Indianapolis – Alaina Coates has seen peaks that most people only dream of, but to find itself again, the Indiana Fever Center had to take a hard look in the mirror and analyze the valleys.
She couldn’t get over what she was feeling, not after all she had been through. Therefore, in order to save her career, Coats temporarily let her go.
“I didn’t play last year, I took it personally, but not in a bad way,” Coates said. “I just needed to work on myself.” “…I feel so accomplished. I’ve worked so hard to get back here.”
While Coates stood on the Fever training ground on Thursday — nearly two years after her last WNBA game with the Washington Mystics in 2020 — she unveiled her hiatus from the league in 2021. During that time, she got a therapist and made her mental health a priority . This was the first time Coates really examined the ups and downs of her life.
In a span of two years, she went from winning a national championship in South Carolina and was placed second overall by the Chicago Sky in 2017, to missing her entire rookie season due to a right ankle injury and her 55-year-old father, Gary, dying of cardiac arrest. On March 13, 2018 – just over two months before her WNBA debut.
By her own admission, Coats said she wasn’t in the right place when she started her career, and as she was trying to move forward with it, she eventually realized that keeping her foot on the gas pedal wasn’t the answer.
“I took (my mental health) very seriously, but I didn’t take it as seriously as I should,” Coates said. And at one point I was like, ‘Do you know what?’ I think this is what I really feel I need to do to help get me back to where I used to be. “I was so glad I was able to realize that because it was a lot. My dad passed away and he wasn’t really able to see any of my WNBA career, and then how it’s been since then. This is my fifth team in four years, so I was like, ‘Something What must change.” And I know that a large part of what can change begins with me.
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Coates said it wasn’t easy to come to terms with the feelings she tried to suppress earlier, but as a result she’s sure she’s become a better person and player.
The 6-4 position returned to the field in October 2021, competing abroad for Nesibe Aydın GSK in the European Cup and Turkish Super League. Coats averaged 14.9 points and 12.8 rebounds in 10 matches of the European Cup, and 17.9 points and 12.9 rebounds in 29 matches in the Turkish Super League.
Coates’ star play was noticed and signed by The Fever in February. She missed the first three games of the season while finishing in Turkey and became an active member of the roster on Wednesday. Coates was ruled out for Friday’s road win against the New York Liberty as she acclimatizes to the team.
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Indiana hosts the Atlanta Dream Sunday at Ginbridge Fieldhouse, which will likely be the Coates’ debut. The 27-year-old believes that it will be a pivotal point in her career.
“I just want to show people that there’s a new story behind my name,” Coates said. “I know a lot has been said about me over the years, with different teams and not really production and all that stuff, but it doesn’t really matter. I use that as motivation. You can say whatever you want about me, but what you can’t say from this moment on is,” it You’re not going to work hard ’cause I made sure it was a complete change when I went through what I went through.”
Coates still goes to therapy and will have virtual sessions all season. She hopes that by being transparent about her struggles, it will break the stigma around mental health and enable others to seek the help they need.
“Mental health is just as important as physical fitness,” Coates said. “…and I feel that if you realize that a lot of things are going on and you might need help, you should go. There is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing to be embarrassed about. It does not make you less of a person. We are all human. We all have feelings. We all have Feelings, and life can get overwhelming at times. I know, for me, going into therapy there were a lot of basic things I didn’t realize until I was dealing with it, and it helped me get into the space I’m in today.”
Follow the Indy Star Pacers beat writer James Boyd on Twitter: @RomeovilleKid. You can reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.