Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Talking with Wendy Larry, inductee for the ODU Hall of Fame

Every time Wendy Larry plays the Old Dominion reel, she sees another face.

Her glorious career, which included taking the Lady Monarchs to the national championship in 1997, winning 17 CAA Tournament championships as head coach and amassing 608 victories for her alma mater, will be celebrated Nov. 8 when the New Jersey native will be inducted into the school's Hall of Fame.

Speaking from her Atlantic 10 office in Newport News, where today she is associate commissioner for women's basketball and championship director for softball, Larry acknowledges all the support she got along the way to her career milestones.

"Individuals make plays and teams win championships, so I am inviting every single person who had anything to do with my career at Old Dominion to come to breakfast," Larry said. "It is a village, isn't it?"

Rattling off names of those who made Team Larry roar could read like a "Who's Who of Lady Monarchs History" -- Celeste, Ticha, Clarisse, Lucienne, Mery, Tanty, Shareese . . . but Larry includes support staff such as Jessica Bowman, Felecia Allen, Leslie Williams and Annette Chester -- folks she credits with playing an invaluable role in her 24 seasons at ODU that ended in 2011.   "I think of all of them in addition to the trainers and the assistants and the operations directors. It's just amazing what we did."

Larry hasn't sent out an invite breakfast email yet -- the ceremony is at 9 a.m. during ODU's homecoming festivities -- but she's already got word that former Lady Monarch Deanna Vander Plas plans to come. "There's people who want to come back to celebrate the family," says Larry, who jokes she has 50 grandchildren out there (and she plans to visit every one of her kids' kids when she eventually retires).

Celebrating Larry's legacy at ODU is overdue.

After spending 30 years at ODU as a player, assistant for a national championship team and head coach, Larry parted ways with the school in May 2011 after athletic director Wood Selig did not offer her a contract extension. On the heels of a 20-11 season, it was chilly ending with no fanfare for a coach who kept the Lady Monarchs relevant despite the emergence of the power conference era.

Larry hasn't returned to ODU for a game but accepted this honor "for the program, for the players, for my mom, who will be 90 years old soon. I'm doing it because it's not just about me. I mean, you get over your bad self in that regard. It's about so many people. It's about everyone who was engaged with what we did, who knew us for what we were. It's recognition for a lot of good folks who did a lot of good things together."

Larry enjoys the role she has at the Atlantic 10, even though talks of endless phone calls and late nights piecing the recently released conference schedule together for 14 teams make for long hours. She travels more, usually by air, for a league that spreads from Richmond to St.  Louis to New England to upstate New York to Dayton. And she is an ideal sounding board for the league's coaches, who love having one of their own advocating on their behalf.

"Working on the conference schedule, I asked myself, 'What would I like as a coach?' " Larry said. "I asked myself that for all 14 teams."

The ODU soundtrack that plays in Larry's head when she reflects on her success starts at a different point every time, with a different face. Maybe it's a former manager like Bowman, now Jessica Horning, who today is school activities coordinator at Virginia Beach's Cox High School or maybe it's Clar, a mother of two in Italy or maybe it's a former assistant such as Cindy Fisher, head coach at the University of San Diego.

Sometimes she gets giddy recalling the memories --  there was the Monique Coker recruiting trip in the Bronx, which had her and assistant Allison Greene searching for their towed rental car past midnight. Other times it's awe -- recounting Grant's 35-point performance in the 2005 CAA title game with walk-on Melea Caldwell playing point and the ODU frontline fouled out.

Twenty NCAA Tournaments. Two Elite Eights. National runner-up. Triple-peating in the CAA championship game again and again and again and again and again.

Those are glory days,  Wendy Larry days worth celebrating. Breakfast tickets are $25 and can be purchased through ODU by calling (757) 683-3359.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Updated verbals for 2015-16; six at JMU, four at Hampton

Taisha Murphy

The women's basketball season may still be weeks away, but several programs are already knee-deep into the process of stocking up for the 2015-16 campaign and beyond. Here are the 2015 verbal commitments we have so far for the state's 13 Division I programs. As always, if you know of someone we've missed, drop us a line at or on twitter @ladyswish

2015 verbal commitments


Chandler Smith, 6-3 C, St. Mary's Ryken (Md)

Bianca Boggs, 5-8 G, St. Mary's Ryken (Md)

Misha Jones, 5-9 G, Battlefield (Va.)


Kelly Koshuta, 6-2 F, James Madison (Va.)

Chanette Hicks, 5-5 G, Maury (Va.)

Alana Gilmer, 6-0 F, Archbishop Williams (Mass.)

Lexi Barrier, 5-11 G, Ironton (Ohio)

Also available for 2015: 6-2 F Sidney Cook (Parkton, N.C.), a transfer from Seton Hall who made the Big East All-Freshman team and has three years of eligibility remaining.


Kayla Williams, 6-2 F, Hylton (Va)
   - Chose JMU over ODU. Older brother Chris Cooper was a standout Monarchs forward.

