Husker seniors Jasmine Cincore (left) and Emily Wood are scheduled to participate in the WBCA So You Want To Be A Coach program at the NCAA Women's Final Four.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Two Seniors Prepare to Coach College Basketball

By Randy York

Here’s a tasteful thought worth contemplating as enthusiastic Big Red fans daydream about the Nebraska men’s and the Husker women’s basketball programs qualifying for the NCAA Basketball Tournaments next month.

Let the record show that two Husker women already are guaranteed to attend the NCAA Women’s Final Four in Columbus, Ohio, on March 30 and April 1.


Because Nebraska seniors Emily Wood (a 5-5 guard from Salina, Kan.), and Jasmine Cincore (a 5-10 guard from Arlington, Tenn.) will participate in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s sponsorship of a compelling program entitled So You Want to Be a Coach?  

Wood and Cincore will learn and share with other prospective coaches at the WBCA Convention. The timing is perfect because both are having their best season as Huskers, and their two years under head coach Amy Williams have convinced both student-athletes to follow in her footsteps.

Cincore (No. 34 below) absolutely loves the game of basketball.

Cincore: Through Coach Williams, I Learned How You Do One Thing is How You Do Everything

“I love competing and using the game as a parallel to life,” Cincore told me. “Through Coach Williams, I learned that how you do one thing is how you do everything. I learned about teamwork, the importance of encouragement, decision-making, perseverance, and the best way to come back from a mistake, all from the game of basketball.”

From Williams’ guidance, Cincore learned how to view the game differently, “and I would like to do the same for other athletes,” she said.

Cincore’s teammate agrees. “It's crazy because I thought I knew a lot about basketball before coming to college, but once I got here I realized how much I didn't know,” Wood told me. “One of my favorite things about Coach Williams is her attention to detail in every aspect of our program from defensive positioning all the way to academic success. She’s a tremendous teacher of the game and has never wavered in who she is or what she believes despite the challenges and setbacks we’ve faced.”

Ask Cincore and Wood about Nebraska’s remarkable turnaround under Williams from their first year to their second year, and you will understand why both seniors decided to make in search of excellence a career goal.

The 2017-18 Nebraska women’s basketball team has made great strides. Reaching tough goals helped create new goals. “I'm proud of the way our team has fought for each other, and the determination to make this season nothing like the last one,” Cincore said. “This is a team of warriors and anything is possible for us. We take it one opportunity at a time.

“This may be the most fun season of my entire career,” Cincore added. “Everyone has bought into what we are trying to accomplish and no one cares who gets the credit. Our team motto this year is family and we are truly living that out every day. If we can just stay committed to that, then the sky is the limit for this team.”

Wood agrees. “This may be the most fun season of my entire career,” she said.

A Closer Look at Emily Wood's Collegiate Basketball Career at Nebraska

Brian Wood, Emily’s dad, has been one of the most influential people in her basketball career. “He coached me growing up and has spent thousands of hours rebounding shots for me,” she said. “He always pushes me and never lets me settle. He is also my biggest fan. I am very thankful for that.”

Wood (above) has wanted to be a basketball coach her entire life. “That desire started as soon as I began playing,” she said. “I realized I loved everything about the game. Growing up I would always watch games with my dad and we would talk about what we saw. I soaked up everything I could.”

Her dad will vouch for that. “Emily figured out at a young age that she didn't win the genetic lottery, and if she wanted to play sports in high school and college she was going to have to work extremely hard,” Brian Wood said. “In first grade, she didn't get picked to be on a 3 verses 3 soccer team by the dad of a couple of her friends. She was steamed. She expressed her disappointment to me. We talked about how sports are not always fair and the best players get to play, and I told her those girls were better players than she was.”  

Literally, from that day forward, “I don't think she has ever been outworked,” her dad said. “She bought into the importance of the process and attention to detail at an extremely young age and stayed the course and didn't ever waiver. That makes us very proud because those characteristics will serve her well at whatever she chooses to do long after she is done playing basketball.”

Emily's Dad Remembers How His Daughter Responded to a Comment on Height

Emily’s dad also remembers the time when she was in middle school and he told her 'I know you are working hard, and I am sorry you aren't taller.' She looked me right in the eye and snapped ‘I don't because if I was taller I wouldn't have learned how to work so hard.’”  

After that classic piece of wisdom, father and daughter Wood never talked about limitations again. “We talked about the fact that intelligence, heart, toughness and discipline are talent, too,” Brian Wood said. “Emily’s hard-nosed toughness used to surprise me, but really not anymore.”  

Emily looks forward to coaching and building relationships with players. “I am a huge believer that basketball is something we do. It's not who we are,” she said, pointing out that basketball indeed teaches so many life lessons like persistence, teamwork, focus, and toughness. “If I can teach players those things through basketball, there is no doubt they will be successful women in whatever they pursue.”

Wood believes the toughest part will be teaching players to trust the process of improvement and to keep working in the midst of adversity. “Instead of making excuses or finding ways out, I want to be able to teach players that being mentally tough and consistent will pay off, not just on the court but in life as well,” she said. “I think our senior class this year is a great example of that.

