Along with the flood of emotions that come with playing in front of friends and fans for the last time, Utes senior wing Tanaeya “Tay” BoClair will walk away feeling that she and her classmates leave the program better off than they found it.
The same might also be said about the program’s impact on BoClair. One of four seniors for the Utah women’s basketball team, she will play the final home game of her career at 2 p.m. Sunday against Washington at the Huntsman Center.
BoClair’s four-year tenure has been characterized by a willingness to adapt, a hype-focus on the collective good of the team and learning to meet challenges.
Asked what will stand out from her four years with the Utes, the 6-foot tall BoClair replied, “How much I’ve grown. How I’ve changed as a player. How my role has changed. How the team has changed. How the coaching staff has changed. All those things have played a role in my career here.”
A major change landed on BoClair’s doorstep one year into her career; a coaching change brought Lynne Roberts from Pacific and an emphasis on playing with tempo, a change BoClair describes as a “swift kick in the butt for all of us.”
Roberts witnessed BoClair transform herself to prepare for the change. BoClair stayed in Salt Lake City in the summer and got noticeably leaner, fitter and stronger. She also improved her skills so that she’d no longer rely on getting by on athleticism.
Along the way, BoClair grew into a leadership role. As a junior she’d averaged 10.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.7 assists per game. She paid more attention to her reactions and tried to be more steady no matter what the situation.
“I’ve grown as a person, as a human being — at least I’d like to think so,” BoClair laughed. “I think I’ve gained more basketball knowledge. I think I’ve learned how to lead my team more effectively. I think I’ve become more of a vocal leader. I hope that my actions speak louder than my words.”
This season, BoClair had another chance to prove her dedication through her actions. Two games into the season, Roberts brought BoClair in for a meeting and asked her — having started each of the 95 college games she’d played — to accept coming off the bench.
“I just said, ‘Look for who we’ve got, I think we would be best bringing you off the bench,’” Roberts said. “No hesitation she said, ‘OK. Great. Whatever the team needs.’ That could have gone a lot differently. A lot of times it does go differently, but that just speaks to her maturity and wanting the program to get better.”
The new “mission-focused” BoClair’s approach became predicated on the team’s need. Need a change in tempo? I can do it. Something not flowing right on one end of the court? I can fix it. Not getting stops on defense? I can help with that.
“I really just wanted what was best for the team,” BoClair said. “If that’s what the coaches thought was going to benefit us, getting wins is what it’s all about. What do we need to do as a team, as a coaching staff to win games. If that’s what the coaches thought was right, I was 100-percent on board.”
This season, BoClair has taken fewer shots, posted her lowest scoring average of her career (6.4 points per game) and played fewer minutes (20.4 per game). Statistic won’t dictate her memories of her Utah career, and they certainly can’t adequately express in her mind how she’s progressed in four years.
“It really has been just an awesome experience,” BoClair said. “There’s only like three of us left from when I first came here — me, Wendy [Anae] and [Emily] Potter.Seeing our growth as people and just seeing where this program has gone in the past four years is really cool.”
No. 12 Emily Potter, 6-6, forward, Winnipeg, Manitoba
No. 21 Wendy Anae, 6-3, forward, San Diego
No. 24 Tilar Clark, 5-10, wing, Idaho Falls, Idaho (Salt Lake CC)
No. 32 Tanaeya BoClair, 6-0, wing, San Antonio, Texas.