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NEW YORK (AP) — Kayla McBride was sitting and watching shootaround before Notre Dame's first game of the season against Fordham last week.
She admitted she was nervous even though her playing days for Muffet McGraw and the Irish are over. The former Notre Dame great is back on campus this winter as a player development program manager — a new position created this season.
"I'm really excited to be working with the team," McBride said. "It gives me a taste of what coaching may be like if it's something that I may want to do in the future."
McGraw said she approached McBride over the summer when she saw her star guard playing with the Las Vegas Aces in Chicago. McGraw said that Notre Dame had been offered a small stipend for an internship by the Women's Sports Foundation for a position that she thought McBride would be perfect for. The Hall of Fame coach said that the internship didn't work out the way it was worded, so she went to her bosses at Notre Dame and asked if they could still hire McBride. They agreed.
The Notre Dame coach made an impassioned speech at the Final Four last April about how more women need to be hired in women's basketball. This would be the perfect opportunity by bringing back McBride. McGraw hopes this could be something that other teams could do.
"I think it's a fantastic idea, they are floating it in the NCAAs," she said. "Great chance to keep women in the game. Former student-athletes who want to get into coaching. It's an entry level spot, but we're getting some resistance from the NCAA because of the financial component. We're still working on it."
McBride heard McGraw's speech last spring and happy to be back on campus.
"It means everything. Knowing she has confidence in the women she put through here. She built a great foundation here and we can uphold that. We want to be able to keep that going," McBride said. "Having former players is a different vibe. When the girls are talking to me, I can talk to them from a player's perspective."
McBride's exact role is still being determined. She won't be doing any on court activities and can't be involved in recruiting. She sees herself being able to talk to the players about their futures and provide counsel. She also sits in on film sessions and is learning things that potentially could help her down the road as a coach — if she wants to pursue that when her playing career is done.
"She's allowed to help the coaches and see the girls off the court in a mentoring capacity," McGraw said. "She watches the organization part of it. You're in the room so you're learning a lot of stuff. People don't know what coaches do, they just see the game prep. It's great for us."
The players have already enjoyed having McBride around.
"She has been great. She's been a great role model. She talks to us on the side and tells us little nit bits," said grad transfer Destinee Walker, who had 18 points in Monday night's loss to Tennessee. "She's been a great voice on the side because she's been there — she's currently playing in the WNBA. She knows what we need to do better at. It's great to have that other voice."
McBride said that she also will have a chance to rest. She's been playing for six years straight now in the WNBA and overseas.
"I'm at a point in my career where I have a couple great years still left in me and I want to maximize that," she said. "I have a great situation in Vegas and I want to maximize that and I needed to rest mentally and physically."
Working at Notre Dame also keeps McBride relatively close to her family. She's only 4½ hours away.
"We wanted to make it flexible as I have obligations as a pro," McBride said. "I wanted to come back and start dabbling in coaching. I'm still very competitive as a player, so coaching hadn't really crossed my mind. I'm really enjoying it. It's more about player development. Just the knowledge I have and being able to share that as a mentor to the girls. I'm able to do it in a place I feel comfortable. It feels like a second home to me. I can relax and refocus and continue to learn."
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