Excitement building for fall

Courtesy of Duke Athletics

The Duke basketball team has been enjoying the more relaxed pace of summer school in Durham.

Well, I'm back in Durham and college/student-athlete life as I know it is in full swing. Summer school is back in session and the whole team is finally together again staying busy with class, camp and workouts.

It’s hard for me to believe I’m a sophomore already. It seems like just yesterday I was a little freshman, finding my way around campus and terrified of being on my own for the first time. Guess I can't use the “freshman moments’’ excuse anymore. But now it’s a year later, I’m healthy, and I feel like a seasoned veteran ready to make the most of my first year back on the court.

When most people think of summer school, it’s usually followed by a groan, but it really isn’t that bad. Summer school is a relaxing period of time compared with the fall session. It's a time when the whole team can work out without the distractions that come with the craziness of a full class load and basketball season combined. My summer in Durham has been really productive and fun so far. We work out every day, sometimes twice a day, doing either a basketball workout, conditioning/agilities, weights or “pick up.” We also get in the gym on our own time to take extra shots and run.

Our coaches are out recruiting a lot during the summer, so Coach Will, our strength and conditioning coach, spends a lot of time helping us get in the best shape we can for the season. He helps us set customized goals to work toward throughout the summer.

Workouts are tough, but it seems like the overall disliked workout this year is the track. In just a few weeks we have the 1.5 mile test where guards have to get under 10:30 and posts under 10:45. Sprinting isn’t my specialty, but endurance running is. Unlike my teammates, I actually enjoy the track workouts. Last week I managed to get the mile and a half in 9:10. So I’m hoping to go for the record of nine minutes.

We’ve also stayed busy with camps. We've already had three camps and we have a few clinics coming up next week, too. The 'Lil Hoopers' camp has been my favorite so far. Although those youngsters can wear you out in about 15 minutes, they're just so dang cute.

Every year at camp we have a lip sync contest and this year the freshmen excelled. Azura Stevens, Erin Mathias, Lynee Belton and Sierra Calhoun performed a flawless choreographed dance to the Cheetah girls song “Cheetahlicious.” Sierra and Lynee owned the stage and Erin and Azura’s remarkable Nae Nae’s helped the freshmen bring home the first-place prize.

During the weekends we’re free to do as we please. The July 4th weekend, the team and I spent the day at the rock quarry, which was a lot of fun. We jumped off the cliff into the water and hung out in the water on our floaties and noodles. Afterward we headed to Ka'lia Johnson and Elizabeth Williams’ for a delicious cookout prepared by the seniors and hung by the pool. I ended the night perfectly by going to the Durham Bulls baseball game to watch fireworks.

In a few weeks we will head home for a short break. During that time I plan to go visit my long-lost friend Tricia Liston in Minnesota for a few days and catch a Lynx game. Then I’m heading back to Kentucky for my older sister Rachel's wedding. Lots of exciting days ahead.

I’m really looking forward to this upcoming basketball season. The freshman class plus our new transfer, Mercedes Riggs, are a hard-working group that will help contribute a lot this year. It’s been a long time coming since I’ve been able to suit up and hit the floor. I think we have a special squad that can do some damage, so words can’t describe my excitement!

Go Duke!