Author: Noel Hemphill
“Coach Heat” heads up program after VanDerveer departure
The women’s basketball team is training under interim head coach and Assistant Director of Athletics Anahit “Heat” Aladzhanyan, who looks to fill the big shoes left behind after the departure of Heidi VanDerveer. Even just a few weeks in, players have felt the change and responded to the new program formulated by a coach who has assisted both the Occidental men’s and women’s basketball teams.
Aladzhanyan has started out ambitious, pushing her players on an intense regimen to get them ready for another successful season in the SCIAC. With the leadership and skills of seniors Makenzie Brandon and Liz Little, Aladzhanyan looks to repeat the women’s team’s dominant presence in SCIAC that has resulted in five consecutive regular season SCIAC championships. This goal will require Aladzhanyan to test her simple and specific coaching philosophy.
“Respect your players, and they will respect you. Work hard, be dedicated, and passionate,” she said via email.
Aladzhanyan’s belief is that there should be a positive attitude on and off the court, no matter what the day brings. It is important to Aladzhanyan that she sets herself up as a role model, a teacher and a motivator. She believes that with this sort of program, her girls will be physically and mentally prepared for each competition.
As an Occidental alum, she believes her understanding of the student-athlete role is well developed, and is a large part of what makes this role as head coach so special to her.
“Having players who are intelligent, motivated, and play because they love the sport makes it special. Coaching at a place I genuinely believe in, and love, makes it very special for me,” Aladzhanyan said.
It is under this sort of support system that Aladzhanyan marches forward with many goals for the season. In what she calls her dream coaching position, Coach Aladzhanyan is looking forward to a successful season with athletes who she calls dedicated to their journey and their success.
The goals for the season are collectively set goals with an end result of making it to the NCAA Tournament. There are little goals along the way that Aladzhanyan hopes will be possible, too.
“Personally, I’d like each of my players to put forth her best effort, enjoy our journey, and have a positive experience. Winning will hopefully be a by-product of what we do day in and day out,” she said.
The team unity and positive atmosphere Aladzhanyan is trying to establish has been a welcome change to the women. Practices have been an exercise in team unity and hard work and the women have responded well to the new coaching. With the support of her players, Aladzhanyan seems poised to excel in filling her newest role as head coach.
Aladzhanyan is deep in the process of shifting gears from playing in the game to planning the game. She has changed from pre-game pump up music to clearing her head and focusing all her thoughts and energy on strategizing success. She has looked to famous coaches Phil Jackson and Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski for inspiration, but has a great deal of experience to help her achieve her goals for the Tigers.
The Lady Tigers have an alumni game this Saturday at 5:00 p.m. and host Linfield College at 7:00 p.m. on Nov. 17.
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