This is the second interview of a former Lobo WBB player I have been fortunate enough to do this off season, and hopefully I will get a few more in during the summer. Bryce Owens was one of the obvious players I wanted to reach out to for a few reasons.
First, she is active on Twitter, so I have been able to follow her past season at Crandall Middle School. And she seems to be impressing some people since she was recognized as the Texas Class 4A 2019 Girls Middle School Coach of the Year (https://tabchoops.org/awards/assistant-and-middle-school-coaches-of-the-year/)
Second, she was one of the most exciting point guards I watched in her four seasons at UNM—the first one who constantly pushed the ball up-court and started the transition from the Mandi Moore/Amy Begin kind of point guard to the Cherise Beynon/Aisia Robertson kind. And personally, Bryce’s second season was when my work situation changed and I was able to attend a number of the practices, so I had the chance to see her more, and talk with her more than previous Lobo players. When I reached out to her and she agreed to do this interview I was very pleased about it. After listening to her replied during the interview, I am even happier that she agreed to do it.
All photos from Bryce Owens unless otherwise noted
However Bryce was more than a player who happened to be fast—she has put her name in the UNM record books across the phases of the game. The first thing I remember about her are the assists. She is 7th all-time in Lobo assists, one of only six players to lead the team in assists three or more seasons. And one of only two players to have 90+ assists in all four seasons, one of only three to have 100+ assists as a freshman.
She stands at number six all-time in steals, and as with her assist numbers, the steals started right away. She had 51 steals as a freshman, 5th most ever, and led the team in steals that season.
As a scorer, Bryce played on teams that were focused more on defense than outscoring opponents, but she still wound up with 928 points in her career, topping 200 points each season. She is 10th in career three-point field goal made.
While point guards are not primarily know for big rebounding totals, Bryce is one of only two Lobo guards to have a dozen-plus rebounds in a MWC game.
A link to an old Bryce video clip:
Joe: Good evening, Bryce. It has been three years since you finished your Lobo playing career, and you have returned to Texas. I understand you are coaching now—how did that come about? What led you to coaching?
Bryce: Well my original plan was to get my Journalism degree and sit right in between Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith on TNT when they do their pregame, halftime, and post-game analysis shows. I was going to be the first woman to join their commentating group. (Well I guess I still could be later in the future!) But half way through my junior year that changed. I knew I did not want to give up being in the gym and around basketball 24/7, so I knew my next step was to get into coaching.
Joe: Almost every coach I have talked to said their first year coaching was the year they learned the most about their sport. Was that true with you?
Bryce: So I have just finished my 2nd year of teaching and coaching. In between my 1st and 2nd year I took a break from teaching/coaching and wanted to see if it was really what I wanted to do. So I took a job as a sports performance specialists at a youth training facility. I would say so far this is where I have learned the most about basketball and really sports in general. Especially, the strength and conditioning aspect of it! The best part was that I got to work with kids from multiple sports backgrounds like basketball, tai kwan do, tennis, track, baseball/softball, etc. It was an amazing experience. I learned so much about the technicalities of speed and agility and breaking down and teaching movements in the weight room. There is so much that goes into it that I did not take advantage of in college and I am now trying to implement that into our program here at Crandall!
Joe: What are the major pieces of your coaching philosophy, and where did they come from
Bryce: Two major pieces are: communication among my athletes and building camaraderie! These are two things I value the most about coaching and believe that they are extremely essential to have within a team. I believe these values came from my own experiences as a player and seeing how crucial they are to making or breaking a team.
Joe: At UNM you followed one year of Jasmine Patterson as a transfer point guard, and one year of a post-injury Nicky Nelson. You brought some stability for four seasons, but you also brought a faster, more aggressive point guard style than UNM had seen for the previous 15 years, and that has carried over with Cherise after you left and she became the point guard. Do you try and teach your players to play fast and attacking?
Bryce: Oh of course! But with playing fast and attacking also comes knowing when the right times are in the game for that. Not every possession is a fast-paced attack possession so it’s very important for my players to know when to floor it and when to be patient and let the offense settle.
