Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Defying the Odds

I was flipping through the channels last night and came across a great story on ABC News (click for YouTube link) about a very small person with a very large Heart. Tiffara Steward is 2009 V Foundation Comeback Award Finalists. When looking at Steward you might think it is strictly based on her 4’6” stature but it goes much deeper than that. Here are the reasons why Steward is such an inspirational story and great success:

Tiffara Steward stands at 4'6" and is thought to be the shortest collegiate basketball player ever. However, it is not her short stature that is Tiffara's greatest obstacle. She was born three months premature, weighed only two pounds, and underwent three surgeries by the time she was three years old. Tiffara still battles multiple permanent disabilities today; she is blind in her right eye, as she was born without a cornea, and has over 50% hearing loss in both of her ears. She has a leg discrepancy, and also battles severe scoliosis; her spine, to date, is still not completely fused. This was unknown to most of Tiffara’s teammates, coaches and administration until this year. She never uses her disability as an excuse in any aspect of her life; instead, she uses sheer courage and determination in the face of true adversity.

Many times as we go through our everyday lives we like to make excuses for ourselves and not give 100% effort because of minor stressors. Here is an amazing young lady that never looked at the obstacles she faced in her life as deterrent to do great things. The Next time you are having a hard day and want to feel bad for yourself think about others and how much worse you could have it. Try to go through every day with the attitude to brighten up someone else’s day!

A Million Ways to Skin a Cat

Looking through the new April issue of ESPN the Magazine and came across an article that discusses five successful college basketball assistants and what makes them special. The article speaks about Cameron Dollar (U. of Washington), Bernie Fine (Syracuse U.), Andy Enfield (Florida State U.), Vince Taylor (university of Minnesota) , and Jeff Battle (Wake Forest) . The one thing that came to mind when reading the article is that all five assistants have different ways that they make themselves so valuable to their programs but all of them are different. A coach that I have a great deal of respect for and had the pleasure of working under would always say to me when speaking on the game of basketball, “There are a million ways to skin a cat and there is no right or wrong way.” In reading this article you will see that these coaches have found numerous different ways to benefit their teams with the one common denominator, of giving their team’s the best chance of winning! Here are some of the teaching points that stood out in my mind when reading this article:

"He's a great motivator," says Washington alum and current Blazers star Brandon Roy. "He makes you believe you can achieve everything you really never believed you could do." (Cameron Dollar)

"Rony thanked me. Knocking him around prepared him for the physical NBA."
(Bernie Fine)

"Only fingertips and base—not the palm—touch the ball, and the index and middle fingers should be directly in its center. Where they point determines the ball's spin." (Andy Enfield)

"How do you get a California guy to come to Kentucky? Tell him Rick Pitino wants him. Players know the successful coaches. Crum, Pitino, Smith—those names get your foot in a lot of doors." (Vince Taylor)

"We pushed Josh to dedicate himself. I told him, 'You want to be a pro? Be a 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. guy, not a 3-to-6er.' We worked him hard. " (Jeff Battle)

Using Your Resources

In preparation for the South Region’s number one seed and Big East Powerhouse UConn Huskies, Head Coach Tom Izzo will seek the advice of other Big Ten coaches. The Big Ten Conference is 0-3 this year against the Huskies with Wisconsin, Michigan, and Purdue all falling short in their attempts to defeat the Huskies. This is what Coach Izzo had to say in acquiring information from fellow Bit Ten Coaches in an article in the Detroit Free Press:

"So, hopefully, I'll be able to get a little help from our Big Ten counterparts that have played them. And I think I will. I'll do that after I get at least a little feel for them myself, so I know what they're talking about when I talk to them."

When looking at the amazing accomplishments that Coach Izzo has achieved in his career it is nice to see that he is humble enough to ask for help. Many times coaches at the high level are too proud to ask other coaches for help. I truly think this is ridiculous and a gigantic mistake because we are all students of the game no matter what point you are at in your career, there is always something you can learn. It is also very important to remember that all coaches have a different perspective on things, and what they see might be a big help to your team. Is vital that through the course of your coaching career to always stay humble and never be too proud to ask for help, use all your resources!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Hard Times

Came across an article in USA Today that talks about major college athletic programs taking great financial hits due to the struggling economy. As I read the article I started to realize that no program no matter what division (I-III) or financial backing was safe from the economic down-turn. Mike Cleary, executive director of the 6,500-member National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics had this to say on the topic,
"I don't care how big and how wealthy they are, this is going to impact everybody."

