ATL_eagle: How surprised were you about the coaching change? How did you find out?
Ayla Brown: I have to admit, I was quite surprised to hear that Coach Inglese was leaving the program. One of the reasons I came to Boston College was because she had a great record over her years of coaching in the Big East. I remember the precise moment she told us that she was leaving the program. She called us into our locker room and gave us the news. Coach Inglese is an incredibly tough, mentally strong woman and when she broke the news to the players it was the most vulnerable I had ever seen her. She expressed how much the team and the program meant to her and that leaving was an incredibly difficult decision to make.
Days after Coach Inglese resigned from the program I had my first strange moment. This occurred when I walked upstairs into the coach’s office and no one was in there. The offices were empty, the closets were cleared out, and the pictures were off the walls. From that moment I knew that things had truly changed. The program was taking a new direction and I was going to be a part of it. A couple weeks later a new swarm of coaches made their appearance in the office and introduced themselves to the rest of the team.
ATL_eagle: What were your initial impressions of Coach Crawley? Has she given you any feedback yet about your game, your role on the team next year, things to improve on?
Ayla Brown: My initial impression of Coach Crawley was, "wow, she is so tall!" Before her arrival I had heard a lot about Coach Crawley from teammates and discovered that she was a great player at UNC. Hearing this made me very excited to play for her coaching staff and her. The entire coaching staff came into our locker room when they first arrived to Massachusetts and made a speech about what they expected from our team for the upcoming season. One thing Coach Crawley made clear was that she wanted us to be a running team. Along with that meant that we must be in tip-top shape. However, in general she stressed that she wanted us to have fun, love the game of basketball, win games, and make it to the NCAA tournament. This is a reasonable goal because as a team we strived for the same things.
ATL_eagle: You were in a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat this summer. Where does basketball fit into your schedule with performances? How does the experience of being on stage compare to being on the court?
Ayla Brown: This past June, I had the privilege of working with Reagle Players Theatre in Waltham, MA by playing the Narrator in the musical, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” When approached by the producer of the show, Robert Eagle, about starring in the role, I was unaware of whether I wanted to participate in the production because I had never done a musical before. Being a perfectionist, I was scared that I wouldn’t do well, and that I also wouldn’t be able to do my basketball workouts and please the new coaching staff as well. After two weeks of considering Mr. Eagle’s offer, I decided to do the musical because I didn’t want to look back and regret not doing it. The next problem to tackle was the new coaching staff and my basketball workouts. When I approached Coach Crawley about doing the musical she was very open and accepting to participating in extra-curricular activities outside the basketball court. When she coached at Ohio University Miss Teen USA was on her team so she was very aware of her players being well rounded and interested in other activities.
I was very pleased to hear Coach Crawley’s excitement in her voice. On the other hand she made it very clear to me that I had to get my workouts done if I wanted opportunities to perform. I ensured her that doing both wasn’t a problem and made my way downstairs to the weight room to look at my workout plan. I had it figured out. I would workout in the morning at 10:30 for two hours and then drive back to Waltham for rehearsals, which ended at 10:00 pm. I decided that this was a perfect plan and that’s exactly what I did. For the next month I was running, lifting, and playing basketball in the morning and trading in my basketball shoes for high-heels in the afternoon. In the end, the entire coaching staff came to the theatre and saw me perform on stage. It was a very memorable moment for me and it’s one that I will never forget. Now hopefully I can impress them on the court! I can say this though- there is no better feeling than expressing yourself on stage knowing that months later you can be sweating on the court beating Duke for the first time.