the best ever! Every year it feels like a big family reunion. This year I was particularly moved by the 40 associates who climbed Mt. Everest. They were led by Werner Berger, USANA Silver Director and the oldest North American to climb the seven summits. The age range was 18 to 84! Associate Edna Northrup, 84, was the oldest woman to make the climb — breaking a world record!!

Could they have done this without USANA?? They each talked about their reasons and motivation for the climb. Collete Larsen's motivation was to feel what her daughter, who has CF, feels when she is in severe oxygen debt. The stories were all so inspirational — I could not hold back the tears!

Saturday morning we had our annual Children's Hunger Fund 5K. Associates raised over $125,000 for CHF! It was a perfectly gorgeous morning for the thousands of associates who ran with us! Derek Parra is a machine!! I was happy to run and feel great!

As for my part, I was the host of the Athletes segment. I was particularly impressed with the testimonial of Liezel Huber, the No. 1 doubles tennis player in the world. She credits USANA with her rise to the top! Health really is the foundation for sports performance and it is such a pleasure to be able to share the message of true health that USANA provides.

As I begin my coaching career at USF, USANA provides a wonderful partnership for health! Thank you Dave Wentz for all that you do to make USANA the best!!

An Incredible Event for a Great Cause!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Couple of Photos From Yesterday

Naomi Priestley, Jason Priestley, Kathy Kaehler, Ashlan Gorse, and Dan Macuga

With E! News Correspondent Ashlan Gorse

Jason and Naomi Priestley

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What an Experience at the White House!

I was invited to the White House to lead a clinic on behalf of Michelle Obama’s initiative, “Let’s Move,” WNBA Fit, and the Phoenix Mercury. Prior to the clinic, we did a tour of the White House. Following the tour we were greeted by President Obama to honor the Mercury for their WNBA Championship.

After he spoke, he walked over and shook my hand. (Admittedly, my heart was racing a bit...well..a lot) I said, “Hello, I am Jennifer Azzi.” He said, “Jennifer, I know who you are, congratulations.” What?? I was shocked...blew me away! I guess he really is a basketball fan...and he is extremely respectful and complementary of the women’s game.

We talked briefly and then he greeted more people. He has such a kindness, and sincerity about him. And he is one of the most charismatic people I have ever met. What an amazing experience!

Following our meeting with President Obama, we went out to the White House Basketball Court for our clinic. The court is really special, very private, surrounded by lush greenery and a 15-foot fence. This is the place where President Obama, an avid basketball player, shoots hoops. The ball rack is full of balls with his name branded on them.

The players from the Mercury and I worked with 40 boys and girls from a local Y. We were the first ever public event on the White House Basketball Court! In spite of extreme heat and humidity, the clinic was amazing! The kids will never forget being on the White House Court — not many people can say they have had that experience... It was a very special day for all.

Diana Taurasi and Renee Brown

Members of the WNBA Champion Phoenix Mercury

Sunday, July 11, 2010

WNBA Cares in Connecticut

Donna Orender, right, and the WNBA All-Stars

I hosted a WNBA Cares Fit event with several WNBA All-Stars and Olympians at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.

A big part of the WNBA Cares mission is to help teach and educate kids to be healthy and active. I also had the opportunity to watch our next Olympians practice. The level of play and talent is outstanding!

Geno Auriemma, head coach University of Connecticut and Olympic team coach

Geno Auriemma, UCONN’s head coach, is our Olympic team’s head coach as well. I like his intensity and his teaching style with the players. As I prepare for next season coaching my team at USF, it is invaluable to learn from the great coaches around the country.

July is recruiting month and most coaches, including myself, are out nearly 20 days this month watching tournaments all over the country. We were recruiting at a huge tournament, End of The Trail, in Portland prior to my quick time out with WNBA All-Star.

Now it’s back to recruiting in Chicago! As I watch the young women compete in hopes of getting a college scholarship, I am so grateful that women have these kinds of opportunities to fulfill their dreams.

