NIKKI CALDWELL SURPRISES EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH SCHOOL SYSTEM
PRINCIPALS AS A GUEST SPEAKER
BATON ROUGE – Over 50 principals in the East
Baton Rouge Parish School System gathered for an afternoon retreat at
the Waddill Outdoor Education Center on Thursday, awaiting the arrival
of a surprise guest speaker.
Little did they know that the speaker who would walk through the door
was new LSU women’s basketball head coach Nikki Caldwell, who
addressed the group and fielded questions for an hour on teamwork,
attitude and her excitement about being a part of the Baton Rouge
“You all have a tough job to do,” Caldwell told them.
“Hats off to the job you do, the leadership you bring to the
table and the guidance you give our youth. At the college level, we get
the finished product and get to offer scholarships. You are at the
grass roots level and I admire the work you do.”
Caldwell, who built UCLA into a national contender and won
championships at Tennessee, stressed the importance of how her team
will be involved in the community and with schools in the Baton Rouge
area. The Lady Tigers have annually played a game to honor education
and the team plans on continuing that tradition.
Among the many topics related to teamwork that she discussed, she
touched on the examples of Michael Jordan, Julius Erving and the late
John Wooden. She told the story of how she wrote the letters
“T-E-A-M” on the wipeboard and asked each player to
describe what each letter meant to them.
“Togetherness has a lot to do with what you are going to
tolerate,” Caldwell said. “When you step over the lines
into competition, whether it’s in the classroom or on the
basketball court, I tell our team don’t expect anything but
greatness. Greatness exudes in all of us, so don’t tolerate you
or your teammate underachieving. Be the one that takes initiative and
is proactive in making sure you and your teammate are tolerating
nothing but greatness.”
Caldwell used examples she has shared with the Lady Tigers this
offseason and how they plan on reaching their goals for the 2011-12
campaign, which gets underway in November.
“I remind our team everyday that we haven’t arrived,”
she said. “We have to get better every day and hopefully that
fuels our toughness. Our team must have a feeling of unity. Every
student-athlete must put the team ahead of her own personal glory.
Dreams are fueled by the act of sacrifice. You can take the word team
and put it right next to the word sacrifice and you will get the exact
results you are looking for. Those are the things we try to instill in
Caldwell fielded questions from the group after her lecture, including
how youth today need to continue to dream big.
“I was always encouraged by mom growing up to dream big. I wanted
to go to a big time college, get my education and get a job. I
didn’t know what field was going into, but I did know that
through playing basketball, it was going to give me the podium I
needed. Obviously, I love to win, but it is more so just me wanting to
give back to these young ladies and the community.”