By all accounts, the
Charity Elliott era of UC San Diego Women's Basketball has been a rousing
success. Entering the 2011-12 season, Elliott had a career mark of 97-31 in La
Jolla, four consecutive 20-win seasons, a pair of CCAA Championships and three
NCAA Playoff appearances. Her fifth year at the helm may well turn out to be
the best yet. With a perfect record after 20 games, the Tritons have ascended
to the top of the national rankings for the first time in history. A graduate
of Missouri State (formerly Southwest Missouri State), where she played on the
Bears' 1992 NCAA D-I Final Four squad, Elliott has been a perfect fit at UC San
Diego. With a Spirit Night clash against fast-rising Cal State L.A., the CCAA's
third place team, looming Friday, Elliott took time to discuss the evolution of
this year's team, its senior leaders and her coaching career.
Q-What's been the
most surprising thing you've experienced since the team attained the No. 1
the attention to our program and the interest from the community has been the
biggest surprise. It's been really
nice to see these kids get some recognition for their efforts.
Q-How has your team
adjusted to all of the ancillary attention that comes with being ranked No. 1?
tried to keep things very consistent and have tried to remain focused on what
has led to our success. We've
talked a lot about "our standards" and keeping our blinders on to everything
else that's going on.
Q-Your team is 20-0
right now. Last year, the team lost its first six games before righting things,
finishing 20-10 but missing out on the NCAA Playoffs. What's the biggest
difference between this year and last?
the experience we gained from those tough losses last year and the fact that we
missed out on the NCAA tourney for the first time has been our main motivation
for this season. We also have some
individuals whose growth as basketball players over the course of the
off-season has taken this entire program to a new and higher level.
Q-As a coach, what
did you learn from last year and how did it affect your approach to this
year was one of the proudest of my coaching career, believe it or not. We started out 0-6 and could have ended
up in the tank. But, that team
would not allow that to happen. We
had six freshmen that had to grow up in a hurry and our returners had to learn
how to lead through difficulties and how much effort it takes to be successful. After those first six games, we went
20-4....the growth and maturation of that team was unbelievable to me. Now, this group has lived through
adversity and we continue to use those lessons and refer to last year quite
goals every season are first a CCAA title and then an NCAA Championship. How
realistic are those objectives this year and what is the most important
priority for your team from this point on?
priority every day is to remain focused on the things that have led to our success
so far this season. We need to not get caught up in what other people are
saying and just stay true to our standards.
Q-When it comes to
undefeated teams playing a lengthy schedule one school of thought subscribes to
the notion that it's better to lose a game along the way. How do you feel about
whether you win or lose, it's important to learn lessons from each game and
that's what we're trying to do.
We've had several wins that we have treated as losses and have been able
to learn a tremendous amount from those games. Our goal has never been to be undefeated...our goal is to keep
improving and to stay focused on our expectations and the results will take
care of themselves.
Q-This year's Tritons
are lead by the strong senior core of Chelsea Carlisle, Daisy Feder and Lauren
Freidenberg. What does each bring to the team and what is the one word that
best describes each one?
three are just priceless to this team and this program. In their four years, they have experienced
so many highs and lows and that is what I believe has enabled them to be
leading so amazingly well this season.
Chelsea is so steady and is truly my extension on the
floor. She leads both by words and
action and has the unmatched trust of her teammates. One Word:
Daisy has been through so much to get to this point and I'm
so happy and proud of her. She is
a tremendous competitor and just loves this game and will do whatever she has
to do to help this team. One
Lauren is a natural leader and the passion behind our
team. She is such a perfectionist
and has grown so much in her time here.
Her freshman year she was able to learn from some great post players
(Alexis Gaskin and Michelle Osier) and she used that time to watch and
learn. Every year her commitment
to improve and work has led her to become one of the premier posts in our
conference and the voice of this team.
One word: FIRE
Q-What is the most
gratifying thing about being a head coach at UC San Diego?
working with young ladies who are passionate about life and all areas of their
life...in the classroom, on the court, for their future and for society. I also love working in an environment
surrounded by other coaches and administrators who are all working to be
excellent in their work!
