Liberty assistant coach Brittany Campbell promises she'll understand exactly what it's like to be a Lady Flame. Just three months shy of wearing a Liberty uniform, Campbell became Carey Green's newest assistant, replacing Heather Stephens. Campbell is the first Lady Flame to be an assistant at her alma mater since Tiffany Ratcliff (1998-99).
We took the time to chat with Campbell, a four-year captain despite playing in a total of 64 games given way too many knee injuries that kept her sidelined much of the time.
Was coaching in your plan all along?
I'm finishing up my master's in counseling in August (Campbell already has her bachelor's in psychology). The entire time playing college basketball I always had coaches tell me, 'You should be a coach one day.' Well, I love people. I definitely love people and had an interest in counseling, but more and more people said, 'You should really think about getting into coaching.' I put a bug in coach Green's ear about a month after the season that I would love to coach with him one day, and that's how it came about. I was literally blown away when I heard Heather was leaving.
And the fact that your first coaching job is at Liberty ...
It definitely has been a dream. Playing at Liberty was my dream, but I never even thought that coaching there would be a possibility. Coach Green even told me this was my comfort zone and said I needed to go out and be more challenged. So I thought it was a long shot. I didn't think it would really happen.
Coach Green told me one of the reasons why he hired me was the way he saw me handle adversity -- how he saw me handle my injuries and how he saw me handle sitting out. There were so many years I didn't get to play. My understanding of the system and having the leadership skills that I did on my team allowed him to see it would be a good fit.
Talk about how you did handle the adversity that comes with multiple injuries.
I think the biggest part for me was understanding my role. When we started preseason practices when I was injured or couldn't play, I remember telling coach Green in his office, 'Coach, can you please give me a role? I want to have an impact.' He'd tell me, 'Brittany, you have a role. You're such a coach as a player.' He was constantly encouraging me in those aspects and giving me feedback. I'm the kind of person who needs to know I'm contributing. Coach Green helped me find my niche, and I made sure I was constantly in that encouragement role, and I made sure when I wasn't playing, I was in the game mentally.
Will it be hard to coach players you used to be teammates with?
Coach Green used to call me coach Campbell. We have six incoming freshmen, so they don't know me from Adam. So the returners might call me Brit or coach Brit. I'll be coach Brit, coach Cam, coach Campbell -- any one of those will work for me. It's a different role, but I was always older. I'm 23 and I was playing with girls who were freshmen and sophomores. That's cool, too, because they've always seen me as an older figure teammate.
I told the girls, 'This is a huge plus. I'm going to be able to advocate for you guys in a way that no one else has ever been able to because I was just there.' Just the other day we were talking about our fall running test and I was saying, 'Coach, last year we had this and I didn't like that!' He is really receptive because I was just there as a player.
Your thoughts on recruiting?
I've been out to North Carolina and then I'll go out to junior nationals in D.C. and then back down to North Carolina. It's cool to seek out such young talent and be able to share my story of Liberty with them. Recruiting has been fun so far, and I'm really excited for what it will be like.
What would you tell a potential Lady Flame?
Our environment is so distinct, so different. My personal experience as a player and a student can help sell Liberty to a potential recruit. But I talk about how infectious the environment is, how infectious Liberty women's basketball is; our standards, the values we have on our team and individually are just completely different from other teams. Our passion, our staff and coach Green and what a potential player can learn are just so, so valuable.
What do you consider your playing highlight?
Honestly, my highlight was my senior season and closing out the Big South championship (Campbell made the all-tournament team). That was the first Big South championship I was ever able to play in, which was a huge blessing.
What was important from your playing days that you will incorporate into your coaching style?
I'm such an encouragement person; I wanted more. As a player, I wanted to know that you were invested in me as a person. Heather Stephens was always that coach who asked about your personal life, how things are going. For me, I want to include that in my style of coaching. I want to make you better, but I'm concerned about your life, too.