Lisa Stone does not like slowing down. She wants to be active, wants to immerse her uncannily positive attitude in near constant work. With one exception: her annual family relaxation time along a lake in Colorado.
Stone and her extended family make the pilgrimage annually. This year Wisconsin's women's basketball coach will be gone for 10 days, beginning this week.
"I'm antsy right now to go on vacation," Stone said during the Hoops for Hope event at the Kohl Center Thursday. "I would consider it a deserved vacation. I need to get away and relax and regroup and when I come back ... I mean, I'm fired up now but I do look forward to a little break and then come back when school starts and get ready for a great year."
Stone has enjoyed a busy summer filled with recruiting, basketball camps, speaking engagements (three to four per week when camps and recruiting calendar allowed for it) and charity work with her women's basketball players.
"This is the culmination… of our community service for this year," Stone said of Hoops for Hope. The annual free basketball clinic drew roughly 70 children from ages 9 to 12 to the Kohl Center and adjoining Nicholas Johnson Pavilion. The Badger women have also spent time volunteering with Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity and area hospitals this summer and throughout the school year. The Badger's community service calendar, as it is, starts anew in late August, when the student-athletes return from a three-week hiatus to hit the ground running with academics, workouts and more volunteer engagements.
"We're very active in the community," Stone said.
Thursday, former Badger Lello Gebisa and her sister Ebba, a senior at UW, joined men's players Mike Wilkinson and Zach Morley and former men's player Freddie Owens in helping to run the morning session. In the afternoon session, Owens joined members of the 2004 women's basketball team in leading drills and coaching groups of kids on basketball fundamentals.
"We are together as a team and we like being together," Stone said. "Now you learn to appreciate what other people do for you and give back (to the community) and it's very rewarding and it's a giving, not a receiving. The fact that we're all together molds our team unity and giving back just strengthens that as well."
The Badgers have spent plenty of time together this summer. The entire team, incoming freshmen included, is enrolled in summer school courses and has been working out early weekday mornings at the Kohl Center.
"They love it, they've been excited, they've worked hard," Stone said. "The young ones will stop by the office after a workout, big smiles on their face. At first it was ‘Wow, that's really hard' and now they look forward to it. We're excited. We've got a great group (of freshman) and more importantly, a great group of veterans that are leading the way and taking charge this summer."
Per NCAA rules, Stone cannot have any direct contact with athletes' offseason workouts, but she did have an opportunity to work with them at the seven basketball camps the team hosted this summer.
"So that's our work together," Stone said. "We can see each other. We can't monitor workouts, we can't see them working out. I'm anxiously awaiting the first day of school so I can see them again on the court. The bottom line is that we've had a great summer, we've worked very hard, we're very excited about it."
Excited for the season, that is, but not before a little R & R in Colorado.
"It's very helpful. I read a book and just relax and get some rest, recovering off July recruiting and camps and all the speaking engagements," Stone said. "Then when we get back, it's away we go again. I'd have it no other way. I love to be busy, I love to be active and that's just the way I am."
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