Q&A with Assistant Coach Angel Elderkin
Assistant women’s basketball coach Angel Elderkin and the Cavaliers return to action with a 2:30 p.m. game Sunday at Georgia in Athens, Ga. Elderkin, now in her third year in Charlottesville, recently caught up with VirginiaSports.com to talk about the season thus far, why she got into coaching and her favorite holiday music.
Question: How would you describe the season so far?
Elderkin: The season has had its ups and downs as far as a little bit of inconsistency. But when you have a young team, that’s what you’re going to get. We’ve had our moments of excellence and our moments of greatness, and we’ve also had our moments of let-downs. But I think when you are coaching a young team, until they figure out their own way, you’re going to have a little bit of inconsistency. That is what the preseason is about; trying to figure out who you are early, and trying to figure out what you think you should be in the end.
Question: What are the strengths and weaknesses in terms of fundamentals within the team right now?
Elderkin: Our strength is obviously our athleticism, which on the defensive end should allow us to disrupt our opponents, and right now that’s where some of the inconsistency is coming. We have to do it every day to be really good at it. Offensively, our transition game obviously when you have a player like Monica, she makes you very strong on the perimeter. Our post play is young, but they continue to get better, and I think in the end we’ll have a dominant presence in the post but it’s still developing.
Question: What do you take away from the tough losses to two very good teams like Tennessee and JMU?
Elderkin: I think we can step away from both of those games and we can look at ourselves as a team and see what we need to do to get better, what we need to do to be there in the end. But we have to look at every game like that, not just losses. I think that is what happens to young teams; when they win they don’t step away looking at the game as critically because you have the win. I think the main thing is that things that hurt are going to instruct. If it hurts you, it will instruct and it will get us better.
Question: What made you want to get into coaching?
Elderkin: Just the opportunity to be a role model for female athletes. I know that growing up I had the opportunity of having so many different people touch my life in athletics, and I really wanted to be able to give back to the game and give back to females playing the game. For me it’s just about watching the female athletes develop, watching them grow, watching them graduate, and watching them be successful afterwards.
Question: What is your role on the staff and what do you bring to the staff?
Elderkin: Everyday I bring a positive energy to the staff and to the team, that’s definitely one of my strengths. I always try to see things from a positive light. I think I contribute to the game preparation; preparing the players for what they’re going to face on the court and what they’re going to face in life, and trying to make it a life lesson.
Question: What are your hobbies when you’re not working?
Elderkin: One of the best things I do when I’m not working is spend a lot of time with my dog, Miles. I like to run, he likes to run with me, and we go to the dog park. I like to read, and I read a lot of books within the profession to help me grow as a person, but that’s pretty much it. I love to work out, exercise, read, going to the movies but I don’t often have a lot of time to do that. I root for my Boston teams; Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots, although we’re in a dark light right now.
Question: What are some books you have read recently and enjoyed?
Elderkin: I actually just came from a recruiting trip out west, and on the trip I read The Gold Standard by Mike Krzyzewski, which has been outstanding. There is a lot of good teaching moments about his experience with the Olympic team and professional athletes and how the transition was to coach them. It’s been really, really great.
Question: Since it’s the holiday season, what were the best presents you ever gave and received?
Elderkin: I made my mom a calendar two Christmases ago and I put pictures of my brother and me throughout our childhood. It wasn’t an expensive Christmas present, and some of the pictures were black and white, but it was really cool. When she opened it when she cried, which was a big deal, so I think that was one of the best presents that I ever gave. I don’t know the best present I ever received because I’m not really a material person, and most presents you get at Christmas are material presents, but I’d rather spend time with someone.
Question: What is your favorite Christmas song?
Elderkin: I like the Bruce Springsteen’s “Santa Clause is Coming to Town.” And the Mariah Carey Christmas album, and Sugarland just came out with an album called “Gold and Green” and it is going to be my new one to rock out to this Christmas.
Question: Do you have any holiday traditions?
Elderkin: We do. We always get together on Christmas Eve with my whole family and then at 10 a.m. on Christmas day we open our presents. We just do a lot of family stuff.
Question: What did you get Miles for Christmas?
Elderkin: I got him a collar with bells on it. But I usually get him a stocking full of raw hide. The best thing about him is that for Christmas I bring him home and he spends time with my parents’ black lab, Ezra, and they play the whole time.