coach

What's Worked For Me (So Far)

CREATING BASKETBALL OPPORTUNITIES

I’ve been very fortunate as a young basketball coach to have landed a number of amazing basketball opportunities. A few of these include Duke basketball camp, UCLA camp, Georgia State Basketball Camp, Snow Valley Iowa Basketball School, working for PGC/Glazier Clinics, USA Basketball Clinics, Social Media interning for Kevin Eastman (former NBA assistant coach), and a trip to the final four. I’ve also been very fortunate to have coaches like Don Showalter and Kevin Eastman to trust me to do a good job when they bring me on board.

A number of coaches have asked me the question, “How did you land that?” Or, “How did you get connected with them?” Many ask for the purpose of trying to land similar opportunities. This article is a response to those questions.

My primary aim in this article is to give coaches who want some basketball opportunities a few ideas on what may help them by describing what’s worked so far for me. I’ll also talk about the financial aspect of my journey and share a few ideas worth considering about money, because like many young coaches, I also do not have access to a money tree.

But first… The reason I put (So Far) in the title is to be clear that I am not proclaiming myself to be a deep well of pure professional wisdom. I have a career win total that equals the amount of children some coaches reading this have. Ok, I’m slightly kidding. Unless you have 12 children… then you officially have me beat. But I’m closing in fast. Ha!

Hopefully you caught the fun at the end of that paragraph. Seriously, this is my journey so far and hopefully some reading coaches will benefit and get some ideas on how they can create opportunities for their coaching career.

Clete Adelman, Mason Waters, Bill Van Gundy

Clete Adelman, Mason Waters, Bill Van Gundy

DUKE BASKETBALL CAMP

I first got involved with Duke Basketball Camp as a camper about a decade ago. And I was a phenomenal camper (which I must say is a slight distinction from being a phenomenal player). I connected with many camp coaches and even impressed the camp director so much that he remembered me… nearly 10 years later.

I emailed the camp staff in late 2014 about working camp the next summer, in 2015. I got denied.

The next year I sent another email application. I was told I was being considered. Then the deal breaker game.

A friend and I went to the University of Georgia to watch the Bulldogs take on High Point in an early season contest. As my buddy and I questionably snuck our way closer to the court, I noticed a familiar ESPN announcer. It was Duke’s Camp Director who also happens to work for ESPN.

After the game, I approached the announcer’s booth to say hello, and that I had applied this summer for camp. Security was telling me and my friend to exit the building. I persisted and said, “I know the announcer, I’m just saying hello.” They let me hang around a few more seconds.

After the ESPN team wrapped up their coverage, I quickly said hello to the camp director and mentioned I had applied again to coach at camp.

“Wow! I remember you as a camper” he replied. “I’m glad you came up and said hello because now I know that you’re not just some Joe blow off the street. We’ll get you on.”

I don’t know how many people that you want to work for also commentate for ESPN, but if he does, find what game he’s calling next, go to that school, and stay after. Ok, I’m kidding about that, but this is how I got connected at Duke camp.  

UCLA BASKETBALL CAMP

Now that I’m writing this out, I’m finally realizing how one door opens another, and that door opens another, and that door opens another, and on and on. UCLA was one of my most recent basketball opportunities and it makes sense to me to do this thing backwards.

I met Jim Harrick, former UCLA Head Coach, at a 2016 PGC/Glazier clinic in Dallas.

Quick side note: I’ve had people assume I come from a wealthy family and they just pay for me to travel all over the place and do these basketball things. The truth is that I do have very supportive and encouraging parents, but I am by no means rich. My mother does a phenomenal job supporting me financially but it’s not like I can do anything I want or go anywhere I want. My parents have been divorced for most of my life. My dad, unemployed since 2008, now lives in a camper in north Georgia and my mother is a school teacher. I’m a full-time college student. We’re not poor, but certainly not rich. I’ll get into some of my financial beliefs and how that’s played into these opportunities later.

So I meet Jim Harrick in Dallas at PGC/Glazier clinic in fall of 2016. A friend of mine, Faiz Ahmed, and I were talking in July 2016 about the benefits of volunteering at basketball clinics; you get in for free (save money!), and might get unique access to speakers and staff of the clinic. This rings true.

