Home » Health » Lithuanian working in the NCAA team: about the beginning of his career, the loudest victory and the style of training

Lithuanian working in the NCAA team: about the beginning of his career, the loudest victory and the style of training

Vilnius resident Radvilė Autukaitė (29 years old) – a basketball professional, competent, hardworking, looking to work with special care and responsibility, works in a prestigious NCAA University team. No Lithuanian has ever worked in an NCAA organization of this level. Radvilė has been awarded the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) basketball player several times for the best achievements in science and sports, and has also received the AAC (American Athletic Conference) award for respect, athleticism, leadership and human qualities on the basketball court.

Radvilė’s path to basketball began at Vilnius Basketball School. In her age group born in 1991, she was a prominent player. Radvilė and her team dominated the School Basketball League, and later, when invited to play in the Lithuanian youth teams, she was one of the most productive players. While in the 11th grade, R.Autukaitė went to study and play basketball in Holdernes, a private school in New Hampshire (USA). A graduate of Holderness in 2011. entered the University of Virginia, where he chose a field of business studies. He played basketball here but suffered an injury.

Paradoxically, a new career page has opened up after an injury. The University of Virginia coach suggested Radville train the girls ’team. Although she enjoyed working with the children’s team, the girl tried to apply at the university level. 2014 Radvilė continued her studies at Reinhardt University in Georgia, 2015–2017. – Webber University, Florida, where he earned a master’s degree in business administration in sports management and worked there for some time. At Webber University, the coach’s work began with girls of university age. A little later, R.Autukaitė, after seeing a job advertisement at the University of Virginia Tech, sent her CV and was soon invited to work as a coach. Interestingly, American student basketball programs are on par with even the best clubs in the Euroleague.

Virginia Tech is one of the best universities in the United States, offering over 60 different disciplines with many different disciplines, and Virginia Tech scholars not only have the opportunity to study and play, but also receive full insurance, meals, and 24-hour open access. a top-notch training complex, sportswear, housing, coaching assistance or even private plane travel. We post a conversation with a promising, young basketball coach whose motivation, diligence and stubbornness to reach athletic heights is phenomenal. We wish her the best of luck!

– Tell me, how did your path turn to basketball?

– Basketball is a second religion for most people in Lithuania. Our family didn’t stand out in this respect: we were also big basketball fans. Dad, Rimantas in particular, was and is a huge fan of basketball. I was led together to play basketball with my friends, to watch Kaunas “Žalgiris” and Vilnius “Telekom” competitions. When it came time to choose extracurricular activities in first grade, I was going to entertaining dances, but the dance lessons didn’t last long and I asked my dad to find where I could attend basketball workouts. This is how my journey at Vilnius basketball school began. There were no age groups at that time, but coach Ina Revinskienė kindly allowed me to train with older girls. Although I had to compete with older players, it was a great experience. Yes, when I started training, my love for basketball only grew and became a part of my life.

– What pushed you to go to the US?

– Departure to the United States did not occur overnight. While still in 9th grade, I told my parents that I wanted to go out to study and play basketball in the US. They listened, of course, but said they needed to continue learning and playing sports well (smiles). At that time, older players from Vilnius basketball school started going to the USA and I wanted to follow their path. They returned to Lithuania in the summer and talked about living conditions, science, sports in the USA, and it became my dream. The biggest push was the knowledge that the United States provided the best conditions for science and sports. The sciences have always been extremely important to me, so it was a great opportunity to combine both.

– What did the US like the most? What was the hardest part?

– A lot has changed from the first year of life in the US to the present. The hardest part, of course, was breaking up with the family, even 10 years ago there was only Skype and email for communication. Not all smartphones were available, so the communication was completely different. Also my knowledge of English was minimal. It was harder to communicate, to understand. That was the hardest part in the beginning. But it didn’t take long to understand what conditions I had to study and play sports. I got into one of the best boarding schools in New England, Holderness Prep, where the conditions were amazing. I was fascinated by their system, how much they invest in students, the conditions that allowed them to improve in science and sports.

But most of all the years I spent in the U.S. were remembered by the people around me. From teammates, coaches, instructors to just people I had the opportunity to meet all the time in the US. While it’s important to talk about exceptional conditions, opportunities in the U.S., I think people and your environment are most affected by experiences and memories.

