Words are merely symbols that try to represent what people see, hear and do. And although oftentimes these representations are accurate, there are times when even words fall short and cannot describe someone to their full extent. One such person is Wisconsin women’s basketball assistant coach Alysiah Bond, who through her many accomplishments and personality traits has the ability to leave people mesmerized.
But more often than that, Bond leaves her players and fellow coaches smiling and laughing, especially a player with whom she works often, senior point guard Tiera Stephen.
“Coach Alysiah is a character. People say that we’re twins. We act alike kind of. I guess that’s a compliment,” Stephen joked, but with all kidding aside had this to say of her assistant coach. “But, man, I love coach Alysiah. She has helped me grow so much. It’s probably more between me and her.
“A lot of people probably don’t even know that because it’s more personal. She pulls me aside all the time. We make eye contact and I already know what she’s going to tell me. She just knows the point guard position so much being a former college player at Ohio State.”
However, there’s much more to Bond than her background as a coach and former player at Ohio State than meets the eye. Yes, she played point guard for the Buckeyes from 1991 to 1995 – helping her team to a runner-up finish in the 1993 NCAA championship game – and served as director of basketball operations under Hall of Fame head coach Pat Summitt at Tennessee from 1998 to 2001, but those are only a small part of her sports experiences. Almost right out of college she worked at the Big Ten headquarters in Chicago, and then used connections while at Tennessee to land a job in the television industry.
Bond explained how the opportunity developed and her reporting and color analyst duties, among other things, that soon ensued.
“The guy who was the director of broadcasting [at Tennessee] used to work at the local station there. He was the main sports anchor at that station. A position opened up. I had actually called a few games as a color analyst for the university. I put a resume tape together, sent it into the station with his good word and they invited me in to do an actual on-set run through and from there it kind of progressed. I was just super fortunate because so many people have to start in a very, very small market. I was in Knoxville, Tennessee. That was an incredible start for me,” Bond said.
While working for NBC affiliate WBIR in Knoxville, Bond learned nearly all phases of the television news process, and even anchored the weekend and morning newscasts along with her sports anchor duties. Bond also spent time as a color analyst with Comcast Sports Southeast for Tennessee women’s basketball. Then in 2003 she moved to Columbus, Ohio, to work for the NBC affiliate, WCMH, and cover her alma mater.
After a year in Columbus, Bond moved back into the game of basketball as a coach, and in 2011 found her way to Wisconsin as an assistant under new head coach Bobbie Kelsey.
Bond certainly has the basketball knowledge and experience to be a head coach, but when asked if she wants to be a head coach, she answered with a firm no, relishing in the aspects of her role as an assistant.
“I appreciate and enjoy the dynamic that an assistant coach can have with the student-athlete because it’s kind of like you can be the aunt or the big sister, and mom is sitting in there in the big hot seat,” Bond said, while adding this, unselfishly about her role. “I simply do things for the joy of it. I’m not a money, status or power person or a title person, but I do respect everyone who elects to pursue [the head coach] path. It’s just not something that I’ve ever desired to do.”
As “aunt” or “big sister” to her players, Bond sees her role as a teacher for her players, and not just a teacher of the game of basketball, but also of life.
“I’m really enjoying this. What I enjoy so much about it, is the ability to impact young people and remind them of how strong they can be when they are confident, when they put in work, and when they believe in themselves. That carries over to life, not just basketball skills,” Bond said.
“One of the main things that I always said, if I ever coached was that I wanted to be the type of coach that I wanted to play for. I think you do a major disservice to young people if all you teach them is basketball. That is something that I’m trying to make sure that I do, just to be one of the pieces to the puzzle that help them understand what a beautiful opportunity this is and there is so much they can learn about themselves in the process.”
With all she has done and who she has demonstrated to be as a person, Alysiah Bond might leave people searching for words, but one doesn’t need words to see her importance to this Badger squad.