November 11, 2020
She Got Next, Episode 12: Pepper Persley talks to Lauren Cox, Indiana Fever
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Subscribe to make sure this vital work, creating a pipeline of young, diverse media professionals to write, edit and photograph the great game, continues, and grows. Paid subscriptions include some exclusive content, but the reason for subscriptions is a simple one: making sure our writers and editors creating 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage get paid to do it.
In the latest installment of She Got Next, Pepper Persley spoke with Lauren Cox of the Indiana Fever. Here’s what she had to say.
PEPPER PERSLEY: Hello, and welcome to this episode of “She Got Next” with me, Pepper Persley. This episode features my interview of Lauren Cox of the Indiana Fever. Hope you enjoy.
PERSLEY: You joined the Fever in the wubble late because you dealt with COVID-19 and also dealt with an injury that limited your time on the court. With all of this, how did you handle catching up, connecting with your team and adjusting to the WNBA?
LAUREN COX: Getting there late was definitely hard because I missed training camp. So I wasn’t really in the best shape. I missed when the team went over all the plays and everything, so I was kind of behind with that. I had to stay after practice and kind of run through the plays. Just, I’m a visual learner, so I actually have to get out there and go through the plays. And then as far as getting along with my teammates, I think the bubble made that easy because we were around each other so much. We spent a lot of time together and we were able to develop those friendships.
PERSLEY: Thank you for that perspective. The 2020 WNBA season was also about “saying her name” with the league wearing Breonna Taylor’s name on their jerseys. In addition, the Fever has the Fever 4 Change initiative. So what does it say about the WNBA that the league is focused on raising awareness on social justice?
COX: I think it says a lot about our league as a whole, especially because we were so together throughout it all. We all wanted to be on the same page, we all wanted to be doing the same thing and sending out the same message and I think we have such a huge reach to a lot of different people in the world. And I think that unity really says a lot about what our league can do.
PERSLEY: What the WNBA is doing is so awesome and so inspiring to see. Changing gears a little bit from social justice back to basketball, how are you dealing with the expectations that come with being the third pick in the WNBA Draft?
COX: Oh, that was pretty hard at first, I think that goes a little bit back to me getting there late and being so behind, I think. I don’t know what the expectations for me were for like, the coaches and everybody else, but like, I have really high expectations for myself. And when I don’t meet those expectations, I kind of get down on myself. And that was a little hard for me, especially getting there late and being so behind.
PERSLEY: I could definitely understand that. Thank you for sharing. So turning into a little bit of more of a fun question, have you had a “welcome to the WNBA” moment yet? And if so, can you talk about that moment?
COX: I don’t really know if there was a specific moment. I think one thing that I will always remember is playing against Minnesota when Sylvia Fowles wasn’t hurt yet. And she is extremely strong. She’s been in the league for a really long time. And I think I got knocked around a few times, so that was kind of my welcome to the league.
PERSLEY: Definitely Sylvia Fowles, such a powerhouse. [Cox laughs] Thank you for that. What are some of the best pieces of advice you’ve got from a Fever veteran?
COX: Let’s see. I think we have a couple good veterans. You know, Candice [Dupree] and Natalie [Achonwa] have been there. They’ve been in the league for a while. And then I think also Tamika [Catchings], I talked to her a few times and it’s just great having her within the Fever organization, because she is one of the greats. She was a great player. And one thing that she always told me was just to do whatever I can to make a difference, whether that was rebounding, scoring, playing defense, just make the most of the minutes I get and do what I can.
PERSLEY: Well, like, speaking of Tamika, I was actually in her leadership program, and I feel like I got similar advice, just to do all you can and to always try to affect the situation that you’re in. So thank you for sharing that. I definitely had that connection. Changing gears, let’s talk about your college career. Can you walk us through the emotions that you went through during the 2019 championship against Notre Dame when you got hurt, how Notre Dame came back and when your team held on to win?
