We often ask our players/athletes to improve. Some coaches demand it on a daily basis. I tell my guys ‘do something every day to get better’. My thought tonight is, ‘am I as a coach working to improve my team and myself as much as I can’?
Guys like Jim Boeheim, Roy Williams, Tom Izzo, Jim Calhoun, etc. have been around the game a long time; I ask, can they possibly improve on their chosen craft? Yes, I think they can (and I’m sure they feel that way too). I’m sure they are always finding ways to improve their team and their current situation.
The coaching profession, (the field we have chosen) is a wonderful vocation. Every morning I wake up I thank the Basketball Gods (and my wife) that I am coaching. I am at the Junior College level and you know what, I LOVE it. It dawned on my this afternoon as I was sitting with some of my players, we were taking them through some academic advising. I sat there and saw the looks on their faces. Some were excited, some were scared, some didn’t know what to expect. I was in a position to help. Actually, I am in a position to help shape and mold 12 young men who need direction.
Like many, I dream of coaching at the D-1 level. (I actually spent one season as an assistant coach at Saint Peter’s College in Jersey City, NJ during the 2005 season and came one win away from playing in the Big Dance). In the past I have applied for assistant coaching positions and have been turned down like many other coaches have been. I have made calls and e-mailed head coaches trying to get a shot at an interview; I don’t always get through, nor do I hear back from them. I have worked hard the past few years trying to network, and do everything I thought I could to give myself a chance. I have written letters to many of coaches looking for a chance. Like a guy once told me when he was being turned down job after job, “I can’t even get a sniff.”
I will say this…advancing and being successful in coaching is hard. It’s not easy, because if it was easy, everyone would be doing well at it.
My own coaching journey has been a long and unpredictable one; like other coaches, there have been obstacles, rocky roads and times where I wanted to just give up. There’s been broken promises, friendships not as strong/sincere as I thought and of course doubt. There also have been situations I was faced with where I could’ve done things a bit different.
Through this blog and being a head coach, I hear from a lot of coaches who want to climb that unsteady ladder of coaching. They want to move up. Make more money, be at a popular place, work for a future Hall of Famer. I was there at one time too; I always thought of getting someone to call for me and try to get me in on an open job (and believe me, I have a very powerful Ace in the hole). Even his call didn’t get me a job I applied for a year ago. I did everything I possibly could to get this gig!
Too many coaches are always looking ahead to their next job (again, in the past I have fallen victim to this crippling disease). But not any longer. I have made a promise to myself to do everything I can to make my current team, Jackson Community College Jets Men’s basketball the best team we can be in 09-10.
Instead of wasting time sending my resume to a school because they have an opening or calling a friend and asking, ‘do you know what they are doing’? I am going to look for ways every waking minute of my life to improve my team and most of all improve myself as a coach.
Instead of writing countless letters and e-mails to people who are in a position to hire me to work an exposure camp so I can help train some of the best players in the country, I am going to work with lesser known and not as talented players at Carlton Valentine’s camp in Lansing, Michigan.
No more time wasted on an open coaching position at a D-1 school or even an NBA club. I’m not saying you shouldn’t look, but I know guys that are looking 24-7, and to me, that’s just not fair, to you, your family and your current team/program. A college basketball secretary once told me, “where you are is where it’s at…”
To conclude, I’m not even close to being in the same league as a Rick Pitino or a John Calipari and I don’t have their wisdom or experience, but I’m in my mid-40′s and have been involved in the great game of basketball for a very long time. From my experience at the HS, A.A.U. and college levels, I have had the opportunity to spend time with coaches who have valuable and respectable insight; I have consumed hundreds of outstanding books on coaching; I’ve listened to coaches at clinics and have read magazine, newspaper and internet articles; and oh yes, knowing first hand about what guys do and don’t do to be successful, that is an area I have studied and researched non-stop.
Over the next few days I will give you my thoughts on a few topics in the coaching world…
(Next-Part Two The Work Ethic)