After that conversation I researched basketball clinics in Atlanta. I knew of PGC so I reached out to them about their Atlanta clinic. I’m from Atlanta, so I figured I could volunteer at the clinic, get free admission, and just take the 45-minute drive back and forth from my house each day. They exceeded my expectations: They paid for my hotel allowing me to stay in Atlanta during the entire clinic. That allowed me to begin a relationship (not like we’re best friends but we know each other) with an individual who I think is one of the best coaches in basketball period, Mike Neighbors of Washington and now Arkansas. He, myself, and some other coaches stayed at the same hotel and went out in the night and talked hoops for a few hours.

During the Atlanta clinic, I asked PGC/Glazier staff if they needed help at their Dallas, Texas clinic, which would be the next week… Like in 6 days. Fortunately they said yes., they needed help.

Just like the Atlanta clinic, PGC/Glazier covered my hotel and entry to the clinic so all I had to do was pay for the flight and find cheap food (While in Dallas I walked about two miles to a McDonalds  during breaks because that was by far cheaper than the hotel food and Uber costs money, walking is free).

If you don’t know about PGC/Glazier, you need to because they are really good. Their clinics have multiple sessions Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and will have multiple speakers presenting at once (all in different rooms of course).  Going into Dallas and looking over their speaker lineup, I knew had to be Jim Harrick’s room host. Not only did he win a national championship, he also coached in my home state of Georgia at the University of Georgia and I also figured he might have some influence in getting me into working UCLA’s camp, a position I applied for last summer and did not get.

Another side note: Persistence is key! The first time I applied at Duke and UCLA I was denied. And I am in no way unique here. Countless coaches have persisted when they weren’t given the jobs they wanted.

I told PGC/Glazier that my one request was to be Jim Harrick’s room host. In other words, room hosts are the speaker’s host. We get them water, papers, pens, anything they need. Being a coaches room host also allows for small talk between the sessions. Amazingly, the clinic staff allowed me to host Coach Harrick. By the way, he is a character and great clinician!

At PGC/Glazier I learned that In 1996, Jim Harrick hired the guy who is today’s UCLA camp director. That’s some leverage! Jim reached out to the camp director on my behalf and got me in!

SNOW VALLEY BASKETBALL SCHOOL

Now let’s go backwards in this story. If you noticed I mentioned a conversation I had with Faiz Ahmed, who, by the way, is going to be a phenomenal NBA coach one day. But I hope he and I are on the same college staff one day.

The conversation we had was at Snow Valley Basketball School in Iowa. How did I get that opportunity?

This story is shorter and much more simple. I went to Coaching U Live in Orlando for two summers and met Don Showalter there, the head coach for the USA junior national teams and also the camp director at Snow Valley Basketball School. I also attended PGC/Glazier Atlanta in 2015 (as a guest, not support staff) and got lunch with Coach Showalter there. By seeing me at those two clinics, I guess he noticed I was a fairly dedicated young coach and he invited me to coach at Snow Valley! And of course I said yes.

A FEW OTHER THINGS THAT HAVE HELPED ME

A BUDGET FOR SUCCESS

Kevin Eastman, one of the best givers to coaches, talked about this recently at his Elite Training Camp last week but I promise I was doing it before I also heard it from him. Beginning my first year of college, I always budget my money, and one of the budgets I have is a basketball budget: it allows me to pay for coaching DVDs, clinics, gas when I go visit a practice, etc.

Each paycheck I get (which is never that much) goes like this, and I learned this from mentors at my church: Give some, save some, live on the rest.

Give 10% to the church or some of my favorite charities. Save/invest about 60%. Live on the rest.

For me, retirement saving has not begun nor have I started saving for my future kids college. Shoot, I’m still in college! Yet, investment for me in my financial plan mostly means invest in myself, my career, and my development. That includes paying for basketball clinics, DVDs, etc.

This past summer this meant taking the money I made from a previous camp to pay for the expenses of the next. For example, I coached a showcase event early this summer. I didn’t spend that money on shoes, my car, or my girlfriend, I saved it and invested it into paying for travel expenses to the next camp.

Not only that, I also started a lawn care company (I use the word company very lightly haha) with my best friend. Almost every single dollar I’ve made from there either went straight to my savings to pay off my final year of college debt-free, or it went straight into my basketball ventures.

Financial Side Note: Older coaches reading this will know this, but some young coaches might not have thought about this. This is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned: Financial freedom allows you to do the things you want to do. Debt limits opportunities. No debt opens opportunities. One of the best decisions I’ve made was going to a very affordable in-state university. My college experience has not been the stereotypical American college experience, meaning it hasn’t been a lot of what they call “college fun”, but its been a good education and most importantly, affordable. And I’m so thankful it has been.

