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Oklahoma women's basketball: Navy SEALS put Sooners through tough drills

Sooners coach Sherri Coale notices a huge change in the team's ability to focus
By Stephanie Kuzydym Published: October 15, 2012
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photo - NCAA TOURNAMENT / OU WOMEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale encourages her team during a first round game of the NCAA women's basketball tournament between the University of Oklahoma Sooners and the Michigan Wolverines at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla., Sunday, March 18, 2012. Oklahoma won 88-67. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
NCAA TOURNAMENT / OU WOMEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale encourages her team during a first round game of the NCAA women's basketball tournament between the University of Oklahoma Sooners and the Michigan Wolverines at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla., Sunday, March 18, 2012. Oklahoma won 88-67. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

NORMAN — It was wet. It was cold. It was brutal.

Far from the warmth and coziness of their beds, the Oklahoma women's basketball team recently went through a rigorous training program from some Navy SEALS. The program, which isn't available to the public, was used by many Olympians to prepare them psychologically for the Olympics.

Senior Whitney Hand said they remained in the push-up position for an hour. Junior Aaryn Ellenberg said they lifted a log to their neck. They couldn't let it drop.

“I was out there watching it, and I was just glad I had a sweatshirt on,” OU women's basketball coach Sherri Coale said. “So much of it reinforced the lessons that we try to teach all the time that toughness is about a mindset.”

This year's mindset is based on the team's theme: the 12 inches in front of you.

Senior Whitney Hand said it really taught her how to be in the moment.

“If you thought ahead and you thought about how cold you were and how miserable you were and how much you just wanted to lay in your bed, then you weren't going to make it,” Hand said.

Coale saw a huge change in the team's ability to focus. She also saw a change in conditioning and what the team now considered “the hardest thing.”

“It just sort of changed their mindset and their idea of where their personal ceiling was,” Coale said.

IT'S TIME TO CAMPUS DIVE

Coale said it was important for her team to understand the culture of the campus that they represent, so she started a new adventure called Campus Dive.

The team will have four “dives” around the campus. The first was to the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, where they took a personal tour.

“There's so many fantastic things that the University of Oklahoma offers,” Coale said. “Sometimes for student-athletes ... you have so many responsibilities that sometimes you don't get outside and get the benefits of all those things that our university offers.”

Ellenberg already knew about the museum because she works in the art department but said the personal tour really gave a different look.

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