Women's Basketball

BasketBlog: Now They Call Me Coach

Aug. 17, 2007

Hey Fans!

I just wanted to say hello to the Notre Dame family and let you know how excited I am to be back and to be able to represent the Irish again. I know that I am representing in a different capacity, but I will bring the same amount of focus, energy, and passion that I gave as a player here. Just to recap my life since May, I will try my best to capture most of my moments. It has been such a blur and life changing experience for me. I will never forget May 4 because that is when Coach McGraw called my cell phone. I was a little startled because hours before, I was going crazy about Coquese Washington's new position at Penn State. I remember thinking that it was odd to have Muffet call me out of the blue that day. I guess I never imagined what that our conversation would involve me being a part of the coaching staff back at Notre Dame. You probably can imagine how much joy I had after I spoke with Muffet.

At that time in my life, I was transitioning from playing as a professional athlete to the real world. I was an administrative assistant at Xavier. It was a very challenging time in my life, but in retrospect it was just preparing me for what was in store here at Notre Dame. I spoke with Muffet and she expressed her interest in me applying for the new position that was available from Coquese's departure. I was shocked. I was thinking about playing overseas, but I was also recovering from another knee surgery and I knew that this position was the best thing for me right now. It was a dream and an opportunity that I was blessed to have. Immediately, everything was arranged for me to come back, I interviewed, it went great, and now I am writing you from my Notre Dame office. It happened just that quickly.

Walking back to the Joyce Center, I felt overwhelmed with emotion. I was back at the place with Muffet McGraw, the person that believed in me, and with my Notre Dame family that embraced me through the injuries and celebrated with me through the victories. It truly was another dream come true. You never realize that the people that you come in contact with in college and the relationships that you build will carry on such a profound capacity, as have my relationship with Muffet and my Notre Dame family has.

Relocation has been the hardest adjustment. As you all know, I have a 5 year old son now, Jaden. He is awesome and I'm sure you will see him at the games or hear him. He loves sports and falls in love with the girls that I coach and that I play with. He is rather cute if I have to say so myself!!!! You all will love him. He is going to kindergarten this year, and I am really excited that he is taking that big step in his life.

Since being on the job, I have indulged myself in 3 weeks of camps and recruiting. I helped out at our team camp, high intensity camp, developmental camp, day camp, and my very own point guard camp. I was a little nervous because I had over 130 girls at camp. It was a record number for the guards so that was exciting. The days were long, but I had a lot of fun.

July was a complete blur. I had a week to prepare for the grueling 3 week recruiting schedule. Oh by the way, I had to take the recruiting test and passed!! I was extremely nervous about that test, but I did it. My first trip out was to Cincinnati for the 16 and under USJN tournament. I was familiar with Cincinnati so that trip was fun. It was also a good time for me to finish up real estate issues and visit with my best friend, Tish McGuff. It took a while for me to get ready for some reason. I packed 2 huge bags. The first thing Muffet asked me was, "Where in the world are you going with all of those bags?" She just shook her head and laughed. I traveled to Portland, then to Seattle. Seattle was my first trip that I was on my own. I wasn't familiar with the area so I really depended on my GPS system. That is one of the best things ever made. Forget an IPod or IPhone, a GPS is where it's at!!! I developed a special relationship with my GPS system. I no longer go anywhere without it.

For some reason, when I woke up in Seattle to get ready to head over to the University of Washington arena, I thought the address was correct. I was wrong. I put the wrong address in and it sent me to the University of Washington museum. I drove for a half hour to the wrong site. Luckily, I left early enough to figure out that I was at the wrong place. I had to laugh at myself because I knew I was going to eventually mess up. I was just happy that I didn't miss the game!

After Seattle, I went home to visit Jaden for a couple of days and then headed to Chicago. Over the course of the tournaments, I ran into many familiar faces. I was in Cincinnati with our very own, Coquese Washington and Carol Owens. That was awesome because they really helped me with recruiting tips and just made me feel confident and comfortable being on the road representing our great University. I also saw Kevin McGuff while being on the road and that was good because I had previously worked for him for 2 years while at Xavier. It was kind of weird being on the other side and now recruiting against him!!

Then, after Chicago I traveled home to South Bend for the week of the dead period in the middle of July. I had the opportunity to meet up with one of my good friends and roommate from college, too. That was so much fun and great to take my mind off the hustle and bustle of recruiting. I had the luxury of driving Muffet's car over some of the terrible choices of rental cars I have been given. I think because I am a rookie coach, the rental places decided to give me the worst car on the lot. In Seattle, I received the top of the line Subaru Outback wagon. Then in Chicago, I received a PT Cruiser!! Now, don't get me wrong. I am very thankful for my job and for the opportunity to travel and receive free rentals, but enough is enough. Half of the time, my boss doesn't want to ride with me to the gym sites, and if she does we have to park in the back of the parking lot!! LOL

Now, in the second half of July, I felt very confident and aware more of what to do and what to expect. I traveled to Washington, DC for the first part of my week to recruit. I had the opportunity to watch many games on one of my favorite recruits!! I can't mention her name, but let me just tell you that I think she is amazing and I am working hard to bring her here!! Muffet met up with me in DC, and then I had a day off to spend with Jaden back in St. Louis. I always love taking those trips home to see him. It is always so hard to leave him, but I know that what I do is for us so it makes me put my life in perspective. He is getting old enough to realize what I do and is very adaptable to my schedule which is a blessing. So everything has been really smooth thus far, but now is where the drama starts. On that Thursday, I traveled to Roanoke, VA, from St. Louis early in the morning to watch the 14 and under AAU tournament. I was delayed the whole day in Chicago and didn't make it to Virginia till 8:30 pm. I had to turn around the next day to go to Augusta, GA, for my final tournament at Nike Nationals without my bag. I didn't receive my bag till late Saturday evening. I had to buy clothes at Target while India, our secretary, sent more Notre Dame Apparel. Other people might have panicked, but I didn't. I just patiently waited and made do with the things that I did have with me. Muffet told me early in July not to "over pack", but as with life, I had to learn the hard way. I had my own lesson in packing 101!!

However, I made it back safe to South Bend after a very full month of recruiting in one piece. Also, Jaden and my parents returned to South Bend that same week and, I was so happy to see them. We have been bonding as much as possible and getting our rest. On Saturday, I joined Stephanie, Muffet, and the WNDU-TV family outside in the WNDU parking lot to help with their "16 Pack-A-Backpack" drive. That was a lot of fun, and good to help with the giving of school supplies to family and children in need. I love to help in any way that I can to the community. It was a success with coffee, smoothies and the voice of Digger Phelps in the background. It was a great turnout and great to see so many people in the community helping those in need. So, like I said before, I am extremely anxious and excited to see you all and to get to work on helping our team be a huge success. We have most of the pieces of the puzzle here, but we always need you - the fans -- to help make this 2007-2008 season the best it can be. Have a great rest of the summer and be safe. Thanks for listening and of course, GO IRISH!!!!

Love ya,
Niele Ivey



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