If you have financial excuses for why you can’t go to a clinic or a basketball event but all you do is buy ten pairs of sneakers a month or buy 4 concert tickets a month, then you are the only person holding you back. Saying “no” to luxury allows an individual to say “yes” to opportunity. And with enough opportunity, luxury just might have its way of showing up on the backside.

I haven’t seen this among many young coaches, but I have a number of friends who are complaining about not getting a certain job, or not being able to get a shot at anything when all they do is spend their money on their car or boat or girlfriend. Money is absolutely vital in professional advancement because it affords an individual to invest in themselves. Without it, people very much limit their professional opportunities because they can’t buy any products or services to develop!

EBAY

My primary financial goals throughout college have been 1) Graduate debt-free and 2) Invest in my basketball career. One huge help in that has been eBay, Amazon, and Facebook Marketplace, and flipping items from thrift stores. What I’ll do now is show you a few items that I have flipped and profited from for the purpose of investing in my basketball career. Hopefully this gets you thinking of ways to make some extra money to invest in your development.

REI Backpacks – I am as interested in camping, fishing, and outdoors activities about as much as Kim Kardashian is. Well, she at least to appears to not spend much time in the wilderness. But I have found a good item to make money off of. That is hiking packs from REI.

A friend of mine invited me to REI, an outdoor gear store, about two years ago to their scratch and dent sale; their clearance sale. I went just for fun. However, while there, I began to think that a lot of those items could definitely be flipped online. So I did my research. Long story short, I have gone to three REI Scratch and Dent sales and profited a few hundred bucks off of it.

These sales attract a large crowd, so to get a good spot in line at these sales, I typically get up at 4 something to be sure I’m the first one in the door. The packs sell really well on eBay so I go straight for them when I get in the door. I’ll grab a few of them off the rack and make sure they’re not torn up too bad. Then I’ll buy them and have them listed on eBay the same day. Some I buy for $70 and sell on eBay for $140. Sell three of those plus a few other miscellaneous items and it’s a $250+ profit in one morning. Definitely beats minimum wage!

Another popular item I’ve flipped are ab lounges. The best flip I’ve done with these was pretty awesome. I found a $3 ab lounge at a Goodwill and had it listed on Facebook yard sale sites the same day. It sold for $85. That’s $82 just by swinging by a goodwill on my way home, listing it online, and meeting the person for pickup. Once again, that surely meets minimum wage.

The last item I’ll mention was a MacBook. I’m a member of several yard sale sites on Facebook. I noticed a macbook on one of the pages going for $50 and just felt in my gut, this is a steal. Without even doing any research, I messaged the seller and bought it the next day. I listed it on eBay and a week or two later it sold for $11,550. Hahaha no I’m kidding. It sold for $150. But still, $100 profit isn’t bad.

Now why am I mentioning this? I mention these items because explaining in detail some things I’ve flipped may give coaches some better insight into how to make some side money to invest in their careers. For me, a specific description of a few different items is better that just hearing “Go flip stuff.”

THAT'S ALL FOR NOW

Sincerely, I hope this adds value to somebody. God has blessed me with these opportunities. And more importantly than these opportunities are the people I’ve met and now call friends. He has also blessed me with people in my life who have taught me the lessons mentioned above. I didn’t come up with any of this stuff or tactics, I just listened to wise people who I want to be like. Sometimes life is pretty simple, we just find a way of making it hard sometimes.

If you are a coach looking for more opportunity or have any questions about anything written here, I’d sincerely love to hear from you. I’m not a huge influencer in the basketball world, but I’d be happy to see if I could connect you with people I know. Or I’d love to talk with you about making side money because I know an extra couple hundreds of bucks could go a long way for some coaches.

Feel free to tweet me at @masonwaters_, email me at mason1waters@gmail.com or call/text at 678) 656-6957. I’d love to hear from you.

Thank you for reading!

MASON WATERS

Jay Bilas Skills Camp

Jay Bilas Skills Camp

 

 

Which Do You Love More?

Lord, don’t let my gifts take me farther than my character can sustain me.
— Mark Batterson

DREAMERS ARE EVERYWHERE.

No matter what career you are invested in or what goals you envision yourself accomplishing in the future, you are probably the type of person that is passionate about the process required to realize your dream.  You are a gifted individual with unique talents that separate you from the rest of the pack.  

