September 2016

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18 "(Stringer) knew we were struggling and she asked if there were any women on the team that really believed," Blevins said before answering with one word: absolutely. "She said, 'Keep those people close.'" Iowa rebounded to finish the season with 10 wins in its final 12 games. More importantly, the next season the Hawkeyes won 40 games and the school's first-ever Big Ten championship. "I can go back to the first year and think about taking a group of women who had never had the expectation that we had for them and see their growth," Blevins said. "It set up the next year (1989). If you look at the women who returned, their approach, belief, and attitude changed. e biggest difference was expectation and what they expected for themselves. Suddenly I had 15 who bought in and knew what it looked like and what it took." Mental training was something Blevins brought from Indiana and polished at Iowa. "For lots of young women, what I would explain to them is 'I don't look at you and see you as you presently are, I look at you and see you as the great athlete you can yet become,'" Blevins said. "We were a program that utilized that before others realized what a weapon it was. Why wouldn't you want to use your mind? I had athletes where you didn't want to watch their swing because it wasn't pretty. But she believed in herself and thought she could hit anybody she faced. at's someone you want at the plate, not the one with a perfect swing who has all these doubts going on." Since retiring from the UI following the 2010 season, Blevins remains close to soball by conducting camps, small group lessons, and speaking engagements. And she continues to acquire knowledge. "I don't care if you're in your first year or 35th year, there are things to learn," Blevins said. "at's what coaches do, you don't assume you have it all figured out. ere may be a point where I can teach that better or reach that person a little differently." Winning was a byproduct of Blevins' coaching style. But to her, the real reward of coaching was watching student-athletes grow, change, and gain confidence. Aer she had a taste of that, she experienced it over and over again.

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