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3/20/2014 10:13:06 PM - Damien

I apologize in advance for the long winded question. I really appreciated your advice regarding my PUTS bball player, and I have been able to learn something valuable from every one of your coaching articles here on EFS.

I have been running the strength program for basketball at Western Washington University this year on a volunteer basis. I played basketball for WWU, and was approached by my coach about running the program this year as I finished out my degree this year (I hadn't redshirted and wasn't able to finish in 4years). Barring any unexpected setbacks, I've been offered a paid graduate position starting next year and would work with men's basketball and men's and women's track & field. My question is would doing my graduate work at a DII university that doesn't have a football team hurt or limit my career opportunities down the road? I am going to have to stay in the area through at least March 2015 anyway for financial and personal reasons, so do you think it would it be worth more to just work for 1-1 1/2 years then find a D1 graduate program? Or attend graduate school at WWU until then and try and transfer to another program at that point?

My biggest issue with the situation would be that I would not have a strength coach to learn from during my graduate studies, as we have no paid strength coaches at WWU and I am already in a position that the other sport coaches come to me with questions about training theory. The flip side of that is I would be working with one of the top DII basketball programs in the country as well as having the freedom to build a program from the ground up during my time here, which would be an experience that I would greatly enjoy and I'm sure could learn much from.

Any of your thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for your time,

Damien Fisher


Thank you for the kind words. I definitely appreciate it. Congrats on the offer and here is my advice. I don't want this to sound condescending so imagine you and I were at the bar discussing this like brothers.

So you have an offer to coach both basketballs and both track teams while getting your Master's degree paid for and you are worried that this won't help your career?

Here are the questions you have to ask yourself:

1. What are the other GA positions or paid strength coach positions you are offered at this particular time?

If the answer is none, then what are we really talking about. You were offered a job at your Alma-mater that a shit-ton of other coaches would kill to have.

2. Do you feel if you completed your masters degree at WWU that you would not be a candidate or wouldn't be willing to accept a GA position at a DI school?

That's kinda crazy, Damien. Do you knwo how hard it is to find a DI GA S&C position? What happens if there are none available? You would pass on a free masters degree and at least 1.5 years coaching experience for the chance at a GA position that may not ever come to fruition?

Worst case scenario, you don;t find a DI GA, but you still have a Master and experience.

Other worse case, you get offered a GA and you get another masters degree. Whats the difference? They were both paid for. And, you would have 3-4 years coaching experience.

As far as gaining some knowledge and having some coaches to learn from; that is all on you. Not working for an experienced coach doesn't mean you can't gain experience. I do know what it;s like to be by yourself and not have anyone to bounce ideas off of. Here are some things you should committ to doing.

1. Go to every conference you can find in your area and try to attend 1 national conference. Plan on learning and networking like a madman.

2. Take some regional professional development trips. Contact every DI S&C coach and drive to every college in Washington state to observe and talk shop. Most coaches will welcome you with open arms and will help you in any way they can.

3. E-mail coaches and ask if you can call them on the phone to talk or to skype. You can gain a ton of knowledge this way and it will save you some $.

4. See about paying to bring a coach in to observe your workouts. I used to bring John Patrick, Tom Palumbo, Willie Danzer and a bunch of other outstanding local coaches to observe our workouts. Tough love helped my athletes more than anything.

I hope this all helped, Damien. Bottom line is not to pass up opportunities. Like one of the biggest influences on my career, Shawn Griswold said to me, those opportunities pass you up.

Let me know if you need anything whatsoever.

Go Vikings!,
Mark Watts

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