But if you're anything like me, sometimes the dream God gave you takes precedent over the God who gave you the dream.  You get so wrapped up in the work and excitement of pursuing it you forget to acknowledge the reason you're able to pursue your dream in the first place.  

In his book, All In, Mark Batterson writes a brilliant excerpt about the Gift Giver.  

"If the gift ever becomes more important than the Gift Giver, then the very thing God gave you to serve His purposes is undermining His plan for your life.  God is no longer the End All and Be All.  And when God becomes the means to some other end, it's the beginning of the end spiritually because you have inverted the gospel.

God-given gifts are wonderful things and dangerous things.  One of my recurrent prayers is this: 'Lord, don't let my gifts take me farther than my character can sustain me.'  As we cultivate the gifts God has given us, we can begin to rely on those gifts instead of relying on God.  That's when our greatest strength becomes our greatest weakness."

I know in the game of basketball it can be very easy to rely on our gifts rather than on the One who gave us those gifts.  Sport is one of the easiest places for people to become prideful and believe they are accomplishing their dreams because of their talents.  I want to challenge you to love the God who gave you your dream and know the gifts allowing you to be successful were given to you by Him.  When the tests come into our life we are given the opportunity to rely on God and put an awesome testimony on display.  Keep taking action to acknowledge the Gift Giver and you will be amazed how your dreams will begin to come true as you pursue the process!

Welcome Home

QUICK LIFE UPDATE

We recently accepted a coaching position at Bethel College in Indiana.  Immediately, we felt welcomed and part of our new family.  Every single person that we have come in contact with at Bethel has been nothing but kind and helpful to us!  We are excited to get moved here from South Carolina and get into the full swing of things.  Thank you for the prayers and encouragement over the last few months as my family and I have been in transition.  I will be getting back to blogging more consistently as well once we get settled in.  God is good!

Love, Mrs. Coach (Part 2)

FIRST OF ALL, LET ME BRAG ON MY GUYS FOR A MINUTE.

They’re gentlemen. They’re kind. They’re passionate. They’re coachable. They’re crazy and goofy and immature and hilarious. They’re good guys. Our girls (ages 2 and 3) are beyond smitten. We are always greeted with hugs and high-fives. The players sit on our couch and read books to our children. They paint fingernails of toddlers and actually listen when my 2 year old tries to tell them something in her own language. The guys will chase them and flip them and carry them on their shoulders as long as my kids keep asking. We love our guys.

Our guys’ girlfriends are equally as awesome. They’re supportive and encouraging and patient with the crazy basketball schedule we all endure. I’ve loved having “watch parties” (aka ice cream parties) when our guys play on the road. We are able to eat ice cream, bond, girl-talk (did I mention the ice cream?) and share common ground because of these guys. I personally prefer home games, because I love to watch the guys play in person and not say bye to my husband, but having these girls over for away games has made road games so much more enjoyable! Girlfriends, you play such a vital role and I am so thankful for each of you!

And don’t even get me started on our players' parents/families. Kind words, notes of encouragement, random gift cards, thoughtful trinkets/toys/candy for our girls, sweet texts, and the list goes on. We have the best parents/families. Hands down.

Despite having great players, awesome girlfriends and amazing families, being a coach’s family isn’t at all glamorous. But SURPRISE, we aren’t in it for the glamour!

WHY ARE WE IN IT?  FOR THE PLAYERS.

Chances are, they probably won’t be “players” anymore after their 4 years of college ball. Do you know what they’ll be after that? Husbands, fathers, leaders, teachers, coaches, and influencers wherever they go. Don’t get me wrong. We want to win games. We really want to win games. But our ultimate goal is for our guys to win at life. To show Jesus to their family and others all around them every day. To win the ultimate prize of “Well done, my good and faithful servant."  To become coaches who have the same influence and can teach the next generation, by example, what it looks like to live by faith. To somehow balance a crazy schedule and still remember what is important in this life. People.

And somehow, the not-so-glamorous late nights, long hours, and unseen challenges are totally and completely worth it.

Julie Wingreen

Love, Mrs. Coach (Part 1)

Mental Toughness Is A Choice

In recent talk at PGC Basketball, Chad Songy discussed the idea of mental toughness.  He shared about how the way we think can dictate certain actions in our life that influence our mentality.  

FEELINGS > ACTIONS > IDENTITY

OR

IDENTITY > ACTIONS > FEELINGS

When we choose to allow our feelings (fatigue, stress, anger, entitlement, etc.) to dictate what we do with our actions, (body language, work ethic, etc) we are telling people about who we are as a person.  Our identity becomes a microcosm of our feelings, which can be very self-serving.  

