In life we get mixed messages about dreams. As a kid we are told we can be whatever we want to be when we grow up -- and then as we start growing -- we get told a lot of reasons why we can’t be what we wanted to be when we grow up. Those who impart these words of advice to chase more practical plans are usually very well intentioned. Perhaps they themselves had someone steer them off their very own dream so they feel it is best to “Save you” from the heartache of failing. But dreams are such delicate things.
I had one of these childhood dreams. I wanted to coach basketball. I had fallen in love with the game as a third grader and never looked back. There really was nothing in the world greater than the game of basketball.
Signing up for classes for my first semester in college I saw an Introduction to Coaching course, that I was promptly denied entry into because it was only for students in that program and you couldn’t take it until junior year. As a 19 year old college student, I was accepted into the Coaching/Administration undergrad program and I was finally going to be able to take that coaching course.
In the Spring semester of my sophomore year I had a meeting with the head of the program to discuss what I wanted to get out of the program. This individual was a Hall of Fame soccer coach who had won over 400 games in his tenure, one of only four coaches to amass that total. I left that meeting having received one message from him,: Having not played college basketball, I’d never coach at that level. Immediately I gave up on the dream.
I ended up changing schools, and going into Sports Management. I stayed involved in coaching at the youth level all the way through school. Then upon getting a job back in my hometown I was able to start coaching at the high school level. It was then that I realized my dream never died; it still burned deep inside. But I could still hear that voice in my head that it would never happen.
With that in mind, I stayed on course with what I was doing. Continued to work full time in my position at the local community college and coached the high school team.
One day as I was teaching one of my classes, we were discussing dreams and the importance of writing them down and making a plan. I started the lesson with a motivational video that had a mix of speakers including Eric Thomas, Les Brown and Tony Robbins. During the video there was a line that stood out, “if someone else in similar or worse circumstances has accomplished it, then so can you.”
It was in that class that I announced to the group I would become a college basketball coach.
You see several Division 1 College coaches have never played college basketball; Tom Crean, Marvin Menzies, Steve Hawkins, Scott Drew, Frank Martin, Bruce Weber, Bob Marlin, Cliff Ellis, Mick Cronin, Rick Majerus, Mark Few, Buzz Williams, Will Wade, Frank Haith, Greg Gard, Chris Beard, and Matt McCall to name a few. Why not me?
So here I am now, one year after reconnecting to my dream to coach as a career, and I’ve officially left my job. I am taking a leap of faith that I can -- and will -- make this happen no matter what.
As I take this leap, I think back to that meeting with the advisor and realize that what I took from that meeting wasn’t exactly what he was saying. I can hear him now, telling me it wouldn’t be easy, that I would have to get involved in as many ways as possible, be it officiating, as a manager, a GA, or with the high school team. He wasn’t actually telling me it couldn’t happen, but that’s what I heard on that day.
The lesson I hope you take from this is don’t give up on your dreams. Know that there will be perceived detractors along the way but don’t let them deter you from chasing it. And if you listen closely you might realize they aren’t necessarily trying to change your path they are just giving you a difficult road map that it’s going to take to get there.
Lastly if you truly want something, know that it will not come easy and there will be sacrifices and tribulations along the way. Keep fighting.
State championship winning basketball coach, Chris Woodside, shares his journey to becoming a college level coach as well as life lessons learned on + off the court.