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Sunday, June 29, 2014

WORKING YOUR WAY UP

A great story from Coach Rick Pitino from his book "The One Day Contract."  Too many young people think they can just bounce into an assistant coaching position without paying dues and working their way up.  The best way to learn this craft is to start from the bottom and work up.

I remember a handwritten letter by a young man from New Jersey who wanted to learn our system and serve as a student manager. I was the head coach at Kentucky and returned his letter suggesting he would be better served to apply at schools in New Jersey. I informed him that UK was predominantly Kentuckians and he might feel like a duck out of water. I suggested that he look at Seton Hall or some of the other programs in the Northeast. He was not deterred and wrote back that he wanted to study our style of play. I agreed and Frank Vogel was hired as one of ten people who would aid our team on the periphery. Like most student managers, he worked diligently to do all the grunt work with very little recognition, only earning increased financial aid with more time served in the program. This young man was a true student of the game, a good high school player who wanted to learn all facets of our profession. After graduation he became a graduate assistant helping with our video and scouting operation. When I moved on to become coach of the Boston Celtics, he came along as video coordinator. After my departure he stayed on and helped my assistant Jim O’Brien when he took over as head coach of the Celtics. Of course, today Frank is the highly successful coach of the Indiana Pacers. Frank had energy and drive. His strong ambition helped him achieve a level of success that I never could have imagined when I was reading that initial letter. Through hard work, and given just a crack at an opportunity, he crossed that bridge with so many of the managers and assistant coaches I’ve had whose dream was to learn and one day run their own program.