On the other hand, when we choose to allow our identity to dictate our actions we become stronger.  When we know who we are as a person, player, or coach, we have the ability to act upon something that has meaning.  My body language and work ethic now become a reflection of my greater purpose.  When I fulfill my purpose it naturally builds up the way I feel by giving me confidence, energy, and contentment.  

Mentally tough people act because of their identity, not their feelings.  

Mental toughness is what you CHOOSE to put your focus on.
— Chad Songy; PGC Basketball

Taken from a talk given by PGC Basketball's, Chad Songy.

Why Do I Coach?

WHY DO I COACH?

That should be a question that every coach asks himself consistently.  There are a variety of answers that will come back, but it's important to understand your true purpose as a coach.

Do you coach to win?

Do you coach for the money?

Do you coach for the notoriety?

Do you coach for the kids?

Do you coach because you can't do anything else?

All of these reasons are realistic and are each answers that I have heard from coaches at various levels.  Most will gravitate to the safe answers such as doing it for the kids and because they love to win, but if we accurately evaluate our motives we can surprise ourselves.

Personally, I want to serve people and make a positive impact by helping them achieve the dreams that God created in their hearts.  I will work my butt off because I love to win and I need to make money, but my purpose is greater than all of that.  My purpose is to help our players see their potential and teach them how to reach their goals.  I'm called to glorify Jesus Christ and lead by example though my actions and attitude.  My desire is to develop men of high character and integrity who will graduate and become amazing husbands, fathers, employees, and CEO's.  

Now that July live period is complete and things are going to slow down for a month or so, I challenge and encourage every coach to ask themselves that question and answer honestly.  Think deeply about why you coach and make the necessary changes before the season begins.  The more clearly you can define your purpose, the more effective and successful you will become as a coach!

Thanks for reading!

Coach Wingreen

5 Highlights from PGC/Pure Sweat

Wow! It was an incredible weekend for me and my staff at the PGC/Glazier Chicago Clinic as well as the first ever Pure Sweat Complete Player Clinic at our school. I have tons of pages of notes, but what I want to do is share with you some highlights of what I learned. This is going to be really hard to do, but I will try to limit it to five. I would be more than willing to share all of my notes with you, just email me if you're interested! 

First, I want to talk about PGC in general. This was my first ever PGC clinic. I love how PGC is unique in the fact that their clinics are focused on no nonsense content that help coaches get better. Their focus of “being a light in the basketball community” is definitely happening! They are all about explaining why they do what they do. The positive energy that they bring to everything they do is contagious and effective. These next four points will be from the four coaches at the clinic and just a glimpse of what I learned from them this weekend! I hope it can make an impact on you as it did for me.

Energy elevates every human experience.
— PGC Basketball

TJ ROSENE

TJ Rosene, PGC’s Director of Coaches Development and the Head Coach of the NCCAA D1 National Champions Emmanuel College Lions, was on my main list of coaches to listen to this weekend and he never disappointed. Out of all the pages of notes and great content I have from TJ, this idea stood out to me the most. “We do it like nobody else does it.” They focus on not being average, but going a step higher in practice by playing harder than anyone else does. Coach encourages his players to “learn to practice at an uncomfortable level”. This allows them to be challenged and pushed to get better. 

We do it like nobody else does.
— TJ Rosene

TYLER COSTON

Tyler Coston, PGC’s Director of Player Development is one of the best teachers of the game that I have ever heard. His X’s and O’s content and knowledge of the game is elite. Here are several things that Tyler talked about this weekend that stood out to me. Tyler talked about excellence and the idea that “how you do anything is how you do everything”. Tyler narrowed excellence down to “sacrificing lesser desires for your greater desires”. I also loved Tyler’s idea of visualizing “yes” shots, mistake response, and boxing out before games. I believe visualization is a vital part of an elite athletes development and preparation. 