Aneah Young, 5-10 F, Polytechnic (Md.)

Elemy Colome, 5-9 G, Proctor Academy (NH)

Destiny Campbell, 6-2 F, Scotland (NC)

Logan Reynolds, 5-8 G, Wise (Va.)

Savannah Felgemacher, 6-2 F, Volunteer (Tenn.)


Gianna Smith, 5-10 G, Maury


Kierra Palmer, 5-8 G, Aberdeen (Md.)

Keturah Barbour, 6-0 F, Albemarle (Va.)

Molly Reagan, 6-2 F/C, Braintree (Mass.)


Quiera Gilmore, 5-8 G, Ardrey Kelly (N.C.)

Jewel Triggs

Jewel Triggs, 5-11 G, Thibodaux (La.)

Chinyere Bell, 6-1 F, Southview (N.C.)

Also available in 2015: 6-6 C Briget O'Donnell, a transfer from UMBC

Dejane James

Taylor Pate, 6-2 F, Proviso West (Ill.)

Dejane James, 5-4 G, Weaver (Conn.)

K'lynn Willis, 5-4 G, Cass Tech (Mich)

Jephany Brown, 6-0 F Walters State CC (Tenn.)


Bria Gibson, 6-0 F, Sanderson (N.C.)

Katherine Strong, 6-2 F, Bloom (Chicago)

Sandra Skinner, 6-0 F, Clark( Ky)


Debra Ferguson, 6-4 C, Amherst County (VA)

Shakyna Payne, 6-4 C, Southwest Christian Academy (Ga.)

Also available in 2015, 5-10 G J'Kyra Brown (Rocky Mount, N.C.), a transfer from East Carolina.


Taisha Murphy, 5-10 G, Clayton (N.C.)


Lydia Rivers, 6-2 F, Kinston (N.C.)

Alexis Jackson, 5-9 G, Meade (Md.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Why we love Radford's Aisha Foy

A few weeks ago, we sent players a Twitter survey to try and learn how they spent their summers. Well, let's just say we weren't overwhelmed with responses. But that's OK; we love the feedback we got, particularly one detailed offering from Radford's Aisha Foy. In fact, we loved it so much we decided to share it with the world.

Thanks a ton, Aisha. Coach (Mike) McGuire, more minutes for this young lady!

1. What aspect of your game have you worked on/improved the most this offseason?

Absolutely the mental part of the game and self-development as a person and leader. We can work on our jump shot until we shoot like MJ, but if we can't help our teammates do the same thing then we won't get championships. We have eight newcomers this year; that's huge for basketball. So the entire concept of leading by example makes every other aspect of your game improve because you have to work harder than everyone else in any drill no matter what it is so the game and skill will come.

2. Most fun thing you've done this summer?

Wow. The most fun thing I did this summer was my experience as a Quest Assistant, which is a student helper for freshman orientation. They split about 300-400 incoming freshmen that come each session into groups for about 20 per QA, and we are the first impression of the school. You can be the deciding factor if they come back to Radford in the fall. And if they don't have a choice, are they going to be excited to come back or will they dread it? Talk about pressure! Twenty freshmen, with the wrong things on their mind, and having to keep them motivated and entertained through a long day of presentations they don't want to sit through AND have to tend to anxious parents that want to ask all the questions in the world. . . . I don't care what anyone says; that's one of the toughest jobs in the world. But it was rewarding and so much fun through the process and the training. All the 24 QAs live together for about a month and a half and build this incredible bond. As a QA you develop this ownership, love and appreciation for your school. You also make amazing friends, even though all 24 of us were completely different. I had trouble bonding and developing relationships with people different than me (non-athletes). After my QA experience, I can find ways to relate to anyone which was something that was on my list to develop anyway. The greatest moment of my QA experience was we had a talent show just for the staff during the training period, and I decided at the last minute to put together a speech to inspire everyone throughout our journey (Believe me, we needed it working 6 a.m. to noon during sessions). This was a huge fear of mine, but at the same time I want to be a speaker, so I got that first time out of the way (haha). Personally, the QA experience hit me in a different way because I was one of three athletes on staff. When you are being recruited as an athlete to come to a school, there's SO much you don't see or realize about your school. I wass fortunate to get to have such an amazing experience, to have a huge impact of the incoming freshmen and to be the one to make a difference in their time here at Radford.

3. Summer guilty pleasure?

It came when I went on vacation to Cancun with my family. For those four days ate and had fun and that was about it (haha). I had all the intentions to hit the gym every day, but I got so caught up in my family craziness time when by so fast! But I had a great time.

4. Best movie you've seen this summer, and why did you enjoy it so much?

I actually didn't see any good movies really! I am not into TV.

5. Favorite Robin Williams movie/show/special?

I have watched a lot of Robin Williams but my favorite has to be "Mrs. Doubtfire." Hilarious!