"Bring a lot of energy and competitiveness, just fire to the team," Tyra Buss says. "That's something I've always taken a lot of pride in."
From her early days on the Mount Carmel High School court, earning Miss Basketball Illinois honors twice, to her time in Bloomington as Indiana University's all-time leading scorer, assist-maker and steal-taker, Tyra Buss has been synonymous with hoops. However, after award-laden college career, a try at playing professionally in both America and overseas, her career had reached the turning point.
"Basketball has always been my passion and just something that I grew up loving to do every single day", Buss said. "Putting up the shoes and not playing anymore, was definitely really tough for me. That was a huge transition. Even now, I still think about it, every day, how much I miss actually lacing them up and playing the game that I love and am so passionate about."
After retiring, Buss got into broadcasting for the Big Ten Network, as well as running instructional camps. That's when Evansville women's head basketball coach Matt Ruffing came a-calling.
"I've just always wanted to mentor young women and especially to continue to help them with their game, whether that's on or off the court", said Buss. "So it kind of worked out that Evansville was needing a coach and I knew Matt from whenever they recruited me, he was an assistant here, when they recruited me in high school."
And Buss has been able to transfer her fighting spirit to as Aces program looking to change its culture..
"That's something that I've always wanted to bring, my competitiveness, just kind of the will to win", Buss aid. "Obviously, I don't have as much control now that I'm not a player, the one who's actually out on the floor doing things, bet I still want to bring that. Whether that's in pregame, in drills in practice, no matter what it is. Just doing whatever I can to help bring that energy to them and make them better."
And unlike many college graduates, this Wabash Valley native gets to start her new career in her own backyard.
"To be back here in the Tri-State area, where I grew up", said Buss. "I played a lot of Evansville schools whenever I was in high school. To be back in this area, where I had so much support growing up, definitely means a lot. Close to home and close to my family. My parents now come to everyone of our home games. They even have traveled a couple times this year if opposing teams are allowing fans. So, it's just great to have that support. I'm a big family person."
Now Tyra is still in her first year coaching, so she's not looking too far ahead, but she knows she's found her calling.
"I'm just beginning this coaching career, so obviously I'm taking it day-by day now", Buss said. "It's definitely a different season. It's weird coming into this season. It's been completely different than what any other year has been like. I'm just excited to continue to have this opportunity. Wherever the future takes me, I'm going to work really hard in this profession. Some day, maybe become a head coach. If not, I just want to continue to get better at this."