How you do anything is how you do everything.
— Tyler Coston

GRAHAM MAXWELL

Graham Maxwell, who is on PGC’s Player Development team as well as an Assistant Coach at Emmanuel College is a young coach with passion and excitement to be the best and to help others be their best. The major theme that stood out to me from Graham was the idea of loving my players and investing my time and energy into them. Graham explained how at one point this year he was discouraged and felt like giving up as a coach, but TJ Rosene helped him realize that he needed to be building relationships with the players, not just getting caught up with all the administrative side of things. Graham literally schedules out blocks of time in his busy schedule to meet with players and see how life is going, it doesn’t need to be about basketball. It can be about school, family, things they may be struggling with, etc. Graham shared in Chapel on Sunday I Corinthians 13:4, which explains what love is. What an encouragement it is as a coach to realize that we have a perfect example in Jesus Christ, who is patient, kind and all of the other aspects of love. Now God has called us as coaches to live out love in those around us. Our family, coaching staff, players, friends all need our love, but most importantly they need the love of God! Winning lives > winning games.

ALAN STEIN

Alan Stein of Pure Sweat had several sessions at PGC which were full of as I like to say “pure gold”. We had the unique opportunity to host at Schaumburg Christian, Alan’s first ever Pure Sweat Complete Player clinic. Ryan Haun, a Pure Sweat trainer in Wheaton joined with Alan to create this Complete Player Clinic! It was such an effective time for all players who were able to come. Here are highlights from Alan's challenge to the players. “To be the best you have to do things that are uncomfortable”. Alan went on to explain the difference between pain and discomfort. Pain is a sharp feeling like needles poking you, and is an alarm telling your body to stop. Discomfort is the burning you feel in your muscles when you are doing a specific workout. There is a huge difference between the two! Ryan Haun finished out the clinic with some great skill drills for the players and taught how shooting is the most important skill, and the most under rated skill in basketball is passing. You can check out Alan's video on balanced shooting which was recorded on Saturday via Facebook live! https://www.facebook.com/puresweat I highly recommend Alan’s Pure Sweat Player Clinics for any basketball program! 

To be the best you have to do things that are uncomfortable.
— Alan Stein

FINAL THOUGHT

The final highlight from the weekend was a video TJ Rosene showed of the late, great Don Meyer explaining why he did what he did. “Its about coaching kids more than coaching basketball” said Meyer, “happiness begins when selfishness ends”. Don Meyer was a great example of loving others better than himself. Even in his final months alive, he was focused on helping and encouraging coaches around him. The best coaches are ones that invest in their players and strive to make a positive impact in their lives.

Happiness begins when selfishness ends.
— Don Meyer

I hope these highlights of the weekend were helpful to you and got your mind thinking of ways that you can improve as a coach. The best are always looking to improve and develop. I so appreciate the passion and energy that Mano Watsa and the PGC team brought this weekend! If you haven’t been to a PGC coaches clinic you need to get to one soon!! I am inspired to continue to grow, to develop, and to share what I have learned with my staff and players! Again, if you would like to get my notes from the weekend email me at kylemcvey@bethelministries.org Thank you PGC staff for a great weekend and for sharing your knowledge of the game! #beAlight

Social Media: The New Age Of Recruiting

Social media has not only changed the way we communicate, but for many, it’s changed the way we do our jobs. No one is immune from its effects, not even coaches. 

As a college coach, I’m interested primarily in three groups – our players, our fans and our recruits. Our players constantly use social media (including during post-game speeches by the head coach). Our fans use social media (even during our games). And our recruits use social media (often in the middle of their school day when they should be paying attention to someone like their government teacher).

See, social media is all about storytelling. As a coach, I want my players, fans and recruits not only to know our program’s story, but also to be excited about sharing our story with others. Why wouldn’t I take advantage of this powerful tool to tell my program’s story?

Less than a year ago, our basketball program decided to start consistently employing social media to tell our story, focusing primarily on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Over the course of the season, we found success with our followers not only viewing our content but also sharing our content.

Here are just a few examples of the ways we tell our story through our social media platforms:

ROAD TRIP ANYONE?

As a small program, not a lot of our fans always travel with us. However, we still value their support and want people to feel like they’re a part of our team. Whether it’s a photo from the plane, a video on the bus, or a picture from a morning shoot around, we attempt to bring our fans with us on every road trip.

We'll be playing two games is week in Puerto Rico. #BruinsInPR🇵🇷

A photo posted by BJU Bruins Basketball (@bjubruinsmbb) on

Team shoot around at the University of Cincinnati. #ChampionsToday

A photo posted by BJU Bruins Basketball (@bjubruinsmbb) on

PUERTO RICO

During our trip to Puerto Rico in December, we also put together vlogs each day.  We recorded short clips of everything we did that day and conducted short interviews with players to recap.  You can check out each vlog from our trip below!

