Former WNBA champion passes skills on to the next generation

Flow Performance Training and Wellness
Flow Performance Training and Wellness

The Dallas Examiner

Alicia Thompson strives to always be at the top of her game. The former professional basketball player and 2004 WNBA Champion for the Seattle Storm is using her skills on and off the court to help create the next generation of athletes, leaders and champions.

As a professional basketball player, coach, public speaker, performance specialist and personal trainer, Thompson has her hands full. Nevertheless, she loves coaching people of all ages, races and genders through her business, Flow Performance Training and Wellness, based in Dallas/Fort Worth, which she co-owns with business partner Farrah Sharpe. She is also an assistant manager at PickUp USA Fitness, a basketball-focused fitness club in Coppell.

At the training and wellness center, the mission is to create healthy relationships and learn to cultivate meaning in one’s life with happiness and well-being. They do this through classes in nutrition, basketball training and self-care.

“My youngest client is 3 years old, and I have trained both men and women’s professional athletes to students in middle and high school and people of all ages,” Thompson said. “I tell my students that we are all here to do special things in life and live fully. We all get stressed and need self-care and self-love. So that’s what we are trying to do with our workshops, is to help people become a better aspect of themselves.”

Sharpe and Thompson also train business and community leaders. They have worked with corporations such as the Cintas Dallas Management Team where they teach clients to de-stress and achieve their best performance in the workforce. Other clients include the military, with Goodfellow Air Force Base. They also worked with Texas Tech basketball and have done high schools camps in Texas.

Sharpe, a mind-body medicine specialist, works with Thompson to help clients reach optimum levels of performance.

“I help people to deeply relax, transcend and create art that can lead them to their life’s purpose,” Sharpe said. “I teach meditation, inner child work imagination, de-stressing and teach people how to go deep within and release their trauma and pain, which is the main cause of actual stress.”

The techniques used in the program helped Thompson, who was head coach and director of operations for the Women’s Minor League Basketball Association team, Dallas Lightning, win the 2017 championship in its first year.

“The technique helps the team get into accord and drops the competition against teammates,” Sharpe said. “It brings the feeling of competition that I am no longer competing with my teammates or team members, but I am competing against myself so I can become a better me.”

Sharpe said the program is effective, especially with teenagers.

“Unfortunately, bullying is still happening and we noticed that teenage girls were having self-esteem issues,” Sharpe said. “Some were experiencing sadness, anxiety and were a little depressed and had trouble coming together as a teen. We started working with them in the afternoon and noticed immediately that their mindset had turned around. They became more loving and compassionate towards each other and the bullying and gossip stopped.”

The techniques have also been used in the classroom where teachers have found it effective as well.

“Students were more quiet, less argumentative and there was less bullying,” Sharpe said.

Thompson feels connecting athleticism with mind-body techniques builds the overall person.

“We talked to parents and they said even though their child might have good skills, they often lack confidence,” Thompson said. “This is where Farrah comes in. We teach kids that it is just not about running, dribbling or scoring, but the mental part is vital also.”

Jason L. Riley met Thomas when he was looking for a coach for his daughter, who had only one week to prepare for seventh grade basketball tryouts. The young athlete informed Thomas that students would be trying out for teams A, B or C, and she would be happy to make the C team.

Thomas said she informed the young lady that she would make the A team.

“From there, Coach T has been all-in with my daughter,” he recalled. “Coach T texts to check in, motivate her, make sure she is doing her homework, and provides steady encouragement. I know she has numerous clients, but she makes my daughter [and us] feel as if she is the only one. She is encouraging and energetic.”

After just three training sessions, Riley’s daughter made the A team.

“My daughter is a better player and much more confident on the court, and this is due largely to the investment that Coach T has made in her,” the father reported. “The exciting part is that we have only just started.”

Thompson, a Texas Tech alumni, was inducted into the Southwest Conference Hall of Fame in 2017 and was the 2017 Women’s Final Four Ambassador in Dallas where she spent several days promoting the event getting youth excited about the championship game through reading, speaking engagements and workouts.

Initially, Thompson was not interested in coaching but said the position came to her naturally.

“At first, I never really wanted to coach,” she said. “I remember as a player, most of my family members and mom said I should coach. I am big on building relationships, and I love to motivate and inspire people, and you can do that through coaching. I never really put myself into that position. It was just a natural flow.”

Thompson also enjoyed a five year career as a high school basketball coach.

She knows what it is like to overcome odds in order to be your best.

The star athlete grew up in Big Lake in a single parent home. Her mother raised her and gave Thompson her first basketball at the age of 2. She recalled being able to dribble at 2 years old, and at 5, she started playing in a competitive little league or youth league. Then she started to play in middle school and high school track and basketball. She was an all-star player in middle school where the teams she played basketball on went undefeated.

“My mother became very ill with complications from lupus and diabetes when I was young and at age 12, I blew out my knee and had to sit out due to injury,” Thompson said. “It was hard because I had the knee injury, and I had to help my mom get ready and get dressed. I also had to see some violence in the community. After having knee surgery, I ran a race and got last place, where as before I was the top athlete in seventh grade.

Thompson was able to overcome the injury and become one of the top athletes at her high school. In high school, she participated in track and field and became a four-time shot put state champion and one-time discus state champion.

She was recruited by hundreds of colleges and earned a full basketball and track scholarship to Texas Tech. She became Texas Tech’s second all-time leading scorer and rebounder and was named the 1998 Big 12 Player of the Year. She also brought home a silver medal for the U.S. Junior National Olympic Team as a representative of Texas Tech.

In 1998, she was drafted into the first round of the WNBA by the New York Liberty and went on to play in the WNBA for other teams such as the Indiana Fever and Seattle Storm, where she eventually won the WNBA championship. She has also played professional basketball overseas for teams in Spain, Sicily, Naples, and Istanbul, Turkey.

Thompson said her mom is her hero and inspired her to be the best she can be.

“She always told me that basketball would be a platform for me to do great things,” Thompson said. “My mom always taught me to always believe in myself and never quit. Even though she suffered illness, she was always there for me and would travel to all my games growing up.”

Thompson lost her mother during her professional playing career. Thompson said when she coaches, she sees herself in others.

“I saw that I can reach kids in a different way, and they would listen to me since I was a professional athlete,” Thompson said. “I saw what my mom meant when she said basketball would be my platform to reach out and do great things and make a difference. I really want to help youth understand that they don’t have to be products of their environment. They can still go on and live productive lives and be successful no matter what they are going through, whether as kids or adults. It is always a choice, and that is what I love about coaching, is being able to inspire and impact our youth and adults.”

Thompson said anyone interested in learning about the program can visit: flowperformancetraining.com.

Thompson also tries to keep it realistic with youth who dream of playing in the pros.

“I tell them that only a small percentage of athletes go on to play professionally and that if they want to reach that level, they are going to have to put in the hard work and dedication,” she said.

If there is one thing Thompson could change, it is the equality of the sports. The men’s games and athletics get more attention than the women’s games. Thompson said she would like to see that improve as well.

“Ladies work just as hard as men in athletics, but there is still a big difference in the amount of attention given to each,” she said. “In the NBA, the salaries are so much higher than the WNBA, and the arenas are always fuller in the men’s games. I would like to see more support and attention given to the women’s game as well.”

The main goal of Thompson is to use coaching as a platform to give back to the community.

“There are so many kids going through things that they should not have to go through, like poverty and suicide,” Thompson said. “I want to teach them that if you have the determination and drive, you can pull yourself out of any situation.”

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