“Infectious and Positive Energy” – Florida Gators

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GAINESVILLE, Florida – When Julie Danielson played AAU basketball in Wisconsin, she was a 5-foot-7 player. The scouts came to see her team’s games, but not her. They were there to see the 6 feet she was guarding. She might have been one of the shortest players on the team, but Danielson bounced back, defended and played aggressively. The size difference only motivated her to play harder.

And dream bigger.

It hasn’t changed.

“I approach a lot of things in life as a challenge,” said Danielson, now 26 and video coordinator for the Florida men’s basketball team. “I see it as a challenge [of] enter the coaching profession. ”

Step into a UF workout and here’s Danielson, head on a pivot, cell phone open to the calculator, counting the free throws players shoot on six hoops during a two-minute drill. When they’re done, she trades the numbers with another staff member and yells the total to the whole gym.

“Seventy-three out of ninety,” she barks. “Seventy-nine percent!

Not good enough. Eighty percent is needed, so the Gators are heading to the baseline to execute a penalty sprint.

She’s the only woman in the gym – and fearless by the ratio.

“You don’t realize it,” Danielson said. “You don’t think about it.”

Danielson has been rising through the basketball ranks since his freshman year at the University of Wisconsin. She was a student and graduate director for the UW basketball team for six years when she was part of the back-to-back Final Fours in 2014-15. She was there in Indianapolis when the Badgers ruined Kentucky’s 38-0 quest for an unbeaten NCAA semifinal season in ’15. She was at Madison Square Garden two years later when Chris Chiozza walked the length of the floor and hit a 3-point float to the buzzer in the 2017 “Sweet 16”.

[Note: As a Gator now working for head coach Mike White, she’s not as upset about that one.]

Training gym scorers table serves as video coordinator Julie Danielson’s command post two hours a day.

It was in 2013, a day before the application deadline, when a friend suggested Danielson apply for a UW director position. At the time, she was considering a pre-law degree, but Danielson was among six students chosen and the only woman, despite no connection to the basketball program, when she got the role during her first year. year.

Danielson said Katherine Vosters, the former director of basketball operations in Wisconsin, has been a fantastic mentor to navigate this new venture. Because Danielson began aspiring to be a coach rather than working in administration, Vosters urged her to focus on play-oriented roles.

In 2020-2021, only three women (two in Division I, one in the NAIA) were employed as full-time assistant coaches in men’s college basketball, according to The Miami Herald. Juxtapose that to the NBA, where the San Antonio Spurs’ Becky Hammon played the pioneering role by being hired as a full-time assistant in 2014. A dozen women have been hired into NBA assistant positions since 2017.

As if coaching wasn’t a difficult profession to tackle, regardless of gender.

In the summer of 2019, Florida received some 500 applicants for an Assistant Scout position. Bryce douglas, the special assistant to the head coach of UF, called 20 of them to talk about the job. One of them was Danielson.

“His personality was really contagious,” said Douglas. “His enthusiasm has rubbed off on me.

During an interview, Douglas showed Danielson a diagram with basketball games and asked him to break down the responsibility of each player. Very rarely does someone go 5-for-5. Danielson identified them perfectly.

She knew it would be a tough job to land, but maintained her optimism and positivity.

“You can get 99 ‘no’s, but all you need is a’ yes’,” she said.

Of the 500, she was one of two to get the job.

Bryce douglas

Now, Douglas wants to involve Danielson even more. The staff even talked about getting her behind the bench for matches. With the combination of Danielson’s knowledge and intelligence, his hiring has been a blessing for UF.

“She’s here because she deserved it,” said Douglas. “I wouldn’t say that if it was a random person doing just a job. She sure goes above and beyond.”

Much like the importance of having a female mentor in the industry, Danielson believes it is equally vital to have the support of the men she works with. She said the UF staff are special in this regard.

“They are so open to talking about basketball with me,” Danielson said. “I appreciate it so much because having this open communication and the tone that is set in the offices is so positive [and] makes the daily work amazing. I really like.”

Speaking of White’s support as she pursues her goals away from her family brought tears to Danielson’s eyes. White always includes it, she says. When she walks into the training hall, the head coach yells, “Hey Jewelz, how are you? “

In return, White also had great things to say about “Jewelz”.

“Every day she brings incredible and positive energy,” White said.

In her role as video coordinator, Danielson prepares opponent scout reports. For example, with the Gators set to take on Embry-Riddle in Monday night’s exhibition game and season debut at Exactech Arena, she’ll work directly with the coaches to spot the Eagles and break down the movie to show to the Gators. Detailed reports and trends for each player (left handed, likes to pretend, prefers midrange, can go right, weak grip, etc.), and provides key stats. Each UF player gets the scout report through an app they can study on their phone or tablet before the game. She will do it 32 times this season. Preferably more.

Through her role of UF, Danielson has learned to see the game from a video point of view, instead of focusing more on tasks when working as a manager. As she continues to improve her knowledge of the X’s and O’s, the staff embrace and embrace her thirst to learn more about the company.

“They’re very receptive to my asking questions and that’s part of the learning process,” Danielson said. “Since I’ve been here I’ve seen so much progress in myself, because I’ve been able to learn from Bryce, learn from the coaches, sit with Bryce and ask him question after question and develop that knowledge.”

Danielson envisions one day being able to take everything she’s learned and apply it as a coach. His next step will be to teach the game to the players. For now, however, she finds it hard to believe that she is an essential part of a large-scale program, in a place with a good school spirit like Florida, and working for a team that she does. (as an 11 and 12-year-old) had to beg her dad to let her stay up late to watch her win back-to-back national championships.

“It amazes me that all of this happened when I was so young,” Danielson said.

Her advice for young women chasing their dreams is to connect with other women in their industry. A male support group is also extremely vital. Danielson has this with the UF staff, but was also encouraged by her father and brother, who came to Indy last March to watch his Gators (and their badgers) play in the NCAA tournament “bubble”.

Male-dominated roles may initially seem closed to women, Danielson said, but the more visible women become in such roles, the more young women will see those roles for themselves.

Danielson has forged a kind, friendly and respectful relationship with the UF players.

Some might wonder if Danielson feels intimidated by guys who tend to be 6-6 and over. Well, on her first day of training in Wisconsin, she was intimidated by 7-foot All-America center Frank Kaminsky (now with the Phoenix Suns). That bullying rebounded when she walked onto the basketball court and bounced back for him.

Like the UW players, the Gators have been kind, friendly and respectful.

“The group of guys that we have and have had is so open,” Danielson said. “They are always trying to improve which is so great to see from this generation.”

She doesn’t just cut videos for them either. She cuts music too. “DJ Jewelz,” as it’s called, often makes better playlists than even gamers.

“Jewelz is on it, I’m telling you,” graduate transfer guard Brandon McKissic said of the tunes blowing in the gym when the guys get up from the punches. “Best DJ in America.”

Now what about those old days trying to keep 6 feet? How many players Danielson defended are in their ninth year of D-1 basketball? Turns out Danielson, at 5-7, is the one standing.

Challenge accepted.


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