REMOTE CAMPUS VISITS

Long before a recruit ever steps foot on campus, he has the opportunity to get a glimpse into every aspect of our program. Facility tours, player workouts, practice, film sessions – they’re all chronicled through our team’s and coaches’ Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat accounts.

4 more days until the #BruinsInvitational matchup against Barber-Scotia College. #ChampionsToday

A photo posted by BJU Bruins Basketball (@bjubruinsmbb) on

ALWAYS COACHING & TEACHING

Social media has allowed our coaches to continue coaching and teaching even after practice has ended. In addition, we understand that coaches and high school players from around the country are reading what we post. It is important to give each follower value, whether it’s through a motivational quote, a quick hitter, or a suggestion for practice.

MORE THAN SPORTS

Our goal as a program is to use basketball as a platform for spreading the love of Christ. Really, it’s the most important part of our story. So whether it’s ministering in a church, helping in the community, or reffing a Special Olympics basketball tournament, we want those following our social media accounts to know what we value and who we really are outside of basketball.

🙏🏽 #LiveChrist

A photo posted by BJU Bruins Basketball (@bjubruinsmbb) on

FOLLOW US!

Make sure to follow our coaches & players on social media to stay connected to everything that is going on in our program.  You can also get more content from Coach Miller by clicking the link below!

Win The Campus Visit

It's a beautiful day outside and you have one of your top recruits coming to visit campus today.  You've had great talks with him and his family over the last few months and things are going great.  You were at every single tournament he played in last summer and took time out of your busy schedule during the season to make it to some of his high school games as well.  You've built a relationship with the family and really enjoy talking to them.  The recruit has even told you that your school is one of his top 3 and he's going to be making a decision after the visits.  But as he steps on campus, the first thing he notices is an overflowing trash can just outside of your office building...

Whether it's a full trash can or something else, it doesn't take much to negatively influence a recruit's visit.  Your job as the coach and coordinator for this particular visit is to ensure this never happens.  The goal of the campus visit is to win the recruit and his family and give them the confidence that your school is where they want to be.  Here are a few important aspects of the campus visit that could be the difference between signing your top priority and losing him.

FIRST IMPRESSION

There are really two parts to the first impression: The visual impression & the personal impression.  Sometimes the first one is out of your control, but you should make every effort to make this positive.  The second part is fully in your control and you better make it work. 

The visual impression: As a recruit and his family drive onto campus, they naturally begin to form an opinion of the school.  Is the grass cut?  Is the landscaping nice?  Are the buildings kept up?  These are just a few of the things they look at, but they are important.  I'm lucky enough to be at a school that does a fantastic job with their grounds.  You will never drive onto our campus and feel like it's a mess.  The landscaping is beautiful, the fountains are always flowing, and the trash cans are always empty.  Because of the grounds crew at Bob Jones University, my job as a coach has already been made easier.

The personal impression: This is where coaches typically win or lose the visit.  We want to win, so here is how we do it.  Psychologists have performed studies that say you have seven seconds to make a first impression.  When I go to meet a recruit in our Welcome Center or by their car, I always want to be the first person that they interact with.  Why? Because it's my responsibility as a coach to make them feel welcomed and I don't want to risk someone else impacting that.  Remember, I only have seven seconds to make this "first impression" the best that they have ever seen!  Do I have a positive attitude?  Is my posture conveying confidence?  Do I have a bright smile and welcoming eye contact?  Is my handshake firm?  Am I genuinely interested in them?  I know it sounds silly, but when we have a recruit coming on campus the "first impression" is where I spend most of my time preparing.  By making a great first impression we have now set the tone for a positive visit.

ARE YOU READY FOR US?

When recruits and their families come on a visit, it is oftentimes their first experience on your campus.  They have a sense of insecurity and may have a lot of questions.  You've already earned their trust and respect by making a great first impression, but now you need to build their confidence in you and your university.  One way we can do this is to have many of their questions answered before they are even asked.    

As the recruiting coordinator, I maintain constant communication with all of our departments on campus.  When we are planning a visit, I will coordinate with our Welcome Center to prepare every aspect of that visit.  As I introduce the family to our Welcome Center personnel, they are handed a packet that contains an itinerary, meal passes, and information about the university and their intended area of study.  Inside they will find meetings with admissions counselors, class schedules, tours, etc.  We always appeal to the recruits needs and make sure we accomplish everything their family wants to accomplish during their visit.  Being prepared answers several questions right away that the family may have been wanting to ask.  Again, by doing this we are building confidence in the recruit and his family that we will be ready to take care of them.  

