Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What former Lady Monarch Vicki Collier is doing in a Virginia Union uniform

Did you catch the name in the Norfolk State/Virginia Union box score on Saturday night? Remember about a year ago when we told you that former Old Dominion guard Vicki Collier was an assistant coach to her mother, Barvenia Wooten-Cherry, at Virginia Union?

Vicki's not coaching anymore. She's playing -- wearing No. 13 for her mother's alma mater.

"We talked about it and I decided I might as well take advantage and play because I did not get the opportunity to play for my full four years," said Collier, Virginia Union's leading scorer, averaging 15.8 ppg and 10.8 rpg through four games. "So I said, 'Why not?' It's working out for me."

Vicki had eligibility left when she left ODU and could possibly get another year if she chooses to appeal the NCAA.

ODU fans are familiar with Vicki's trying career as a Lady Monarch. The combination of a redshirt season, a dislocated kneecap, and an MCL sprain followed by an ACL tear derailed a career she expected to begin in 2006. That's the year the Top 10 adidas All-American, a state high jump champion and MVP of the volleyball team, graduated from Riverdale Baptist High School in Upper Marlboro, Md.

Vicki didn't get into her first game as a Lady Monarch until December 2008, and by February she was sidelined again with meniscus trouble.

Her knees are sore these days after games, and a brace rides up her right leg. And playing in the CIAA doesn't afford the same luxuries as the CAA. There is no Paradise Jam on the schedule and the Panthers' home, Barco-Stevens Hall, is no match for the Constant Center. James Madison is no longer her team's rival; instead it's Virginia State.

"But it's really not that big of a difference to me," Vicki said. "Basketball is basketball. It doesn't matter what league you're playing in.

"We don't do the big trips, but we stay overnight in hotels. It might not be as far away as California. At the end of the day, you're still playing basketball."

And as far as a rival ...

"A rival is a rival," she said.

Last year's stint as an assistant has helped her improve her game, Vicki said.

"Going from playing to coaching back to playing, you remember what you told them to do," she said. "You remember what you used to say."

Vicki was part of the glory years at ODU, when the Lady Monarchs didn't lose in the CAA Tournament. Virginia Union is still finding its way under Wooten-Cherry, now in her second year and determined to build a program. (As a player, Wooten-Cherry led the Panthers to the Division II national championship in 1983.) Eight of the 12 Panthers are freshmen, but Vicki -- who had 22 points and 16 boards in a loss to North Carolina A&T -- sees a title as a possibility this season.

"Honestly, a championship is a championship. Getting that ring is what's important. That is our goal."

As for playing for Mom, that's old hat. Wooten-Cherry regularly coached Vicki in AAU ball. That means Vicki has the inside track on the best impression of Mom among her teammates.

"Sometimes I'm doing it and don't even know I'm doing it," Vicki said with a laugh. "She says, 'Be mindful' all the time. 'Be mindful. Be mindful.' "

Vicki is mindful of the joy of playing, and is hoping to pursue an international career, even if it's just for one year. "I'm going to play basketball until the doctor says, 'Sit down, Vicki. And don't play anymore,' " she said.

 But coaching? You probably won't see her doing that again. She graduated as an accounting major from ODU and is currently seeking a second degree in finance at Virginia Union.

"I' never saw myself as a coach," she said. "When I think about coaching, it takes patience. And I just don't have that."

No comments:

Post a Comment