Q&A with Maryland women's basketball coach Brenda Frese

Q: I've asked this question of many athletes after World Series and other big events. Does winning it make you want to win it again more?

A: I want to win it as much as we can for the players and for the coaches. To be on this staff and only have my trainer and I [as] the only two that have experienced that feeling. I want it for everybody else. To know when you line up together as a unit, some special things can happen. So, absolutely, for selfish reasons, for everybody else, I'd love to have it happen as much as we can.

Q: [Men's coach Gary Williams] won one a few years earlier. You won one. When you raise the bar to that level, does it change everything from a program standpoint? The expectations going forward?

A: Oh, yes. The expectations are always extremely high. You know, anytime you've won a national championship or an ACC championship, you've set pretty much an unrealistic bar. When you have a season where you drop off, people don't understand because of the expectations. I would rather have it that way. That's why I came to Maryland. Athletic director Debbie Yow's vision was that our program and our athletic department should be top 10 in everything we do. I love when people have high goals because that's what you want to be a part of.

Q: Now, do you reflect much on that season, or are you one of those people that every year is a new year and you're always looking forward?

A: I reflect more on that season through pictures with players that come back, but those memories are always going to be etched in your mind. As far as new teams and new seasons, I'm always in the now and in the present, and wanting to make this group — this 2010-2011 season — as good as we can possibly make it.

Q: Here are a couple of short-answer questions: What's the best thing about coaching?

A: The best thing about coaching is the players. They keep you young, and you get to be a part of their life every single day and you're making a difference.

Q: What's the worst thing about coaching?

A: The worst thing about coaching is sometimes the demands on your time take you away from your family, so you spend more time outside of your family, missing those milestones when you have small children growing up. So you kind of want to be in both places at one time.

Q: It's apparent that you've always been kind of a techie when it comes to being a coach — that you were one of the first people who texted recruits. And you also seem like a fairly enthusiastic tweeter. I don't know of too many coaches who tweet. How does that help the program? How does that mesh with what you're doing otherwise?

A: I think it's critical that you're able to relate to your players. You have to be able to understand their world. Their world is techy, you know, it's the text messaging and Skype and being able to be on Twitter and Facebook and all those things. I want to be ahead of the curve or understand as much as possible in their world so I don't lose the ability to be able to communicate with them.

Q: You were doing the texting part before the NCAA started putting restrictions on it. Were you surprised they went to the extent of restricting text messaging?

A: I can understand it, once it got to a point that it [was] becoming intrusive to a student-athlete's day when they were sitting in classes and the amount of pressure that was being placed on them. I think it totally makes sense.

Q: One of the things you have done throughout your career is put an emphasis on your team being a family, and, in a sense, you've also integrated your own family into the team at times. Is that unusual from your experience with what other coaches do, or is that just your personality and that's the way you're going to do things?

A: I can't really speak for other coaches. I just know I always have to be true to me and who I am. I was raised in a big family. Four other sisters and a brother. It was all about family when we went through every single day. I just look at our program. We bring all these players from all over the U.S. and from other countries. We have a young lady from London and France. We bring them here, and they sacrifice four to five years. What an opportunity to be an extension of their family and for them to feel that comfort level day-in and day-out as they are starting to develop as young people.

Q: Now, you were doing this before you had kids. Now you have your own children. That's 14 girls who, in a sense, are daughter figures. You're going to hear their problems. How much of your time is spent with that part of it?

A: I think a lot of our time is spent with the psyche, building up and helping young women be as confident as they can be. Not only myself, but my entire staff is really tuned into our players, whether they are having a tough day or are having a situation go on, because it's going to impact them on the court if their mind isn't where it needs to be. We do a really good job in terms of our communication as a staff, being able to help our young players each and every day.

Q: Obviously, it was a big story on media day when you announced that Tyler has leukemia. I can't even imagine … I have kids, but they are grown … I can't even imagine getting that news. How traumatic was being told that for you and your husband, and can you give me a sense of that next 24 hours for your family?

A: It still brings tears to my eyes to think of that moment … by far one of the most horrific moments that I've ever been through in my life. I was actually out on the road recruiting. I had a great day recruiting and was driving back to the hotel at night, and my husband called and asked me if I was driving and told me to pull over. And, I think, like all parents when you hear the word leukemia and cancer, you go into an instant mode of like, how long does your child have to live, and you kind of go worst-case scenario with it. But once you educate yourself and have a better understanding, you can change your outlook and your perspective and it's all about education. It was actually probably a blessing in disguise [that] I couldn't get home that night with the flight with where I was at until the next morning because it was almost like I needed to get myself together before I could go and be that strength for my son. So I got on the plane the next morning, got right to the hospital, my son went into his surgical procedure to have a port put into his chest and chemotherapy and bone marrow and spinal tap taken. From there on, it's been nothing from us but positive, confident thoughts and energy for our son Tyler. Day by day, things are going really well.

 

PHOTO GALLERIES

TRACKING THE TERPS