May 27, 2009

WNBA rookie Courtney Paris will write for periodically on her first season as a pro.

It's been a big week. We started training camp, took our first road trip, and have played our first WNBA game (ok, it was an exhibition). And slowly, I'm learning how different life is going to be in the pros than it was at Oklahoma. After I was drafted by the Monarchs, my first conversation with coach Jenny [Boucek]wasn't about stepping up, like it has been in other places I've played. Instead, it was aboutlearning and even failing. My first time working one-on-one with coach, I was beating myself up over missing shots until she looked at me and said, "You're not going to be very successful if you're not willing to fail." That is a new concept for me.

It's hard not be frustrated while trying to learn a new system, gain chemistry with players I barely know, while being competitive and doing everything that have made me the player that I am. But at this level, some of my old ways don't work anymore. For example, while using my size to push people off the block has given me success in the past, here our defense doesn't rely on my size and strength. Instead, we front players and rely on help on the baseline drive -- it's a much more team-oriented defense.

One thing that has made the transition easier is the veterans, especially Demaya Walker, Barbara Farris and Rebecca Brunson. They are always giving me tips, challenging and encouraging me. Nicole Powell even gave me a slogan for my family to wear on T-shirts: "The Court Is In Session." And although they are often the victims of my size and physicality, they always remind me to use my advantage, and even will take time after practice to help me do so.

It also helps to have other rookies going through this journey with me, Whitney Boddie and Morgan Warburton. We are all so different, but have a great time around each other. For Memorial Day, I invited them to my dad's house for a barbeque and we also went fishing and for a boat ride. And come 9 p.m., we were all planted in front of the TV for the most important film viewing of the week -- the season premiere of John and Kate Plus Eight.

As rookies, it's also easy to bond over the annoying parts of being the youngest on the team. While the veterans normally treat us well, there are still "rookie duties" that include collecting all the bags off the carousel at the airport and keeping track of the tags. When the veterans went out to dinner with an old teammate, it was up to us to make sure their bags made it to their rooms.

My life off the court has also changed a lot. I haven't seen my sister, Ashley, since the middle of May, but she does keep in touch through some rude comments on Facebook. As for the living situation, all of the rookies share a place at the complex across from the arena right now, until the team lists are finalized. Once that happens, we'll all get our own places at the same complex. And while we're busy with basketball duties most of the time, I can't wait to take everyone on a tour of the Bay Area and San Francisco on our next day off.

In the end, I know that this preseason whirl is leading up to what's going to be a great rookie season. Right now, we've barely learned our sets. I think my role on the team for now is to rebound everything -- the rest will come eventually. And in time, I think our team will be good -- once we all get used to each other.

That's it for now. I'll check back in soon!

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