Being a college athlete requires time, dedication, energy and– maybe most importantly– a good relationship with the coaching staff.
Four Belmont women’s assistant coaches are well aware of the expectations placed on athletes because they were once college athletes themselves.
With their collegiate days behind them, these women hope to use their experience and knowledge to help the student-athletes of Belmont.
Ashley Casavant, Cross-Country
Casavant is in her sixth season with the Belmont women’s cross-country team. A graduate of Michigan State University, Casavant was part of the cross-country team that finished fifth at the NCAA Cross Country National Championships in 2007.
After graduation, Casavant wanted to pursue a master’s in sports administration, and Belmont caught her eye as an ideal school for that program.
“This one fit the mold. I really wanted to be in Nashville, and it just made a lot of sense,” said Casavant.
Casavant was not initially interested in becoming a coach but enjoyed her time at Belmont as a grad student and wanted to stay.
“One thing led to another, and I just fell into it,” said Casavant. “We have a great group of women, and I work with great coaches. It’s been fun.”
The women’s cross country team will be competing in the OVC Cross Country Championship on Oct. 31 in Murray, Kentucky.
Lindy La Rocque, Basketball
La Rocque is entering her first season with the Belmont women’s basketball team. La Rocque played guard at Stanford, which made the NCAA Final Four in all four of her years there.
La Rocque worked as a graduate assistant for two years at the University of Oklahoma before a meeting with women’s basketball coach Cameron Newbauer convinced her to come to Belmont.
“We discussed Belmont as a university and our program as a whole,” said La Rocque. “It was just a great fit.”
La Rocque comes from a family of teachers and wanted to become a coach to combine that family history and her love of basketball.
“Teaching is in my blood,” said La Rocque. “With a love of basketball and a love of teaching, coaching comes naturally.
The women’s basketball team begins its season on Nov. 13 against Young Harris University.
Jackie Wu, Tennis
Wu is in her first season with the Belmont women’s tennis team.
Wu played tennis at Vanderbilt University and received two All-SEC selections and four trips to the NCAA Tournament during her career.
Wu’s familiarity with the Nashville area was a major influence on her decision to coach at Belmont. Wu was also interested in working with women’s tennis coach Mark Srouji.
“Mark has done a great job with the girls,” said Wu. “I think together we work pretty well in trying to bring them up to the next level in the OVC.”
Wu has done private coaching for the last several years but wanted to focus on coaching athletes in higher levels of competition.
“Working with higher-level players is exciting,” said Wu. “The opportunity presented itself, and I went for it.”
The women’s tennis team will compete at the ITA Ohio Valley Regional tournament in West Lafayette, Indiana from Oct. 15-17.
Ashley Neff, Volleyball
Neff is in the midst of her second season with the Belmont volleyball team. Neff played for Florida State University and received three All-ACC selections while leading the conference in blocks for three straight seasons.
A connection between Neff’s former coach and Belmont’s senior woman administrator Lauren Eads brought Neff to the attention of Belmont.
“She knew my head coach at Florida State, and she asked if he knew anyone who might want to get into coaching,” said Neff. “He gave her my name, and that’s how I ended up here.”
Neff wanted to go into coaching in order to pass on what she’s learned from her coaches in the past.
“I had some amazing coaches throughout my career that really inspired me,” said Neff. “I want to give back to the sport that gave me so much.”
The volleyball team’s next home game will be Oct. 23 against UT Martin.
Photos courtesy of Belmont Athletics and Vanderbilt Athletics