Blue Devils embrace yoga, team bonding exercises

Updated: October 19, 2005, 8:20 PM ET

(Editor's note: Duke senior Mistie Williams will share a diary with ESPN.com throughout the season.)

Oct. 18, 2005

Greetings Everyone!

Mistie Williams
Jon Gardiner/Duke University/Icon SMIMistie Williams, Duke's workhorse rebounder, says the Blue Devils have "all the pieces" to make a deep postseason run.

Many things have happened since the last time I have shared my thoughts with you all. The remainder of preseason was very interesting in my mind because the coaches discovered a way to vary our workouts. Instead of the usual individual practices, weights and sprint and agility workouts, the coaches found a more alluring approach to helping the team.

Once a week, the Duke women's basketball team had the opportunity to participate in a yoga workout. It definitely did not cross my mind that our coaches would have us do this, but it was quite the experience. Though I have had a couple of my own experiences with yoga in the past, these were quite different.

The first time we had yoga class, everyone on the team could not help but laugh at all the poses -- downward dog, up dog, warrior, child's pose and the many I cannot even remember -- our instructor was showing us. She insisted that we would all be able to do them by our last class. Although many of us could not do these poses properly or hold them for very long, one person out of the bunch stood out, and not in a good way.

Our All-America, Miss Monique Currie, was by far the worst student. You could find her in the back row in a daze attempting to do most of the poses, with one arm holding her up while the other was playing in her dreadlocks. The team would hold the poses for 20 seconds, Monique 10 seconds. We were all glad she has other talents! But you know I love you, Mo!

The coaches also had the team do more team bonding/building activities. The one that stuck out in my mind was the birthday communication activity. Everyone on the team was blind folded and spread throughout the infamous Cameron Indoor Stadium gym. The objective was to get all the members of the team in a line according to their birthday by month and date. This might seem like it was pretty easy, but there was a catch. No member of the team was allowed to use verbal communication during this process.

It was frustrating for a moment, but some people stepped into leader positions to make this activity a success. One person used hand clapping and another used other's hands to write their birthday on it. Well, the activity took a long time to complete, but we were successful.

After five weeks of preseason, our team finally had a break: fall break, which is one of the two breaks that we get during the eight months of basketball season. I had the pleasure of enjoying the company of my sisters at the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. State Conference. It was in Greensboro, N.C., at the Four Seasons Hotel. It was a great couple of days and I learned a lot.

While I was there, I was able to sit in on a Business Etiquette class that I found very helpful. I plan on starting my own company soon and it helped me with the dos and don'ts of the business world.

I did manage to get a full day of peace and quiet at home with my husband and father. It was great to have a family dinner at my place. My dad does not get to visit often, so it was great to see him.

After fall break, it was time to start practice. Ladies and gentlemen, it is that time again. It is only 15 days until our first exhibition and I cannot wait. Our team has definitely been putting in work to impress all you Blue Devil fans. Practice has been tough, and everyone has been challenging each other in order to be successful. Now, I know we are ranked No. 1 in many polls, but as Coach G says, "We haven't done anything yet." So we have to work extremely hard to prove people right.

Well, it is time for me to get ready for team dinner tomorrow night. I'm having the team over for dinner and I have to start working on it the night before because our team no longer comprises eight players. I have to feed 13 players after practice, but that is a small cost for a great team bonding experience. In addition to dinner, we will all be watching our favorite Wednesday night show, America's Next Top Model.

So until next time,

Mistie