VU's Zeavin a video champion

When the women's basketball team holds their first team practice tonight, four seniors will begin their last go-round at Vanderbilt. One of them is senior manager Hadley Zeavin, who brings a unique perspective to the season after spending the summer as video coordinator for the 2006 WNBA Champions, the Detroit Shock.

Being a manager for a basketball team is often a thankless job with endless hours of laundry, cleaning up, running errands, and doing anything and everything else that needs to be done.

But sometimes it pays off in unexpected ways. For Zeavin, her experience over the past three seasons as a manager with the women's basketball team led directly to her extraordinary summer job.

At Vanderbilt, all of the team's student managers assist with video operations, including taping practices and road games and assisting with the breakdown of game film and practice tapes.

So when Zeavin was looking for an internship after her sophomore year, former women's basketball SID Kerwin Lonzo suggested that she look for an internship with a WNBA team. Both the Los Angeles Sparks and the Charlotte Sting were interested.

"I'm from California, so that would have been nice," Zeavin told VandyMania last month, "but Charlotte was a better internship for me because it was doing video and I already knew how to do it, so I ended up doing that there."

As an intern with the Charlotte Sting in the summer of 2005, Zeavin was responsible for breaking down game film for use by the coaching staff including assistant coach Cheryl Reeve, but as an intern, she didn't travel with the team.

During the off-season, Reeve accepted a position with the Shock. In February, Zeavin's phone rang. Reeve was on the other end. "I have a job here, you want one, too?" she asked.

Zeavin accepted the job, and the rest is history.

Going into the season, Detroit was favored to win the WNBA championship.

"We had a lot of really talented players," said Zeavin. "The media was saying that Detroit's the best team out there, so it just a matter of the girls getting out on the court and putting it all together."

But of course there was a lot more to it than that. Before the players take the court, there's a game plan. And before the game plan can be made, the coaching staff needs to know what the opponent is likely to bring to the court.

And that's where the video coordinator enters the picture.

As video coordinator, before each game, Zeavin was responsible for breaking down the film that the coaching staff would use to create a plan for the game.

"Usually, we used the last four games for every team that we were going to play," said Zeavin. "So for example, if we played Indiana, we'd break down four Indiana games, then our last game against Indiana if we'd played them before.

"I'd watch the whole game and break it down, offense, and defense, shot by shot result, possession result, and points from that possession. Then after I broke down the whole game, I pulled the personnel clips for each player from their team.

"Then the coaches would go over it and make a playbook for a scout tape, and then they'd show the personnel clips that they liked to the scout team."

As an intern for the Sting last year, Zeavin stayed in Charlotte while the team went on the road. But this summer, as video coordinator, Zeavin's responsibilities required that she travel with the team.

"In the WNBA and the NBA it's required to have a live feed in each locker room during the game," explained Zeavin. "The video coordinators aren't actually responsible for filming anything, just for breaking down the film, so during the game I would usually sit in the locker room and just break it down the same as I would any scout tape. That way, if the coaches want to see something at halftime, you've got it for them."

Her game day responsibilities meant that Zeavin only saw a couple of games live at courtside. During the regular season, she watched all the games on the video monitor in the locker room, except for the game in Chicago, where the newest WNBA expansion team played in a gym without the usual video facilities.

As the Shock began their run through the playoffs, the fall semester began at Vanderbilt. Zeavin criss-crossed the country, attending her classes at Vanderbilt in Nashville during the week, then flying to meet the team for games in Connecticut for the Eastern Conference finals and in Detroit and Sacramento for the championship series.

After watching almost every one of the Shock's games from the locker room, Zeavin was able to watch the championship game from courtside and share in the excitement of the payoff for the countless hours she'd spent in front of a video monitor.

"I think we all started feeling it mid-way through the fourth quarter," said Zeavin. "Then in the last minute or two we pretty much knew we were going to win, so that was exciting."

After the final buzzer, Zeavin was courtside as the new champions received the trophy, and in the locker room as the champagne flowed freely. She'll also receive a WNBA championship ring to commemorate her summer's work.

Zeavin's future plans beyond graduation aren't settled yet. She's applying to graduate schools in both women's studies and in sports management, and her experiences at Vanderbilt and in the WNBA give her a great resume for a future position as video coordinator or director of basketball operations.

But in the meantime, there's a lot of basketball to be played, a lot of film to watch, and many loads of laundry before graduation in May -- and it all starts tonight.

Hadley Zeavin with Katie Smith during the championship celebration

Photo courtesy of Hadley Zeavin.

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