How to break into college coaching
This question has possibly infinite answers and avenues to take, some of which I don’t even know. However, I do believe there are common threads that put you into better position to break into college coaching.
First, I think you need to have a forward looking mind. This is extremely key, at least in my case. When I was young I knew I wanted to play basketball in college and then become a Division I head coach. As I was coming out of high school I received no D1 scholarship offers. All of my best chances of playing critical minutes in college came at the D2, D3, and NAIA levels. I also came from a program which wasn’t doing too hot at the time so I had to market myself to D1 coaches. Here’s where the forward looking strategy came in handy. I knew, as probably all of you know, that Division I has a much larger aura than the other levels. It has more T.V. exposure, school names are more prominent, and the NCAA Tournament is simply magical. Therefore, I knew I had to sacrifice playing time and join a D1 team as a walk-on in order to be associated with that level. I ended up walking on at Mercer University, an Atlantic Sun Conference school in Macon, GA. That decision ended up leading me to the connection to Belmont which is the school I am video coordinator at right now. If I hadn’t gone to Mercer, I don’t think there would be anyway I would have had the job I do now.
Secondly, associate yourself with programs and people who represent your personal ambitions and beliefs. Human beings have always and probably always will group individuals by association. A very vivid example of this taking place today in our world is the unfortunate fact that certain terrorist groups see Americans as bad. So, even if they have never met you individually or know anything about you in particular, they associate you with America and to them America is bad. Now that’s an example far away from the game of basketball, but I hope if helps illustrate my point. Most people reading this blog do not know much about me, T.J. Saint, so I need a representative right now and that representative is Belmont Basketball and our head coach, Rick Byrd. Coach Byrd is a humble man who doesn’t care about who gets the credit but really cares about the basketball careers and the future lives of his players. These are all things I believe strongly in which is a huge reason why I decided to associate myself with Belmont. They were also more likely to hire me once they knew that is my perspective too because of the perfect fit it produces.
Thirdly, you have to be willing to do anything at all and drop your ego. I’ve had to sweep floors, fill up water bottles, scrape tape of the court, laundry, run errands, etc. Each of these things really doesn’t directly translate to coaching in practice, strategizing for an opponent, or drawing up plays in a game. But these things are all necessary for a basketball program to run as efficiently as possible, so they need to be done. If you are willing to accept doing whatever is necessary, then you have the opportunity to be around coaches who have great minds for the game.
Finally, take advantage of opportunities that come your way. I have a sort of quasi rule for myself regarding basketball. Unless I have somewhere I have to be by a particular time I always play in every pick-up game I’m asked to play in and I will help any kid out who wants to get better at basketball. The reason I do this is because 1) You never know who you will meet on these occasions, 2) I always seem to learn something new, 3) It’s Fun! Basically, if you have a choice to do something that involves the game of basketball and something that doesn’t I would side with jumping in and seeing what happens with the basketball choice.
All in all do not let anyone tell you that you will never make it. You have the ability to create your own future every second you’re alive so go do it. Above all, believe in yourself and treat EVERYONE with respect and you will put yourself in a better position than you would be in otherwise.