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Coaching at The Highest Level

Miami's bench, after a Duke turnover late in the second half
Miami's bench, after a Duke turnover late in the second halfMiami SID

Anyone who has any concept of what it takes to get to the highest level of college basketball coaching knows that getting to that point is a tedious, painstaking, often thankless and ruthless, struggle. There are no guarantees, and the possible jobs on a yearly basis are far outnumbered by the coaches around the country who are looking to get to the Division One level.

To take it one step further, getting a job as a coach at a Division One school, guarantees you, generally, three years of employment total, in which you are often given expectations that are borderline impossible to meet. Some people go their whole lives searching for their break into big time college basketball, spend countless hours networking and grinding (for lack of a better term), and they are never quite able to land a steady coaching job. However, with all this being said, there is no greater goal, and no better job, than coaching basketball at the Division One level.

Every so often, the minimum wage 90 hour weeks, make an aspiring Division One coach ponder the possibilities of the common work force. With the amount of effort, stress, time, and thought put into this one goal, an aspiring coach could become a millionaire ten times over in 100 different ways. And if it was about the money for most coaches, going to the common work force is exactly what they would do. If this goal is so stressful, often lonely, and ridiculously risky, than why continue to chase this dream? This answer can be summed up in one word, fulfillment.

Of course, different people have different ways to define fulfillment, and my definition may be slightly different than others. Fulfillment to me is waking up every morning with something to look forward to that is way bigger than me. Ninety-nine percent of jobs in America are occupied by people who are hoping they get sick, so they don’t have to go to a place that they hate and do the same thing that they did the day before. The daily conversations are often filled with complaints about bosses, the weather, and the sitcom that they watched the night before.

Coaching at the highest level, and the struggle to get to the highest level, forces coaches to spend the majority of their time shaping, expanding, and improving their craft, and in turn doesn’t leave much time for additional hobbies. Coach Konkol, Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach at The University of Miami states, “Coaching at this level doesn’t give me time for anything but basketball and family, which is okay with me because those are my only two hobbies”. This leads to the obvious cliché, “Find a job you love doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” This saying is truly meant for those who are lucky enough to attain Division One coaching jobs.

This accurately sums up the exact reason to spend the time working your way to the top. Although paying dues, as the majority of high level coaches have had to do, is often brutal, the sacrifices that are made over a small amount of time, allow you to have a job and a life that is consistently filled with desire and passion. All in all, for those coaches who are currently on this journey, whether you have won almost 1,000 games as a head coach like coach K, or you are a Graduate Assistant picking up your head coaches laundry, feel blessed that basketball has given you an opportunity to fulfill your life on a consistent basis.