Chantel Osahor: from program changing player, to University of Arkansas assistant coach.
When you think about the University of Washington women’s basketball in the years 2013-2017 a household name that comes to mind immediately is the all-time leading scorer in NCAA history, Kelsey Plum. Along that journey the University of Washington was also rounded off by one of the NCAA’s most dynamic players at the time Chantel Osahor.
Osahor graduated from the University of Washington as the all-time leading rebounder, the second player in program history to reach 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds, and finished her senior year as an AP second team All-American.
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High Post Hoops caught up with Osahor to discuss her journey from a player to coach, her faith, and her advice to any young women out their dream chasing.
Carter: I wanted to know what the process was like after college. I know you had aspirations to continue playing and you were cut by the Minnesota Lynx. Did you automatically think at that point try to strive to play elsewhere or be a coach?
Osahor:I think the perception vs. reality is different. On the outside looking in people thought I wanted to keep playing. I contemplated for months if I wanted to keep playing even before senior year ended. It was unfortunate how my knee flared up during training camp with the Lynx and I couldn’t do anything about it. I thought I had a good shot at making the team… Following the Lynx, I was supposed to head overseas and reinjured my knee… then I started really thinking about coaching.
It couldn’t have worked out any better. I called my mom told her I was thinking about possibly taking a year off and exploring coaching. My family is big on faith, we prayed and talked to Coach Neighbors about it. That Wednesday morning, I get an email from my former boss at Drake University. I called her and we talked about the GA position at Drake University. I talked to my parents some more and on that Monday, it was a done deal. It worked out great for me. My first year as a GA was rough and I missed basketball a lot. As I was missing it my agent found a 3×3 deal in Japan… I was the first American to play in that. After playing, it reassured to me that I was good off of not playing basketball. I came back for my second year as a GA and had a great time and here I am now at the University of Arkansas.
Carter: After being a GA at Drake University, what was appealing to you about The University of Arkansas (aside from Coach Neighbors being there)?
Osahor: Anyone who knows me knows I watch a lot of basketball. I watched almost every single one of their games. Being familiar with their style of play was appealing to me. Since I played under coach Neighbors, the familiarity was easy. Along with that, I heard nothing but good things about the other assistant, Pauline Love, who is awesome. The opportunity to be an assistant at 23 years old in the SEC is pretty unheard of. Having that opportunity was great. I would definitely say the opportunity was earned and not given.
Carter: Coach Neighbors also coached you in college… how special is it that you get to continue to learn but now from Coach Neighbors but now from a coaching standpoint?
Osahor: Its good. I feel like you can learn from everybody in different types of ways. It will be fun. Having him and the whole staff teach me as I continue to learn. I know I’ll make mistakes but Coach Neighbors and everyone on the staff will help me through it.
Carter: What have you realized as a coach, that you did not quite understand in your playing days?
Osahor: I definitely think being on the opposite side as a player you don’t appreciate the final piece that you see out on the court. It’s like a bus, people don’t understand how that bus got to its destination or the time that it takes. As a coach, you have a deeper appreciation for your staff.
I still don’t know how Neighbors is in the office because its the off season right now, but I’ll get a deeper understanding of that when practice starts.
Carter: Was this your first summer recruiting? What was that like?
Osahor: It was my first time recruiting. It was definitely what I was told it would be…just constantly watching basketball all day. Trying to fit in a meal or two. The future is bright for women’s basketball. We see it in the WNBA how young stars keep coming in and making an impact. Players keep getting better and better. As for Arkansas, you always want the right kid to be in an Arkansas uniform. It should be fun.
Carter: Do you have any advice for the young women out there whether they are an athlete or not on the importance of continuing to chase dreams and not letting road blocks stand in the way?
Osahor: My advice is own your journey and follow it. That’s the difficult thing that people push and push and push and it doesn’t happen and think they’re a failure. Follow your journey and let God lead you. Usually when something closes something bigger for you is coming. Enjoy the moment. People get caught up in thinking about the future and past, just enjoy that moment.
Carter: Do you have any dreams of one day coaching at your alumna mater, The University of Washington?
Osahor: I hope to. I have a plan to be a head coach in 8-12 years and I hope it’s at the University of Washington. I don’t really make goals, but if I’m learning every day and growing, it would be that role.
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