– What are your most memorable victories while still playing and already training the girls’ team? Have you won many trophies?

– Sweet victories in the game soon. Both while playing in Lithuania and coming to America. My age group in Lithuania was one of the best in our entire career at Vilnius Basketball School. I think I remembered not so much one victory as the ability of the whole team to stay at a height from an early age until we finished our careers at Vilnius Basketball School. It was a great team! To this day, we strive to stay in touch and communicate. And that’s far more important than any victories or trophies achieved together.

After switching to training, I could single out a few victories. One of the sweetest was achieved as soon as I started training girls who were only in 6th grade! Seeing the joy in their eyes was amazing! After going to university, I could really single out this victory at this year’s NCAA through March Madness, which we won against the Marquette University team. It was the return of the University of Virginia Tech team to the largest tournament in America since 2006, and winning the first competition was a very memorable event.

– What are the key differences you see in dealing with today’s young people compared to your generation? Are you a demanding coach?

– Great question! We talk a lot on this topic… We always say “but when we played, it wasn’t like that” (smiles). In fact, young people have changed a lot: their values, conversations, everyday life are different. Now in our interactions with young people every day we need to know what is fashionable on social networks, what kind of music is popular as these are important topics for young people. To keep the conversation going and to be able to find a language with the youth, you need to stay young (smiles).

The biggest generational difference is that current youth do not have the patience to wait for the results of their work. He wants the fastest results possible now and here. But we all know it doesn’t happen that fast. Impatience leads to lowered hands or finding where better. For example, there is currently a big movement among NCAA players from one university to another. Athletes come to university believing they will be key players, just like in high school, hoping for high personal results very soon. But now it often happens that they look for the easiest way and think that going to another university will change everything. But it is clear that no matter where I play sports, study or work, there will be work to be put into life and confidence in the process.

My demand is associated with discipline and hard work. I’m sure our job is to educate the player on the basketball court, but more importantly – off the field. I believe that the lessons learned on the field are applicable in life and vice versa. Sport is a great tool that can teach you many valuable skills, such as teamwork, managing your time, because being an athlete you need to be able to combine many different things during the day. So my demand “comes” from the desire to help players prepare for life when the ball stops bouncing (smiles).

– What is your free time after the coach’s work day?

– I would describe the work of a coach as a way of life that does not have working hours. It also includes constant answering of messages, phone calls, communication on social networks. However, having free time, I like to walk around nature, I allow myself to watch a good movie, I like to be with friends, I exercise for myself every morning to stay in shape (smiles). I like to travel when there is time and not during the basketball season.

– Would you like to get acquainted with basketball in other countries and go to another country? What goals or dreams do you have for the coming year?

– So far I have no plans to go to another country to train for the next year. But I interact with coaches from other countries. One of my job tasks is to look for talent from other countries for our Virginia Tech team. Through this, we have to communicate with coaches from most European countries, Australia and even African countries. After getting acquainted with them, they manage to talk about basketball, differences in work and learn from other systems.

Goals and dreams revolve around America and basketball here. I really enjoy working at the university because we are looking for players here in high school, they come to play at the university and then you see them growing and improving as athletes and as people for 4 years. When working in professional basketball, this cannot be seen because the players change often. My goals in America are to pursue further victories at the highest level by playing at the ACC Conference and working hard to rise in coach rankings. One of the dreams is to have the opportunity to work with Lithuanian basketball teams.

– How often do you return to Lithuania? How do you manage to maintain your Lithuanian identity while living in a foreign country? What do you miss most about Lithuania?

– I returned to Lithuania every summer for at least 2-3 months. But last summer on COVID-19, of course, the plans changed and I don’t think there will be a return this summer either. Family and friends in Lithuania help to maintain Lithuanian identity while living in a foreign country. I try to talk to family every day, as well as with friends as often as possible. My family and family are real Lithuanians.

I know they would never let me forget their roots, and I am grateful to them for that (smiles). Of course, I miss family and friends the most, but, in addition to people, I miss Lithuanian summers, Lithuanian nature, barbecues, food made by mother and grandmother, and walks around the center of Vilnius. Mostly these are sentimental memories. Lithuania is a wonderful country with a rich history, and it will always remain my country.

Deimantė ŽUKAUSKIENĖ, Project “Lithuanians of the World and Lithuania”

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