Hear the Conversation 17:14 – 9.9 mb mp3
The summer is time for Merchant to reflect on the season and where she wants to take her program, she says. She reaches out to converse and brainstorm with her fellow Spartan coaches across the entire Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and with coaches around the country with whom she enjoys close relationships. And she can spend more time with her players in the spring and summer.
“The time I get with my players is what I value most and what got me into coaching in the first place,” Merchant says. “It’s nice to have extra time with them that doesn’t involve basketball to enhance our relationships.
“As a coach I have to figure out what makes my players tick and what language they speak and then push the right buttons to make them click together in order for us to succeed.”
Merchant says she spends a lot of time coaching “neck up” and that “a lot of kids come in here with the skills and the talent, but they don’t really have the mental toughness to be a winner at this level. It’s fun to watch kids go through that struggle because it’s always worth it in the end.
“They don’t know what they don’t know when they get here. They think they do and then they get through the season and say ‘wow, that was intense.’ Then to see them fight through it and lead us to a Big Ten championship is special.”