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Courtesy: Jeff Huehn/UTSA Athletics

Leader by example

Courtesy: UTSA Athletics Communications
Release: 03/06/2011
Courtesy UTSA Athletics Communications
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by Arielle Andres

Amber Gregg knows what it feels like to win. She knows what it is takes to win not one, but two Southland Conference Championships in three years. Above all, she knows that she hates to lose even more than she loves to win.

This realization is the leading factor in her success. The Austin native is constantly determined to improve her skills and she thrives on this motivation.

“I don’t want to be the same player I was last year or the year before,” Gregg said. “I always want to get better for myself and for my team, so I always do something extra to make myself better like going to shoot, doing extra ball-handling drills, or watching film.”

Studying her sport has helped the guard create a substantial knowledge of the game that differentiates her from many other players.

“I don’t just play basketball, I love to study it, watch it and read about it,” Gregg said. “It’s so much more than just playing for me, I love breaking down film and reading, because it helps me better understand the game.”

Film helps Gregg get familiar with her opponents and she carries that knowledge into the game. The senior has more than 100 steals in her three and a half seasons and credits her ability to analyze film for this mark.

“During a game I anticipate what I saw on the film, but most of the time a player won’t do the exact same things, so I look more at tendencies,” Gregg said. “Most players will have a certain offense they like to run, or a certain skill they want to showcase. I usually just play off that and know their strengths, but concentrate on their weaknesses.”

Gregg recognizes her own weaknesses, as well. The business major acknowledges that she finds it difficult being a student-athlete, because you have to excel in time management. She uses her planner to manage this in her daily life, and she uses her energetic personality to manage her major weakness on the court – hating to lose more than loving to win.

“It’s a good and a bad thing,” Gregg said. “But any time we start to get down, I just have to challenge myself to be the motivation on the court.”

The senior knows when she needs to provide inspiration for her teammates and states that energy is the best motivator for her team.

“As a leader I have to be my teammates’ biggest fan and their worst critic,” Gregg said. “So I encourage them and cheer them on, but I also have to tell them what they need to work on and I help them do it.”

The point guard holds no reserve in placing trust in her teammates to score. She ranks among the Southland’s leaders in assists and assist-to-turnover ratio.

Gregg, who earned Southland Player of the Week honors in December, also is one of the league’s top scorers more than 13 points per game. She joined 11 other Roadrunners who have reached the 1,000-point mark with her 12-point showing against Southeastern Louisiana on Feb. 9 and currently ranks ninth in program history with 1,128. With four 3-pointers against Houston on Dec. 7, Gregg broke former teammate Terrie Davis’ 3-pointers record of 168 and currently has 198 connections from behind the arc.

“I told Terrie that I would break her record when I came here,” Gregg said. “She didn’t believe me, but now I can say I did.

“I couldn’t have done any of that without my teammates, so they are a part of that too,” Gregg said. “It feels good knowing that I helped create something that hasn’t been done before, because that was my reason for choosing UTSA in the first place.”

Gregg turned down offers from Kansas State, TCU, Georgia Tech and many other schools to play for the Roadrunners.

“This is the place that felt right,” Gregg said. “I didn’t want to go to a school that had an established program. I wanted to go somewhere where I could build something with my teammates that had never been done before, and I feel we have started that here.”

UTSA has established a winning program since Gregg’s arrival in 2007. The team captured the 2008 Southland Tournament Championship, and they defended that title one year later and also claimed the program’s second regular season crown.

“That feeling is amazing,” Gregg said. “The first time it was more rewarding, because I had never won anything like that before. I remember Whitney York and I talking about it thinking that it was too good to be true for our freshman year. We were thinking something bad had to happen and nothing did. It’s definitely my favorite memory here.”

“As a leader, I want everyone else on the team that doesn’t have a ring to know what it feels like to win one,” Gregg said. “I try to push them in ways that will make them want to get there and help them take the little steps to get to our big goal.”

As a vocal leader, Gregg constantly tells her teammates that to get what you have never had you have to do what you have never done. She is a firm believer in approaching practice and games with a new outlook on ways to win. Even with her teammates that were with her for the past two championships, she tells them that they can’t approach the season the same way and they need to be even better.

“My mom always told me that your attitude is everything in life,” Gregg said. “How you approach a situation determines a lot about how the situation will turn out.”

The senior admits that school and basketball are her main priorities right now, but family has always been important to her.

“My dad has coached me my whole life, and my mom is my best friend,” Gregg said. “I don’t think they will ever understand how much it means to me that they are always here to support me in doing something that I love. I don’t know where I would be without them.

Gregg feels that her teammates are like a second family to her. Her favorite memories of the season are a collection of days in the locker room that she refers to as a comedy show. The senior says that sophomore Jermini Malone is one of the funniest people she has ever known and that she has so much fun with all of her teammates. She also credits her coaches for her experience here at UTSA.

“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else or with any other coaches,” Gregg said. “They taught me the game of basketball more than I could ever imagine. They developed me as a player and a person, and they are all great coaches and mentors.”

After graduation, Gregg hopes to continue her career overseas. She loves the sport and states that it gives her an adrenaline rush each time she plays, but she can completely clear her mind and does what needs to be done to win. The senior says she could not ask for anything more than to walk away from UTSA with her basketball memories and her education.

The leader still had one more thing to say to any UTSA women’s basketball newcomer, though:

“Keep it up. Don’t let it fall. We are one of the top schools in the state and athletics has come a long way. This is a good place to be. Keep up our tradition.”

If Gregg continues to lead by example, her traditions will always be recognized by any spectator or basketball player to enter UTSA.

NOTE: This story originally appeared in the UTSA Basketball Game Program on Feb. 19 and has been updated for accuracy.

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