Looking at the economic situation I realize that this might be a serious problem that affects people associated with athletics for the next few years. I can tell you that this year especially more then other years there are not many jobs available at the collegiate level. No one within an athletic department is safe from these cuts and these dwindling funds and we must make the best of the situation.

Many major sports programs are seriously considering cutting lesser sports and only retaining the more revenue producing sports. I think as coaches that we have to realize that we are here first for the students. The last thing that will be cut is a whole athletic team. If it wasn’t for the students we would be out of jobs completely.

A problem with many young coaches is they look for “instant gratification”. At an economic time like this instant gratification is very rare. We must weather the storm and support our athletic department and do what is best for the student-athlete. We will pull through these hard times and we will be stronger coaches because of the experience.

Many times when I see other young coaches trying to make it to the “Big Time” they are not willing to put the time or effort in. These individuals are not willing to do the small things that will lead to the big things. At this time many young coaches because of the economy might have to take a giant step back in their career and take a pay cut or a lesser job. If you are one that believes in yourself you will stay the course and become a better coach in the long-run because of these early struggles. I strongly believe that one of the most special things in life is accomplishing a goal that was extremely hard to obtain. If you are a true coach and are doing it for all the right reason this small bump in the road will not keep you away from a great profession.

Program Builder

I feel that all young coaches should try their best to better themselves in as many ways as possible. There are many way to accomplish this through clinics, chalk talks, camps, furthering their education, etc. As I look at jobs that are beginning to open in the collegiate coaching ranks many employers are looking for more qualified applicants with higher education. In your coaching career you do not want your education to hold you back from a great job opportunity.

At the current time I am pursuing my Master’s degree from Ball State University (Muncie, IN) and I was a very proud member of the student body as the Lady Cardinals defeated the powerhouse Lady Volunteers of Tennessee in the 12 v. 5 match-up in the NCAA tournament. The thing that really stood out was that this great win for the Ball State Lady Cardinals was accomplished under first year Head Coach Kelly Packard. Packard has also received The Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) 2009 Maggie Dixon Division I Rookie Coach of the Year award. This award goes to a rookie coach that has guided their team to a successful first year.

I found a great article on The Ball State Daily News Online that speaks about the great accomplishment of the Lady Cardinals. The Volunteers’ being bigger at all five positions Ball State found a way to win a huge program builder. In the article Coach Packard talks about the team coming together in the off-season:

"Pride," Packard said. "Pride in these young women. I just think the humbleness of watching them get together in May and to grow and to build something so special. That's the fun for me, you know the fact that we're pretty darn skilled and have fun together is awesome. I would walk away with the relationships in a heartbeat."

Coach Packard talks about “pride” and “Humbleness” in the article. Many times it feels like many student-athletes don’t take enough pride in the program and sell-out to the program’s philosophy. I also strongly believe that many people associate with sports have not learned the great lesson of humility. These are two great qualities that separate the good from the great. Congratulations to Coach Packard and her Lady Cardinals.

The Beginning

I would like to first welcome you all to my blog, “The Never Ending Road to Success.” I have put this blog together to hopefully help other young coaches as they venture into the very challenging field of coaching. I realize that many people look at the career of coaching and frown upon it because the lack of job security, pressures, and unknowingness from year-to-year. I am here to tell you that all of these qualities are what makes it such a special occupation. It is a career that I truly feel the number of rewards always out-number the risks. I am a strong believer that if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life. I can truly say that I have not worked a day since I started pacing the sidelines as a basketball coach.

Since you are not on my blog to hear about me I will try to make this as quick and painless as possible. I got into coaching because there have been many people that have come into my life that have had great influence on me and I feel coaching is a way to give back to others. The many lives that you are able to touch in coaching will lead you in the direction of great fulfillment in your life goals.

Through my blog page I hope to share great articles that will help in the coaching process. I want this to be a page that you look at first thing in the morning that will help you get through your stressful day. I got the inspiration to put this page together once I saw Eric Musselman’s blog page. Coach Musselman’s blog page was an amazing teaching tool for our athletes and coaches and I hope my blog can be half as good as his. I also consider myself extremely lucky because I have the opportunity to work under one of the brightest young basketball minds, Coach David Ivey Assistant Men's Basketball coach at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Coach Ivey's love for the game and great knowledge of the "Princeton Style Offense" has given me a whole new perspective on the game. He also has a great blog page which is the official blog of the UAH Charger’s. I wanted to thank both of them for the time and effort they have put into helping other coaches and there devotion to the game of basketball. Enjoy the blog and remember as coaches to always dream big and dream often because you never know what will happen in this game called LIFE!!