Q-In season, what's a
typical day in the life of Charity Elliott?
the season, my day is full of watching film, preparing practice and getting
ready for our next opponent as well as trying to take the pulse of our team and
determine what they need on that particular day or week.
Q-You're pretty vocal
on the sidelines. What role do you feel the head coach should play and where do
you feel a coach has the most impact during a game?
coaches have to stay within their personality and I can't help but get excited
in practice and in games. To me,
teaching occurs in practice...games are for making minor adjustments.
Q-Who have been some
of your coaching mentors? Do you still stay in contact with them? Outside of
sports, who do you admire?
coaching mentors include Cheryl Burnett, my coach at Southwest Missouri State
(now Missouri State) . She is now
retired from coaching but we keep in pretty close contact and she's the one if
I want to run something by someone, I'd call. Beth Burns, at SDSU, is another mentor. She gave me my first college coaching
job and has always been willing to give me wisdom! Outside of sports, I admire
people who stand for their convictions and don't waver based upon popular
Q-You have an outstanding group of
colleagues on the coaching staff at UC San Diego. What have you learned from
other coaches here and what's the best thing you've been able to take from
watching one of them?
group of coaches at UCSD is just amazing!
They are so talented and committed to excellence and I've learned so
much from so many of them. I think
talking with Patti Gerckens (head softball coach) and watching her truly enjoy
every day has had a significant impact on me and how I'm approaching this year.
Q-As a player, you
were part of a Final Four team at Southwest Missouri State. What impact did
playing collegiate basketball and reaching the Final Four have on your life?
I had one of the most amazing experiences as a student-athlete and that
experience has shaped and defined me as a coach to this day. My desire for my team is that they too
will have lasting memories and lasting relationships from their time in this
program. I learned so much about
adversity, success, teamwork, and excellence as a player and those are some of
the things that I hope to pass on.
My senior year, we had a team of very unspectacular, unselfish, hard
workers who achieved more than anyone thought possible...
Q-What's it like
having your husband, Chris, on the coaching staff with you?
because we get along so well...he knows what I expect and knows what I most need
to be at my best. I feel so
blessed to have him and Alexis (Mezzetta) on my staff. We laugh so much and it just makes
coming to work every day so enjoyable.
Sure, we have our days where all three of us get irritated, but I
couldn't ask for a more loyal, supportive and fun staff to work with!
Q-Away from coaching and away from
basketball, what kind of interests do you have? If you had to work outside of
sports, where would it be?
if I weren't coaching, I'd be either teaching history (I love history) or
working with animals. I am a
history fanatic and am constantly reading biographies on the early leaders of
this country or books on different wars or eras in the world. We can all learn so much from the
successes and mistakes of those who have gone before us. And I love animals, so I think I could
be very happy working with them on a daily basis too.
Other interests I have....during the off-season, I'll be
preparing to run my second La Jolla Half-Marathon. Chris and I have been on several mission trips with our
church and I'm involved in the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) group
here on campus. We also love to
Q-What are your three
all-time favorite movies?
Notebook", "Remember the Titans" and "Bridesmaids."
Q-If you were writing
the script for the last two months of the 2011-12 season, how would it go?
