At Vanderbilt there are two summer semesters, one beginning in early June and a second one in July. The NCAA allows basketball players to take two classes during the summer, which means they can either take one class in each of the two summer semesters or take two classes in one semester.
In the past, most returning players on the women's basketball took the June semester off and took two classes during the second semester when incoming freshmen enrolled for the first time.
But that has changed in recent years. This year, all the returning players returned to campus for the June semester and will remain on campus for the July semester, when the new players on the team will join them on campus.
One of the advantages of summer school is being able to work out together as a team. The basketball coaches aren't allowed to work with the student-athletes during summer, but a strength-and-conditioning coach is allowed to direct summer workouts.
Team workouts began last week when the June semester began. Summer days begin early for the players on the team. Workouts with Tasha Weddle, the team's strength-and-conditioning coach, begin at 6 a.m. every week day.
Most of the workouts take place in the Olympic Weight Room in the McGugin Center. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, the team lifts weights for an hour and a half. Tuesdays and Thursdays are for running, agility, team-building and other activities.
On Tuesdays there's a usually a change of scene as the workout moves outside to the turf of the football practice field behind McGugin.
Gabby Smith, Jasmine Lister, Stephanie Holzer
Stephanie Holzer and Clair Watkins
Gabby Smith and Clair Watkins
Sometimes the players use "Prowlers" in their workouts. Running with the Prowlers means pushing them with either the low handles or the higher posts, with weight discs added for strength or without them for speed.
Gabby Smith and Clair Watkins
After the morning workouts, it's time for the "student" part of "student-athlete". After some breakfast, they head off to morning classes.
Meanwhile, over at the gym summer basketball camp was in progress on Tuesday with recent graduate Rebecca Silinski as the "commissioner". Rebecca will the team's graduate assistant during the 2011-12 season and has already begun her graduate studies. After earning a master's at Vanderbilt, she'll begin law school next fall at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
Because the players on the team have morning classes, they aren't able to work the camps in the morning, but work as counselors at the camp during the afternoon.
Christina Foggie and Elan Brown
"Open gym" or "pickup" in the evenings is a key part of the summer's activities. That's the time when the players get together on the court. They're often joined by players from other area colleges.
Before the end of the spring semester, the coaches talk with players about what they need to work on during the summer. But once the spring semester is over, the NCAA doesn't allow the basketball coaches to do any coaching, so the players are on their own. Consequently, during open gym the players make all the decisions about what they're going to do. For example, if the coaches say, "We want you guards to work on mid-range jumpers," one day they might use a "no 3-pointers" rule for the pickup games.
When the new players come to campus in July, pickup provides an opportunity for the returning players to begin to show the newcomers the ropes so they'll have a head start before practices begin in the fall. .
Elan Brown and Tiffany Clarke
Redshirt freshman Clair Watkins is rehabbing from a torn ACL she suffered last fall. She says her rehab is going very well, but she hasn't yet been cleared for games, so she can't yet participate in pickup. She's hopeful that she'll be cleared to play by July.
Christina Foggie and Jasmine Lister
Gabby Smith and Tiffany Clarke
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Photos copyright 2011 by Whitney D for VandyMania.com.