April 5, 2014
By David Dawson
Vanderbilt head coach Melanie Balcomb loves to talk about basketball. She also enjoys making people laugh.
On Saturday, she was able to do both at the same time.
Serving as a featured speaker/instructor during an hour-long session at the WBCA's National Convention at the Music City Center, Balcomb spoke on strategy -- and inserted humor -- while addressing an audience of coaches and players who are in town for the Final Four.
"It was a lot of fun to able to talk about basketball in front of my peers," said Balcomb, who is Vanderbilt's all-time wins leader. "And it was especially an honor to get to do it here in Nashville."
Balcomb spoke on the "finer points of offense."
Vanderbilt associate head coach Tom Garrick, along with assistant coaches Ashley Earley and Kim Rosamond, joined Balcomb for the instruction session, which was held on a make-shift basketball court that has been constructed inside the convention rooms at the spacious Music City Center.
Balcomb was also joined on the court by a collection of college players who demonstrated several offensive plays under instructions from Balcomb, who wore a chord-less microphone.
"It was awesome," she said, summing up the session.
Balcomb sprinkled in numerous jokes throughout the hour, which she often does during her public-speaking engagements. Balcomb, in fact, has said that if she wasn't a basketball coach, she might have pursued a career as a stand-up comic.
She said Saturday's session was a challenge, but she enjoyed preparing for it.
"Any time you speak in front of your peers, it's a little tougher -- and I was a little nervous for the first couple of minutes," she said. "But after (the session) got going, I got comfortable. And I was glad to have my staff here. That added a level of comfort."
Balcomb's session was one of several on-court presentations being offered this weekend as part of the convention.
The Vanderbilt head coach said she is thrilled to see the Final Four in Nashville.
"It will help build the women's fan base (locally)," she said, "and will stir up some new interest in our game."
Balcomb's appearance on Saturday was just one of the many ways that Vanderbilt will be visible during the Final Four festivities.
Many of the Vanderbilt players are helping host clinics this weekend, and senior Christina Foggie is serving as a panelist at the NCAA summit. Also, a large group of Vandebilt fans, students and faculty are filling various volunteer roles for the tournament -- and Balcomb said she felt the Commodore connection on Saturday.
"It was great to see so many people I know volunteering," she said, "and it was really nice to hear them say 'Go Vanderbilt' and 'Anchor Down'."