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Jimmies women's basketball take motivation from book club

The Jimmies separate by class to read different motivational books from the author Jon Gordon

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Since University of Jamestown women’s basketball head coach Thad Sankey’s second year at the helm, the Jimmies have had a book club. The team separates by class year to read different books to talk about the books and how they apply to their individual lives. All of the books are by the same author, Jon Gordon.

The book club was started by Sankey at one of his previous stops, when he was the head coach of Concordia University (Mich.).

“The book club, that started when I was in Ann Arbor and I had just read Jon Gordon’s stuff, it’s really good. It’s uplifting, it’s to the point, they are great stories. So, they’re the type of books that college students will read throughout the semester and not feel like they are reading a textbook …. The intro to it was picking up the books and reading them for myself and realizing, ‘oh, hey this would be really good,’ and initially I had a couple of individual players that I said, ‘Hey you should read this,’ and then they came back and said, 'Oh this would be really good to read,'” Sankey said. “So, we started that and it is something that we’ve been able to continue here and we’ve found that certain books work better for certain age groups.”

The freshman book is called "Energy Bus," while the sophomore’s book is called "Training Camp." The upperclassmen are reading "The Seed" and the lone senior, Noelle Josephson, will be reading "Carpenter."

Sankey does not read all of the books with each class, as he reads with the freshmen and Josephson. Sankey’s assistant coaches, Ryan Carpenter and Chris Burks, split the other two classes with Burks taking the sophomores and Carpenter reading alongside the third-year players.

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The decision to read a different book for each scholastic year was a decision that Sankey made based on which group would get the most out of each respective book. The players also get out of the book different things depending on the individual person.

“I think what I have gotten from talking to players about it, each one of them has their own story, each one of them has their own path of why they are here at Jamestown, and each one of them has their own challenges that they are dealing with," Sankey said. "Some of them are still flying high because they haven’t felt like anything has gone wrong yet in college. Everybody has a different way that the books resonate with them. I think that flexibility and that ability to apply to people in different situations, I think that’s one of the biggest things they take out of it.”

The book club meetings are important for the team to get away from the floor and speak about their lives outside of being college basketball players, Sankey said.

Being the only senior, Josephson expects her meetings with Sankey to be more personal and tailored to her, especially compared to her previous years when she was in a group alongside multiple other classmates.

"I expect it to be a lot more centered on my own thoughts on the book and going deeper into what the book is saying and having deeper conversations rather than just listening to everyone," Josephson said.

The books allow the coaches and the players to build relationships with one another.

“I think initially it impacts players a little bit more individually because they are reading it and as they are reading it they are applying it to their lives and then to be able to compound that individual approach and to add it to our team…. We teach our girls in a lot of ways,” Sankey said. “We are basketball coaches but we spend a lot of time with our girls and so the book club is a part of that.”

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