ELLIOTT- I can't think that far
ahead...I just want to have a good practice tomorrow! :)
Previous Q & A Articles
Alex Henley (Women's Swimming & Diving) January 17, 2012
James McCann (Men's Basketball) December 29, 2011
Emily Osga (Women's Basketball) December 19, 2011
John Butler (Men's Water Polo) November 28, 2011
Lauren Demos (Women's Volleyball) November 8, 2011
Cory Wolfrom (Men's Soccer) October 26, 2011
Ellen Wilson (Women's Soccer) October 1, 2011
Brian Donohoe (Men's Water Polo) September 4, 2011
Roxanne Brunsting (Women's Volleyball) August 19, 2011
Jon Pascale (Men's Soccer) August 4, 2011
Jon Pascale (Men's Soccer) August 4, 2011
Vincent Nguyen (Tennis) July 1, 2011
Patti Gerckens (Softball) May 26, 2011
Blake Tagmyer (Baseball) May 11, 2011
Theresa Richards (Women's Track & Field) April 27, 2011
Austin West (Men's Tennis) April 17, 2011
Drew Lawyer (Men's Crew) April 11, 2011
Keith Okasaki (Men's Golf) March 26, 2011
Matt Herman (Men's Swimming & Diving) March 12, 2011
Hanalei Crowell (Women's Water Polo) March 5, 2011
Camille Gaito (Softball) February 23, 2011
Tim Shibuya (Baseball) February 8, 2011
Carl Eberts (Men's Volleyball) January 31, 2011
Neda Nguyen (Women's Swimming & Diving) January 24, 2011
Amy Bianchini (Fencing) January 14, 2011
Lauren Freidenberg (Women's Basketball) January 3, 2011
Christian Hatch (Men's Basketball) December 24, 2010
Blake Langland (Men's Swimming & Diving) November 27, 2010
Sarah McTigue (Women's Soccer) November 8, 2010
Brandon Yee (Men's Soccer) October 11, 2010
Bryce Madsen (Men's Water Polo) September 23, 2010
Annette Ilg (Women's Soccer) September 9, 2010
Ricci Luyties (Women's Volleyball Head Coach) August 24, 2010
Kevin Messey (Head Athletics Trainer) July 7, 2010
Dan O'Brien (Baseball Head Coach) June 18, 2010
Christine Merrill (Women's Track & Field) June 14, 2010
Vance Albitz (Baseball) May 11, 2010
Erik Elliott (Men's Tennis) May 3, 2010
Kelly Fogarty (Women's Track & Field) April 23, 2010
Liz LaPlante (Women's Tennis Head Coach) April 15, 2010
Kirby St. John (Baseball) March 24, 2010
Dan Perdew (Men's Swimming) February 28, 2010
Calvin Ross (Men's Volleyball) February 20, 2010
Nicole Saari (Softball) February 4, 2010
Brad Kreutzkamp (Women's Water Polo Head Coach) January 18, 2010
Tyler Acevedo (Men's Basketball) January 4, 2010
Dr. Cliff Kubiak (UCSD's Faculty Athletic Rep) December 18, 2009
Chelsea Carlisle (Women's Basketball) December 9, 2009
Carianne Cunningham (Women's Swimming) November 23, 2009
Elena Inouye (Cross Country) November 6, 2009
David Morton (Men's Water Polo) October 28, 2009
Juan Pablo Carillo (Men's Swimming) October 19, 2009
Sara Spaventa (Women's Soccer) October 10, 2009
Karen Reis (Women's Volleyball) October 2, 2009
Daniel Pavitt (Men's Soccer) September 23, 2009
Daniel Anderson (Cross Country) September 11, 2009
Peter Gresham (Men's Water Polo) September 2, 2009
Alexia Zatarain (Women's Soccer) August 24, 2009
Elaine Chen (Women's Volleyball) August 12, 2009
Jared Kukura (Men's Soccer) July 30, 2009
Dawn Lee (Former Women's Soccer Standout) July 8, 2009
Rob Mamula (Director of Athletic Performance) June 18, 2009
Garrett Imeson (Baseball) June 8, 2009
Leon Baham (Men's Track & Field) May 21, 2009
Kristyn Lesovsky (Softball) May 8, 2009
Kazumi Negishi (Men's Tennis) May 5, 2009
Laiah Blue (Women's Track & Field) April 16, 2009
Ryan Andre (Men's Crew) April 2, 2009
Josh Tanner (Baseball) March 24, 2009
Anju Shimura (Women's Swimming) March 7, 2009
Stephanie Bocian (Women's Water Polo) February 20, 2009
Lauren Chastain (Softball) February 5, 2009
A.J. Maulhardt (Men's Basketball) January 28, 2009
Annette Ilg (Women's Basketball) January 22, 2009
Steven Hardy (Men's Swimming) January 13, 2009
Frank Fritsch (Men's Volleyball) January 5, 2009