BE A PART OF OUR FAMILY

Once we get the prerequisites of the visit completed, we want to make our recruit feel like he is a part of our family.  Every team says that they are a family, but very few actually live it out.  In everything we do, we want to be sincere and genuine.

One way that we begin to integrate them into our family is by making introductions to everyone we possibly can.  Our support staff, coaches from other sports, administration, students, etc.  No one is too small or too big to talk to our recruit and their family.  By allowing them to build relationships with people outside of basketball, they will begin to feel like a part of something bigger than themselves.  

We also involve our current players a lot in the process.  Whether its a workout, a meal or a campus tour, we want as much interaction between the recruit and our players.  We find this to be very beneficial because our players can give a first hand perspective of what it is truly like to be a part of our family.  They tell it how it is and give an honest answer to the questions being asked.  

NO PRESSURE

It's always fantastic when a recruit wants to sign on the spot after his visit.  However, we never pressure a recruit to sign before he leaves.  Our staff always sits down with the recruit and his family prior to their departure and have a very transparent conversation.  We want them to be honest with us and let us know what we can do to make us the best fit for their son.  We have the utmost confidence that we did everything we could to make this a special visit for them, so we want to let the process play out.  There is no doubt in our minds that if a recruit is meant to be here, he will be here.  

Campus visits will be different for everyone, but one thing will always be the same.  Recruits and their families want to have confidence not only in your program and your staff, but in the university as a whole.  Can you give them that confidence?  If so, you are going to have a successful future for you and your program!


Photo credit: Derek Eckenroth; Bob Jones University

The ABC's of Recruiting

Being a great recruiter is one of the most important skills that any college coach can possess.  You can be the best X's & O's guy in the world, but without the right people in your program, your success can be short lived.  It is our responsibility as coaches to accurately and effectively recruit  the student-athletes who will succeed in our program and ultimately benefit themselves and the university as a whole.  The foundation of being a great recruiter begins with these "ABC's."

A - ASSESS THE TALENT

It is very hard to win without talent, so the first step in recruiting a player needs to be an assessment of his abilities.  It is important that we gain an idea and form an opinion of the player as soon as we first lay eyes on him.  Raw athleticism and highlight worthy dunks are intriguing, but make sure that you do your due diligence and pay attention to the finer details of a player's game.  Does he see the floor well?  Can he dribble with his left hand?  Is his strength & conditioning at a place we can continue to build on?  Does he have a solid basketball IQ?  The list could go on and on, but you get the idea.  Don't be lured in by a player that can do a 360, but can't shoot, dribble, or defend.  Make sure that the attributes of his game will fit well in your program and be a solution to your needs as a team.  

B - BUILD A RELATIONSHIP

Most coaches are pretty good at the first step of recruiting and can assess talent very well, but they lack the ability to build a relationship with that player.  High school and college age student-athletes want to be mentored and challenged by you as a coach, so take advantage of the opportunity to pour into their life as much as you possibly can.  I understand that there are rules and guidelines that make this step in recruiting difficult, but that shouldn't mean you can't do it.  Be creative and diligent in building quality relationships even if you are limited in the amount of time you can contact the recruit.  Use the time you have to ask questions about their friends, family, dreams, and life after college.  Don't limit your communication to only basketball related topics.  Make sure the recruits know that you care about them for more than just their ability to play basketball.  

C - CHARACTER MATTERS

This is easily the most difficult aspect of recruiting.  It's relatively easy to find talent and you can force yourself to build a relationship with recruits, but it is extremely hard to see what kind of person they truly are.  Players want to be recruited and they will do almost anything to make you think they deserve a scholarship, but how will they respond when adversity presents itself?  It is your job as a coach to look for signs of character throughout the recruiting process.  How does he respond to a bad call?  Is his body language telling me something positive or negative?  How does he talk to his parents?  Does he seek counsel or does he have all the answers?  How does he treat the people around him?  Again, the list could go on and on.  Obviously, there is no perfect kid out there who will never make a mistake, but it is the job of the coach to decide whether or not a player has the character that will represent your program's culture the way you want it.  Don't settle for poor character just because a recruit is an amazing athlete.  Talent is never enough and a player with no character will hurt your team more than they can help it.  

If you can effectively perform these "ABC's" while recruiting players for your team, I am confident that you will be setting your program up for future success!