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#ManagerBuzz: From Junior College Manager To Head Coach

So by now most people who follow my teams or me have somewhere along the line heard about my journey from Junior College manager to eventually a head coach. There were a lot of long nights, early days, and a mix of everything in between, as it is for most people climbing the ladder in their profession. One of our mantras around the weight room that carries over is “Pain, Passion, Progress” and I believe that. I had the opportunity to work under some great teachers and mentors and learn a lot along the way. Some lessons people taught me and other lessons, tips, and tricks I was forced to learn on my own. Times were a lot different when I was coming up: no text messaging, twitter, Facebook, instagram, vine, dvd’s, YouTube, Google, and all the other stuff my children teach me about everyday. But my passion fueled me through all those long days and nights. The desire to get better every single day. Whatever job I was in, I wanted to do the absolute best I could at that spot. Even now as a head coach, I’m trying to learn as much as I can. This past year has taught me more lessons than ever in my career.

When I became a head coach for the first time at New Orleans, I told myself I would never forget the path that took me to sitting in that chair. From the first day, part of the requests in my contracts were that I would always be able to have at least one graduate assistant on staff along with a group of managers. I wanted to be able to provide an opportunity for “non-players” (aka guys like me) to have a chance to grow in the game.

That being said, I don’t just ask them to do regular menial jobs just because they are here. Yes, those jobs are important: laundry, taping the floor, filming practice, working the clock, packing for road games, rebounding, etc., but those jobs are a precursor to what they really need to be learning. I want them to grow as professionals in the field of basketball, learn all the different facets of the business, and begin to find their own niche in it.

During the season I will give them different assignments. It might be studying a head coach from a different sport, learning about a business leader, or researching a person of influence in which we all can learn something from. They then present the information to the team so they can improve their public speaking while the players gain insight from their teachings.

One of the ways to break into basketball coaching is through the film room. You start as a video coordinator and work your way up. Eric Spoelstra of the Miami Heat (2x NBA Champion) started as a film guy and eventually made his way to the right hand of Pat Riley. Our own Devin Johnson, who was a manager with me at my first head coaching stint at New Orleans, worked his way up to our Director of Player Personnel here at Virginia Tech through his expertise within the film room. It is an essential part of our business and finding the right person who understands it is not an easy task. They become an invaluable part of the staff, especially during the season itself.

With that said, this was our managers most recent assignment. I gave the managers a word to expand on. For instance “details, execution, communication, situations, enthusiasm, finish, compete, fundamentals, take up space (our version of ‘box out’),” and they gathered clips and edited them into a short video to show our players. I wanted the managers to become familiar with finding content, editing, cutting, graphics, and all the things that come with being a video coordinator. Over the span of their tenure as managers, they will be able to develop these skills and expand on them when it comes time to taking the “next step” in their careers.

Here are a few of their videos. They all came out pretty good…let me know what you think and which one you like. This will help with manager bragging rights in the office during the offseason!

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Head Coach Virginia Tech Men's Basketball