It is not uncommon to associate yourself with the pedestal of the coach’s circle, or think you’re at the bottom of the totem pole – hell, the tagline to my own blog is “A Coach’s Climb” referring to a figurative ladder that all aspiring coaches are expected to climb in the process to advance in the coaching realm. College basketball, athletics in general revolve around the theory of putting in your time and/or meeting this arbitrary amount of experience to qualify for a position, on or off the court. However, the idea of climbing the coaching ladder can not intimidate you; the ladder should signify where you stand today and how much room there is for growth to improve. Similar to the $5 bill, you can’t simply expect to acquire a head coaching position without having proved competent. Climbing this proverbial ladder to success is based on opportunities. The decisions that you make when those opportunities are presented separate the stagnant from the climbers.
I was presented with an assignment to interview a coach regarding some of the issues discussed throughout the semester. The issues varied from personal opinions on coaching philosophies to the amount of preparation made prior to practices. Now, normally I would have found a way to take this assignment and seek convenience to fulfill a grade, but I saw this as an opportunity. Long story short, I reached out to 8 different head coaches at the Division I level with whom I have a great deal of respect for their coaching style and leadership approach. I identified to the 8 different coaches who I was, the reason as to why I specifically reached out to them, and the objective I hoped to gain from this experience. Admittedly, I expected zero response, not because I thought that I would simply be ignored, but these men are understandably busy with hectic schedules and to be honest there were 23 prescribed questions my professor expected to have answered (I at least cut it down to 15). The very next day I received word from the Head Coach at Butler University, Brad Stevens, and the Head Coach from Temple University, Fran Dunphy. The response e-mails both read, “Call me and we can talk.” What may have been just 15 minutes of their day was an experience that I will never forget. Keep in mind that at one point even the most successful coaches started without $5.