By (Matthew Speakman)

Head coach Dana Duckworth is all about positivity. Her coaching style is usually marked by encouragement and learning from mistakes.

This doesn’t mean she doesn’t know when to turn up the heat when it matters most. When postseason hits, the intensity rises.

“We are amazing. Act like it every day, every turn, every trick, every landing and I’m harping on it,” Duckworth said. “They’ve seen a much harsher side of me these last couple of days, but by design, because it’s what we need to get to the next level.”

Duckworth’s increase in intensity comes at an important time for Alabama. As Alabama prepares for NCAA Regionals, her preparation for this meet is unlike any other. She is not shy to postseason competition. She has competed in NCAA Regionals. She has competed in NCAA Championships. She has coached at both as well. She has won an SEC Championship as a coach.

She knows how good a team needs to be to take home a title. She wants this team to know exactly what they need to do to peak at the right time.

“Right now is the time where you need to meet the needs of full capacity in the gym where the heart and soul of our success is gonna come from: the preparation and the training,” she said. “Then, you have to bring it every day. I think the ladies are really getting that message.”

Alabama is the highest ranked team competing in the regional that will take place on April 1 in Morgantown, West Virginia. Waiting for the Crimson Tide is a chance to advance to the NCAA Championships. The top two teams will advance from the meet.

Assistant coach Bryan Raschilla encouraged Duckworth to turn up the heat when it came time for regionals.

“It’s something that the girls needed and the team needed,” he said. “It’s a discipline that we need. Everybody needs it at this time of the year to be successful down the road. It has to be no nonsense. We’ve got a couple of remaining weeks and we’ve got to get the job done.”

Duckworth’s coaching shift is reminiscent of Alabama’s previous head coach, Sarah Patterson. While Duckworth uses positivity and encouragement in the gym usually, Patterson was more consistently intense as the season went on.

Senior Aja Sims, who spent her freshman year being coached by Patterson, has seen even more similarities between the two in the last week.

“Definitely, for me, it’s very similar,” she said. “When Sarah came in (the gym) it was straight business. Dana, the last couple of days, has been straight business.”

Duckworth said Sims and the rest of the team has bought into her recent style. She believes this comes from the team’s passion and want to show how good they really are.

“They want it. They know that there is something we need to do to get us to that next level,” Duckworth said.

History is on Alabama’s side when it comes to Regionals. Alabama currently has the record for NCAA regional championships with 31. Of those 31 titles, six of them have turned into overall National Championships. The Crimson Tide has appeared in 34 straight NCAA Regionals and has won back-to-back regional titles since Duckworth took over.

Joining Alabama in Morgantown is No. 7 Michigan, Southern Utah, George Washington, West Virginia and Kent State.

“Any teams that we ended up with, we’re going to compete the same way,” senior Katie Bailey said. “We’re going to just try to continue what we’ve been doing inside the gym.”

As Alabama prepares to try and capture a 32nd regional title, Duckworth believes Alabama’s chemistry and preparation will serve them well.

“This group, because they know they’re talented, can take this fire inside of them to the next level,” Duckworth said.

…read more

Source:: The Crimson White Sports