COX: Yeah, that was a roller coaster of emotions for me. I think those first two and a half quarters that I got to play in, it was a great atmosphere. There were a lot of people there, it was really loud, and it was just extremely fun. And then I went down and kind of the first thing I thought was, “Oh, no, I tore my ACL, I’m going to be done, for next season, I’m gonna have to sit out, I’m gonna have to get surgery,” all that kind of went through my head. And then when they took me back to the locker room, I didn’t even realize that Notre Dame was starting to come back. And I was back there. And I told my trainer, I need to get back out there. I need to — because I was one of the leaders for that team. So I needed to show them that I was okay, and just get back out there so I could cheer for them. And when I did, it was just a dream come true, winning that championship. It came down to the last seconds, and just a whole lot of emotions. It’s kind of bittersweet for me, but I’m just glad we pulled it off.
PERSLEY: Yeah, I actually have an awesome story about that. I was actually in the arena for that Final Four. And I remember being, like, watching you play in in the Final Four that season. I was like, “Wow you’re so good!” And seeing you get down was kind of a heartbreaker, I think for a lot of the fans, so thank you for that, like, inside perspective.
PERSLEY: Anyone who has watched you really, really knows that you have such an impressive skill set offensively and defensively, Who were some of the players who influenced your style of play?
COX: I really like watching Elena Delle Donne play, just because she can do a little bit of everything. You know, she can play on the inside, she can step out and shoot the three. So I’ve always liked watching her play growing up.
PERSLEY: And looking over actually, I have an Elena Delle Donne bobblehead. I’m just like, oh, that’s so cool. [Cox laughs] Yeah, she’s definitely such a great player all-around. So I’m wondering what it will be like for you to probably go up against her if she ends up playing next season, right?
COX: That’s gonna be fun. That’s kind of something that I’ve always dreamed about, you know, playing against the best of the best. So I’m looking forward to that.
PERSLEY: Sorry, I just got a little distracted. There’s so many kids who look up to you, who do you look up to?
COX: I think — so this is kind of my cliché answer — but my parents. They have always been there for me, always encouraged me to be my best, always supported me. So I really look up to them. And then, second person is Coach Mulkey, who coached me at Baylor, she is just a competitor, she hates to lose and she knows how to get under my skin and get me to do my best, but at the same time, she really cares about you and she wants the best for you.
PERSLEY: Definitely heard so many stories of great college coaches that have influenced your playing, influenced even how you act as a human being. So it’s so great to hear another one of those stories. Speaking of Coach Mulkey, have you gotten any good advice from her that you want to share?
COX: I think the biggest thing that I will take away from my four years at Baylor, she always used to say, if coaches or whoever aren’t getting on to you, then they don’t care anymore. But when they’re coaching you and they’re, maybe they’re yelling at you, maybe you don’t like them that day, but they’re still invested in you. That means a lot because when they stop doing that, that means they don’t care anymore.
PERSLEY: What a perspective is that! Thank you for sharing that. That’s some great advice from Coach Mulkey, such a legendary coach. What advice would you give to all the young girls out there who dream of playing in the WNBA?
COX: I would tell them just to keep working hard. And it’s not just going to be, you know, the three practices a week that you may do with a club team or with a school team. You have to put in those extra hours in the gym by yourself because if it was that easy, just going three days a week, two days a week, then everyone would do it. It’s — you gotta take that extra step, that extra mile and do that extra work.
PERSLEY: Thank you for sharing that. And finally, last question, what are your plans for the WNBA offseason?
COX: Well, I am doing a little bit of rehab on my knee from that injury towards the end of the season and I am at home in Flower Mound, Texas, just enjoying some time with my family. Working out, like I said, doing some rehab. I’ll probably go up to Indy a couple times just to work out, see the trainers, that kind of thing.
PERSLEY: Definitely Well I can’t wait to see you back out on the floor. Hopefully next season. And thank you so much for being on my podcast.
COX: Yeah, of course. Thank you for having me.
PERSLEY: No problem. Bye!
PERSLEY: Big thank you to Lauren Cox and the Indiana Fever for making that interview happen. As always, you can find me on Instagram at @dishwithpepper and please subscribe to The Next to hear more awesome podcasts like this one.