Original article was published by HomeCourt Team on Artificial Intelligence on Medium
Folsom Lake College keeps competing virtually on HomeCourt.
The Folsom Lake College Falcons women’s basketball program held its inaugural season in 2017–18. On February 28, 2020, the team played in their first-ever postseason game.
Despite losing that night, the team had a bright future. Second-year coach, Ali Mollet, felt that the team would expand on their success.
Mollet always knew she would one day be a coach, and she said, “I have a notebook from when I was 15 that I kept from all my high school teams and club teams, where I wrote down my favorite plays and my favorite drills.”
“I’m so mad that HomeCourt didn’t exist when I was playing…something where I could see a way to track myself or compete with myself, like can I beat myself? From what I did yesterday? Can I make more shots than I did a week ago? I would have loved it.” — Ali Mollet
She was also excited about taking on a more prominent role for her players on and off the court “by creating opportunities for women to grow and develop and not only for the game like learning their skills and how to compete but also just as women, as more confident individuals and leaders,” Mollet said.
For Mollet, basketball has been a huge part of her life. She’s a member of her high school’s athletic hall of fame, holds the record for career assists, she played collegiately at Sacramento State, and then after her playing days ended, she went right into coaching.
Yet, just a few weeks later, COVID-19 forced a national shutdown that changed everything.
“I still haven’t physically seen my players since this whole thing started in March. Our school is still closed down.” — Ali Mollet
Even though she had firsthand experience playing in the NCAA and spent time as an assistant coach at Sacramento City College and Chico State — where her teams made the NCAA Tournament and were ranked as high as eighth — nothing in her basketball career could’ve prepped her for this.
However, she didn’t have to look far for advice, “My brother [Arron Mollet] works for HomeCourt, and you know, even when he first got exposed to it, he was the one that’s like hey, this app is pretty cool. You might want to use it for your team,” Mollet said.
After her brother told her about the app, Mollet moved quickly to test it out.
Before the global pandemic, Mollet had already begun to use HomeCourt with her team.
Mollet said, “I definitely could see that it would be valuable for my program, and we started using it in the springtime when the season was over, and we were just getting into the gym and getting shots up, and my team loved it.”
However, it wasn’t just the recommendation from her brother that sold Mollet; the players immediately bought into the new form of training.
“The thing that they enjoyed most about it was that they could see their progress.” — Ali Mollet
The players enjoyed most tracking their progression over time — each use of the app brought on more data and information to improve their skill set.
With players spread out across the country, Mollet “HomeCourt has been a huge tool that we’ve used.”
The distance didn’t stop her team from putting in work.
With full access to all of the drills, challenges, and other assets that HomeCourt offers, players used the app day and night, literally, “It’s amazing. I had girls out on the driveway till like 10 p.m. trying to get their score ready for the next day,” Mollet said.
The intensity that each player brought to their workouts on HomeCourt was a driving force behind everyone’s continued use in the program.
“How do you Bond as a team? How do you create team chemistry?…we have used HomeCourt for that, and it’s helped at a ton.” — Ali Mollet
The team’s group chat, which featured players and coaches, was always abuzz as the leaderboard continuously changed.
Mollet described the non-stop updates that she would receive, “Somebody would get a high score, and they would text the group and say ‘beat you guys, now what?’ and then 10 minutes later you get a text from somebody else that says ‘you’re going to have to go back outside because I just beat you!’”
The competition was not only helping the players get better, but it was also bringing the team closer together.
One of the significant parts of offseason and preseason workouts is that it gives everyone who is part of the program time to gel and build camaraderie.
Mollet said that HomeCourt was a great way to keep the team engaged, “the biggest thing is it was a motivator. It got them going, and then now I think the thing that the girls love about it most now is it allows them to compete when they can’t be in person.”
They all saw the commitment of each of their teammates; Mollet said this locked-in attitude of her team was evident, “they loved the ball-handling ones, and those were the most fun for them because they could do them quickly and do them anywhere; I had players in their kitchens and bedrooms.”
“There are so many things that we’ve developed now for our program that we’re going to continue to use after the fact —we would never be challenged to create these ideas before.” — Ali Mollet
On top of the individual work and drills that players could take part in, the Falcons also split the players into different groups.
Mollet structured the workouts to include “both a shooting competition and a ball-handling competition each week,” and they “typically have four teams…of four players on each team.”
Moving forward, the team is unlikely to be together again until 2021.
According to Mollet, “we’re scheduled to start in January and get a plan in February where our fingers are crossed that we get to come back to campus, maybe as soon as October, but it’s still up in the air.”
Having HomeCourt has allowed for constant and consistent messaging on the expectations of everyone on the team.
The time spent on HomeCourt will serve as the foundation for what the program will be another year in the postseason.
“I have a great group of girls; I give them credit for being super coachable.” — Ali Mollet
Mollet will also be working with other Folsom Lake students, “I am going to be teaching a general education basketball class. And so I’m going to use HomeCourt with my students and be able to facilitate some competition for them,” Mollet said.
She has taught the class previously at Folsom Lake, but this will be the first year she holds it virtually.
“I’m excited to expose not just my team to it, but other students who maybe are more beginners that don’t know the game as well,” Mollet said.
To help the general education students better grasp the sport and track their development, Mollet will once again turn to HomeCourt.
“We’re going to do the same type of things where we’re doing dribble competitions. And the other thing that I love about HomeCourt is it has some built-in coaching,” Mollet said, “students can watch some of the videos, learn how to do specific drills— they’re going to get a lot out of it.”
At Folsom Lake College, HomeCourt helps all community members learn the game of basketball better.