INDIANAPOLIS-Alaina Coates has experienced the peaks that most people dream of, but to find herself again, the Indiana Fever center will have to look closely in the mirror and analyze the valley.
He couldn’t run what he felt, not after all he had been through. So, to save his career, Coates temporarily neglected it.
“Not playing last year, I just took that personally, but not in a bad way. I had to work on my own,” Coates said. “… I feel like I’ve done so much. I’m working really hard to get back here.”
While Coates stood at the baseline on the court in practice in Fever Thursday – about two years after his last WNBA game with the Washington Mystics in 2020 – he removed the curtain on his retirement from the league in 2021. During that time ‘y rest, he got a therapist and made his mental health a priority. It was the first time Coates had truly explored the highs and lows of his life.
In a two-year span, he went from winning a national championship in South Carolina and being drafted second overall at Chicago Sky in 2017, until losing his entire rookie season. due to injury to the right spine and has his 55-year-old father. , Gary, died of a cardiac arrest on March 13, 2018-more than two months before he made his WNBA debut.
True, Coates said he wasn’t in the right place to head at the start of his professional career, and as he tried to keep it up, he finally realized that keeping his foot on the gas pedal was not the answer.
“I take (my mental health) seriously, but I don’t take it as seriously as I should,” Coates said. “And at one point I was like, ‘You know what? I think this is what I really feel I need to do to help me get back to where I used to be.’ I’m so glad I knew that because there were so many.My dad passed away and never saw any of my WNBA careers, and how it turned out.It’s my fifth team in four years, so I said, ‘It has to change.’ And I know that a big part of what can change starts with me. ”
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Coates said it wasn’t easy to deal with the feelings he had previously tried to suppress, but as a result he made sure he became a better person and player.
The 6-4 center returned to the court in October 2021, competing abroad for Nesibe Aydın GSK in the EuroCup and Turkish Super League. Coates averaged 14.9 points and 12.8 rebounds in 10 EuroCup games, and 17.9 points and 12.9 rebounds in 29 Turkish Super League games.
Fever noticed Coates ’stellar play and signed him in February. He missed the first three games of the season while finishing in Turkey and became part of the active roster on Wednesday. Coates was held to a road win on Friday against New York Liberty as he reaclimated to the team.
Indiana hosted the Atlanta Dream on Sunday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, which is likely Coates ’debut. The 27-year-old believes it will mark an important point in his career.
“I just want to show people that there is a new account behind my name,” Coates said. “I know a lot has been said about me over the years, with different teams and never really doing all those things, but that doesn’t matter. I use that as motivation. You can say what you want. you about me., but what you can’t say from now on is, ‘He’s not going to work well anymore,’ because I made sure it was a complete change when I went through what I went through. “
Coates still goes to therapy and has virtual sessions all the time. She hopes that by being transparent about her struggles, it will break the stigma of mental health and empower others to seek the help they need.
“Mental health is just as important as physical well -being,” Coates said. “… And I feel like if you know a lot of things are going on and maybe you need help, you should go. There’s nothing wrong with it. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s just a little bit of someone. We’re everyone.We all have emotions.We all have feelings, and life can sometimes be overwhelming.I know for me, going into therapy has many reasons that I don’t know about.I deal with , and it has helped me get to where I am today.
Follow IndyStar Pacers beat writer James Boyd on Twitter: @RomeovilleKid. He can be reached by email: [email protected]