Joe: While most your UNM reputation is focused on assists and steals—you are in the top seven career lists in both categories—you also still have entries in the record books for scoring and rebounding. How did you make yourself into such a well-rounded player?
Bryce: I owe a lot of credit to my dad, if not all of it. I can remember him coaching me since I was a little girl. My father has an amazing talent for the game of basketball as well as coaching it. He made sure my right hand was just as good, if not better, than my left since I am left-handed. He made sure as the point guard I was responsible for learning different parts of the floor, knowing the plays, playing consistent defense, and knowing how to control the pace of the game. He also did not hesitate to move me around the perimeter to play the 2 or the 3 guard, but unfortunately never the post position! Now that doesn’t mean that I did not have other coaches in my life that did not impact my game, but my dad put in the most time and effort to get me to where I am today! Whatever my dad was unable to teach me, he made sure that he found someone who could!
Joe: This past season your basketball team at Crandall Middle School had a very good season. How does it feel to win games as a coach vs how it feels to win games as a player?
Bryce: The feeling is still equally as great. As a competitor winning is winning no matter the position you are in. Of course I always wish I could regain some eligibility and get out on the court with them, but I know that now my purpose is to coach and teach the next generation of athletes!
Joe: What do you consider the most important things to teach players at that age? What advice do you give those who want to keep playing?
Bryce: I would say the most important thing to teach them at the middle school age is to take your time, not to panic in the game or practice and that repetition, details, and communication are our best friends!
Joe: Your signature line says you also fill a lot of other roles at Crandall: volleyball coach, track coach, and PE. I seem to remember you ran track (at least I think I remember that). Did you also play volleyball? How do those three sports differ as a coach? (I played 25 years of competitive volleyball before my knees gave out, and love the sport.)
Bryce: I ran track in junior high school so 7th and 8th grade, but once I got to high school I was strictly basketball. Plus Desoto High School girls track team was pretty hard to make since they had and still have so much speed! The girls have won 7 state track titles in the last 9 years, so I just stuck to my strength which is basketball (haha). I actually never played volleyball for a legitimate team, just for fun. Our sand volleyball games at Lobo Village always got competitive. Honestly, these sports don’t differ too much to me, obviously I know that each one is different but a lot of the fundamental moves that go into basketball also go into volleyball. When it comes to track I coach high jump (which is one of the events I did in JH) and hurdles (never attempted hurdles) so I am still learning how to coach hurdles properly!
Joe: The non-athletic title you have is “Teen Leadership”. That in many ways sounds like the most important—and most challenging—of your roles. What does that involve?
Bryce: This class is an elective so I try to make this class as relaxed as possible. I know that dealing with 7th and 8th graders they can get a little bit boggled down by the stress load of the day so I want my class (TL) to be a class where they can have a little fun but also practice the basic skills of life. This past year we learned how to write checks, the process for getting into college, a bunch of group projects, we also filmed some videos (creativity was solely up to them), and practiced some ELAR skills!
Joe: What advice/guidance do you give the students about growing and surviving as a teen?
Bryce: I try to relate what they may be going through to what I have already been through at their age, I do my best to provide a solution and break down the process of the consequences and allow them to make the decision for themselves
Joe: What are the hardest parts of the job? The most rewarding?
Bryce: The hardest parts would probably be waking up around 5:30am every day, but the most rewarding part of that is having practice at the very beginning of the day and the very end of it! So I don’t have to wait until the afternoon to get to practice (the good stuff). Another amazing part of the job is getting to work with kids, I love my kids they make coming to school every day completely worth it!
Joe: What other interests do you have you done that Lobo fans probably do not know?
Bryce: I spend way too much time shopping for clothes and shoes (haha), and I still workout 4-5 days a week and play pickup with the middle school and high school girls as much as I possibly can. All of my interests involve being active (haha).
Joe: Where do you see yourself 5 or 10 years from now? What are your long-term goals?
Bryce: Oh great question lets break it down! My next step is to be a varsity assistant coach (I was previously a varsity assistant coach my first year out of college when I began teaching and coaching, was also the JV coach). 2nd step is to be a Head Girls Varsity Coach (major goal) and my ultimate goal is to be a Head Boys Varsity Coach!