Whalen Learning How to Balance Life as a Player and Coach

Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday was a busy day for Lindsay Whalen.

The Minnesota Lynx point guard kicked off the day at the University of Minnesota, her new — yet old — home as the head coach of the Gophers’ women’s basketball team.

Whalen then made the drive over to The Courts at Mayo Clinic Square and the Lynx practice facility, where she kicked off the 15th training camp of her decorated WNBA career.

Once practice ended and Whalen met with the media, she ended up changing hats once again, getting ready to go have dinner with a recruit in hopes of having that player join Whalen’s squad with the Gophers.

Such is the new, busy life for Whalen, who will attempt to play in the WNBA and be a Big Ten head coach at the same time in 2018.

We didn’t practice until 2 p.m. [Sunday], so it was nice to have the first six hours of the day to get a lot of stuff done at home and then I went over to the office (at the University of Minnesota) quick and then I came over here. It was nice,” Whalen said. “We practice every day at 11 a.m., so it’ll obviously be a different routine. I’m looking forward to figuring out what that is. And a lot of it is time management and prioritizing.

“Every great leader knows how to ask for help and let different people do different tasks and what not. So that’ll be a big thing for me is having a great staff and understanding that they are very capable and they know what they’re doing and then working together.”

Being both a player and a coach will understandably be busy for Whalen, considering each job is full-time in itself. So far on the playing side of things, her teammates haven’t noticed any changes with training camp now underway.

It was kind of funny (Sunday), she was all jazzed up and had her nice little outfit on. She was like ‘I got a recruit coming in today’ and I was like ‘OK coach Wheezy,'” Seimone Augustus said. “Then you see her on the floor and it is straight intensity, and was the Lindsay Whalen that we know and the point guard that has been leading us on championship runs. It was kind of funny, but it’s the same person.”

As many have witnessed during her playing career, Whalen has already been a coach on the floor, helping organize and lead her teams on numerous occasions.

Those traits will remain for Whalen as a player, but she admitted she may now be looking more closely at situations through the eyes of a head coach, even bouncing ideas and learning from Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve throughout the year.

“I’ll talk to her probably every day,” Whalen said of Reeve. “Who better to talk to about everything than a world class coach like her?”

Whalen has had the opportunity to be around a lot of legendary head coaches in her playing career. In addition to Reeve, she’s played for Washington Mystics head coach Mike Thibault, who coached Whalen in Connecticut, and Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma, who coached Whalen with Team USA.

When asked what she has learned specifically from Reeve in her career, Whalen said she didn’t “even know where to start.”

Just the way she prepares, the way she conducts herself, how she has us ready for every game, how she always has a consistent message to her team, the plays that she runs, and the confidence she instills in us as players. That’s a big thing,” Whalen told Zone Coverage. “I want to instill that in the players with the Gophers. I want them to have confidence. I want them to be able to go out there and make plays and not be afraid to make mistakes.

“(Reeve) gives us all that freedom. I’ve learned from her for eight years and I’ll continue doing that. I’ll be watching her and trying to learn as much as possible this season for sure.”

Sunday was a busy day for Whalen, but it’s slowly starting to grow into a lifestyle that the Lynx point guard and Gophers head coach will come to expect in 2018.


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