Love of Basketball Brings Assistant Women’s Coach Back to Game
Esteban Bustillos, managing editor of The Mercury — the student newspaper at UT Dallas — wrote this article.
Mallory McAdams (left), with head coach Polly Thomason, has been an assistant coach for the UT Dallas women’s basketball team for the past three seasons. She is in charge of strength and conditioning. (Photo by Andrew Gallegos/The Mercury Contributor)
Mallory McAdams didn’t think she was going to be a basketball coach.
After her playing days at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor were over, she spent several years trying to find the ideal physical therapist job. Even though McAdams worked at a physical therapy clinic, her goal was to work with patients who had just come out of surgery.
“I applied to literally every single hospital in Dallas and didn’t get a call back,” she said.
It was during that time she realized she wanted to get back into the game. McAdams reached out to UT Dallas women’s basketball coach Polly Thomason to let her know she was available to work as a coach.
Three years later, she is still in the game as Thomason’s assistant.
Her road to UT Dallas started when she picked up basketball as a child in Robinson, a small suburb of Waco. She played many sports as a child, but she enjoyed basketball the most.
“I just had a particular passion for it,” she said. “I loved the way the game was exciting. I felt natural in the game. … I just loved basketball because it was intense competition from tip to buzzer.”
Basketball brought out her competitive side more than anything else, she said. Despite her love of the game, McAdams went to McClennan Community College on a golf scholarship.
“I clicked with [golf] as well,” she said. “It came naturally to me. It was different because it taught me a lot about myself, on learning how to control my emotions and stuff like that. Mainly, my dad got me into it, and everybody was like, ‘Dang, you’re pretty good. You might want to keep doing this.’ ”
“My biggest goal is I want our girls to leave here and be like, ‘That was awesome!’ I want them to have a good experience. I want them to leave here and cherish everything about the experience they had because that’s what it’s all about.”
She played golf during her first year at McClennan, but it started to burn her out. Plus, McAdams wanted to return to basketball. She said she knew that if she was putting in a substantial amount of time and effort for a game, she wanted it to be on the hardwood.
Unfortunately, McAdams had spent an entire year away from basketball, making it much more difficult for her to be recognized by college coaches.
Luckily, Kim Kirkpatrick, a coach from a rival high school who had seen McAdams play in her prep days, had recently gotten a job at UMHB. McAdams’ former high school coach contacted Kirkpatrick, who invited McAdams to play for her.
But taking a year off didn’t help with McAdams’ transition to college basketball. She was used to playing every minute of every game, but she hardly got a minute of playing time in her rookie season, she said.
“I barely saw the floor, and when I did, it was not good,” she said. “I was just kind of scatterbrained. I was trying to figure it all out, and I was angry because I wasn’t doing what I thought I could do.”
McAdams contemplated quitting, but she said she pushed herself through because this was something she knew she had to do. The summer after her first year at UMHB, she worked to improve her game and became the team’s starting point guard the next season.
At UMHB, McAdams, who earned her master’s degree in education, helped the Crusaders to several monumental victories, including the school’s first ASC Western Division championship. The team also ended Howard Payne University’s home-court winning streak, which had lasted more than a season.
Thomason, who coached against McAdams while she was at UMHB, said seeing her play encouraged her to bring her on as an assistant coach when the spot became open.
As of Friday, the UT Dallas women's basketball team had a 12-2 record, including 8-1 in American Southwest Conference play. Here are the upcoming home games for the Comets:
5:30 p.m. – UT Tyler
Saturday, Jan. 24
1 p.m. – Ozarks
Thursday, Feb. 5
5:30 p.m. – Louisiana College
Thursday, Feb. 19
5:30 p.m. – Mary Hardin-Baylor
Saturday, Feb. 21 (Senior Day)
1 p.m. – Concordia
“She was a great leader for her team,” Thomason said. “Inspirational, motivational, always played hard. Tough-nosed. Just one of those kids you wished you could have coached because she worked her tail off every game, every possession.”
Thomason said she wanted to find someone who could match her work ethic and had a desire to help build the program, something she saw in McAdams.
As a member of the coaching staff, McAdams is in charge of strength and conditioning for the team. She said her background in physical therapy helps with that part of the job. McAdams’ personality has also helped.
“[The players] will come to 6 a.m. practice and Christmas music is blaring, and that’s when it’s not Christmastime,” she said. “I’m very energetic. I try to be positive. I try to get them going whenever it’s not easy to get them going.”
The personal support she offers players is another part of the job that McAdams said she has realized is crucial.
McAdams said she still believes she has a lot to learn about the profession and that she isn’t ready to entertain thoughts of becoming a head coach just yet. Still, she thinks she is in a good position, especially because her goals and the goals of the program match up.
“My biggest goal is I want our girls to leave here and be like, ‘That was awesome!’ I want them to have a good experience,” she said.
“I want them to leave here and cherish everything about the experience they had because that’s what it’s all about. That’s the number one part of our philosophy and that’s what I try to do.”
Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].