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Vallee Blog #2: Today is the Game Canada has to Feel the Most Privileged to Play!



Today is the game Canada has to feel the most privileged to play!

There’s tons of pressure, and no way around it. PRESSURE it is! WOW, WOW, WOW, and WOW! In a few hours, Canada’s women’s basketball team will compete against Great Britain (London 2012′s host country), and it’s arguably a must-win situation if they want a fair chance at moving forward in the tournament.

The main obstacle, is that they’re going to have to do so in front of a sold-out home crowd of 12,000 fans! SOLD –OUT! Better yet, on prime-time Television!  Let that sink in for a second. A sold out stadium of 12,000 people cheering against you. Did you see what that did to powerhouse Australia on Day 1 of the Olympics? For one thing: it caused nerves…and 23 turn-overs!

To those who play basketball out there, when have any of you Canadian ballers EVER had the chance to come close to experiencing something like that, at any level? Let me tell you what an audience of 12,000 can do to you: it can make you feel like you’re at a rock concert when Britain scores, and a funeral when Canada does.

The energy from a packed stadium like that can make a mere two scored baskets in a row, seem like your opponent is blowing you out of the building. Let’s also add, it’s the OLYMPICS, and a crucial game. It’s a privilege as an athlete to be put in this situation. When you’re at the top of your sport in the world, this is exactly where you want to be!

From my experience coaching during championship games, I can share with you that today’s game for Canada will not be about physicality, talent, or playbooks. It’s going to come down to the ability to show pure mental toughness. Mind over matter. Plain and simple. And that’s why it’s a privileged situation. As an athlete, you have to thrive on these opportunities, you have to want them, and also dream about them. You cannot be someone who’s afraid of pressure or the possibility of being behind on the scoreboard when the game is winding down.  These are the situations you must be prepared for.

But wow! It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s the way sports should be, and it’s also when the “great” are separated from the “good.” Let’s face it, that’s a big test for our women’s national team. But remember, at this point, when the game is on, nobody will care about the sacrifice to get there or previous accomplishments. The fact is, everyone is going to care about who performs well TODAY. This is pressure; YES! But it is also a privilege. And as an Olympian that is exactly where you want to be. A chance to  rise up to meet the challenge ahead, and show your worth.

Are you ready? We are behind you.

Chantal Vallee is the Head Coach of the Windsor Lancers, the defending back-to-back Canadian InterUniversity Sports (CIS) Women’s Basketball Champions. Vallee has been hired as a basketball analyst by CTV Sports to help cover the Canada Basketball portion of the Olympic Summer Games.  CROWN is pleased to host her Blog entries, sharing with you her thoughts while in London covering the 2012 Games.