It was not that long ago that women did not have opportunities like this....

Jayne Appel, WNBA All-Star from Stanford

Tamika Catchings, WNBA All-Star and Olympian

Teresa Edwards, 5-time Olympian

Friday, July 9, 2010

Be Your Best!

We just finished a week of the 3rd Annual Azzi Camp in Mill Valley (here's a post from last year's event). We had 115 boys and girls. It was a blast! Our staff was outstanding and the kids were tremendous!

I hope they all left loving basketball and having a desire to, as our motto states, “Be Your Best.” I feel lucky to live in a community where kids are very active and there is so much support for our public schools.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Always Dream

Randy Hahn, voice of the San Jose Sharks, and television anchor Roberta Gonzales

I was one of the guests at Kristi Yamaguchi’s Always Dream Foundation fundraiser featuring many of the “Dancing with the Stars” champions. The mission of the Always Dream Foundation is simple — to give underprivileged children the tools they need to fulfill their dreams.

When Kristi’s husband, former NHL star Brett Hedigan, asked me to participate, he said it would be my favorite event of the year. I must say he was right! What a wonderful event! Be sure to check it out at: http://www.alwaysdream.org/

Don Blue and Kristi Yamaguchi

There were so many amazing dancers and stars! I was sitting with Peggy Flemming and her husband — what fabulous people! Everyone was very supportive of my team at USF. Many people said they were excited to come to our games this season. It is so encouraging to be around people like Kristi and Brett who have used their success to truly make the world a better place.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

San Francisco Chronicle Goes 'Behind the Scenes'

Susan Slusser from the San Francisco Chronicle followed me for a day as I am beginning as Head Coach at the University of San Francisco (here is the article). The team is gone now, so most of our focus is recruiting, organizing, camps, and the details of laying the foundation for success.

Susan wanted an inside look at what the process is like “behind the scenes” for a new coach in college athletics. There are a lot of moving parts!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Throwing the First Pitch at a Giants Game!

I had the opportunity to represent USF and USANA as an Olympian at the Giants game. It was a Northern California Olympians tribute and a I threw out the first pitch at the Giants vs. Rockies game. It was a lot of fun!

I must say it’s more nerve-racking to do that than to shoot a free throw with two seconds left and the team is down by one! I guess you are only good at what you practice!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Having a Blast at USANA's AP Convention!

The first session in Hong Kong was awesome! 6,000 Associates! I was sitting next to Werner Berger. He and nearly 40 other USANA Associates, including Collette Larsen, literally just flew in from climbing Mt. Everest! He told me that normally 30-40% of climbers don't make it due to fatigue. But not this group. All of them made it! Go USANA! I am seriously impressed!

Collette Larsen

Werner Berger

People her are so kind and extremely passionate about USANA! The energy is outstanding — I have had a very warm welcome from the Associates. I spoke this morning and will be going back to listen to the other speakers this afternoon and tomorrow. So far this is a fabulous convention!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Golfing at Pebble Beach

I golfed at Pebble Beach in the annual fundraiser for All-Stars Helping Kids. It was a fabulous event! I have been very buys at USF with my team, but I was able to keep my commitment to play in one of my favorite events of the year!

Pebble Beach is one of the most beautiful places on earth! I am not much of a golfer, but I am learning and was thrilled to be paired with Cindy Reid, one of the top golf pros in the world. I was a bit intimidated at first, but she has such a gift for teaching!! I may have improved in one day...

The rest of our foursome was Olympic gold medalist Brandi Chastain (who is quite the golfer!!) and actor Grant Show (another amazing golfer!!) We had a blast together. They were so much fun to be around — everyone was so positive.

Another highlight for me was to see USANA have a presence at the tournament. Joe Wentz was at one of the holes handing out Nutrimeal and BlenderBottles®, as well as much needed Rev3! So many people were asking me about USANA, so I was able to share more about the products and the company with a lot of people at the event. Each of the celebrity athletes, including Joe Montana, received a MyHealthPak in their care packages. Go USANA!