“There are so many things basketball has taught me, but I think one of the most important lessons is that all I really have control over is my attitude, effort, and motivation,” Wood said. “I cannot control my circumstances but I can control how I act. I call it 'controlling the controllable.' A lot of people let their emotions get the best of them, but I think being able to be consistent in those three areas despite circumstances is something that sets me apart and will help open doors for me to succeed as a coach.”

A Closer Look at Jas Cincore’s Collegiate Basketball Career

Coach Williams stresses making the most of every opportunity. “It’s not looking back or jumping forward, but the opportunity presenting itself is now,” Cincore said. “If I'm not making the most of what I have, I'm only cheating myself. I’ve used that as encouragement to be present and give my best effort every time I put on a practice jersey and every time I put on a game jersey.

“My family has been a huge influence on my life as a student and an athlete,” Cincore said. “They have always encouraged me to go for any dream that I have, and keep me rooted in my faith. I’m proud that both of my parents are educators.”

Cincore’s mom taught elementary school and her dad taught middle school. “They understood how to challenge me as a student from an early age,” Jas said. “My dad played college basketball and would help coach many of my teams until the 8th grade,” said Cincore (above).  “He would enter our all-girls team in all-boys tournaments or older girls’ tournaments. The boys and the older girls didn't like that because we would often come away with the tournament championship.”

To Jas, the best part of coaching is being around the game she fell in love with at an early age. The toughest and most exciting part is breaking through the mental limits in which athletes have put themselves. That’s why she embraced the opportunity to play for different coaching staffs, so she could learn to adapt and to be successful.

The change became a great lesson. “I've learned how to be assertive when things are not favorable,” she said. “There were tough situations and outside voices that were not easy to ignore, but not everyone can stand the rain. That experience prepared me for anything. Coaching-wise, I’ve been able to take into consideration concepts from coaches to help form my own style of coaching.”

Cincore and Wood understand why coaching is the universal language of change and learning. They see how everything in your life can be a reflection of a chance you made. Despite turmoil, both Husker student-athletes/future basketball coaches learned the distance between their dreams and reality.

Both women revved up their passion to define their purpose. Somehow, tough times helped both realize that coaching is not just a dream; it is a lifelong plan.

In their minds, coaching is the universal language of change and learning, and everything in your life is a reflection of the chances you take. The distance between your dreams and reality still depends on action, and success still consists of learning from failure to appreciate enthusiasm.

A Close Look at Hailie Sample, Who Became a College Basketball Coach

There is a pivotal footnote for Cincore and Wood. Both want to coach at the collegiate level and both have a role model in Hailie Sample, a 6-1 forward from Flower Mound, Texas. Sample reached all kinds of milestones in her Husker career before deciding to become a coach at Wayne State College and then an assistant women’s basketball coach at McKendree University in Lebanon, Ill.

“I always knew I wanted to be a basketball coach on some level,” Sample told me. “As a college junior at Nebraska, I really felt a tug from God on my heart to pursue coaching.”

Sample (above) went to the Final Four a few seasons ago to experience the training program entitled So You Want to Be a Coach?

“So’ helped me make connections to build up my network, and many other things I will forever be grateful for,” Sample said. “I believe that the ‘So’ program was a huge asset to me following my senior year. I had the opportunity to meet high-level coaches and learn from them as they spoke to our class. I also had the opportunity to have an interview with Wayne State College during the Final Four because of this program. They were able to select me out of all of the participants, and it jump-started my career.”

Like many other professions, Sample sees coaching in terms of who you know and then backing it up with what you know. “I was very fortunate at Wayne State to learn from a coach who has won a National Championship and many conference championships while racking up more than 400 wins,” Sample said. “They are great basketball coaches and even better friends so I am very thankful and blessed that I had the opportunity to learn from them.”

Sample says Jasmine and Emily are both “amazing people” and on the right path to become “amazing coaches.”

“I would find it interesting to ask both ‘Do you want to be a coach and why?’ I think their answers would be very inspiring and impactful,” Sample said. 

Since she’s relatively new at coaching, “I’m not going to say what traits define me yet because they’re different for every coach,” Sample said. “However, I think the three most important traits are: 1) Passion/Love. This is for the game, for your University, for your student-athletes, for your family, and anything that is important to you. 2) Positivity/Belief. I believe that if you are going to achieve something you have to believe it first and then will it into reality. Whether you think you can or you cannot, you are right.” 3) Heart. You have to have the heart and the fight or else you will fail. It is easy to lose heart when you lose games but if you are persistent and have a fighter’s mentality you can achieve great things.” 

When asked what advice Sample would share for collegiate players who want to teach the game they love, she had an inspiring answer. “Basketball is a simple game and essentially a simple job,” she said. “Your job is to help young women grow to be the best versions of themselves they can be. That way, when they leave your program, they can set the world on fire with their passion and impact others in a positive way. You teach them the game of basketball at the same time you teach them the game of life.”

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Voices from Husker Nation

Nice article on Wood and Sample as future basketball coaches, plus Sample already coaching. Nebraska women's basketball has been fun to watch this year. They look like they are having fun, somewhat similar to the volleyball's bonding and having fun! For whatever reason, since the arrival of Bill Moos as athletic director, even the men's basketball team, plus both gymnastics teams, are doing better as well. Go Big Red! Harley Charlson, Lincoln Nebraska




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