On June 11th 2017, I began typing this entry at 11:55pm. For quite some time I had the idea to start a website for coaches. A website where they could tell their own stories. I began to consider the idea about a year ago when a group of coaches gathered in Atlanta for a coaches symposium called Conclave. Conclave was an idea that a good friend, Clay Dade, and I decided to put together after engaging in multiple conversations about the coaching profession. Clay has been active in the basketball world for as long as I’ve known him and has always been a very thoughtful and thought provoking brother. He’s also always been someone with an entrepreneurial spirit that I have viewed as an innovator when it comes to marketing, particularly as it relates basketball exposure events. So, over a period of months Clay and I had multiple discussions regarding the state our business and what role we could potentially play in supporting, educating and connecting young coaches. Our initial meeting in Atlanta took place on the campus of Georgia Tech.
Clay did a great job constructing an agenda and attracting a great collection of speakers and a talented of group of coaches to attend. For two and half days the energy was tremendous and I believe everyone walked away looking forward to what was next. We continued to have grand ideas about where we could take Conclave and there’s no question the intent on everyone’s part was genuine. The problem was that I’m not sure we knew exactly where to go with the concept once we all left that session in Atlanta. All the coaches in attendance were eager to be a part of building on that initial energy we created and, quite honestly, I feel bad that I really couldn’t deliver on the promise I was partly responsible for creating. But the fact is, I really did want to make a difference and I believe those in attendance felt that passion coming from myself and many others in attendance.
In the weeks and months following Conclave I’d receive calls, texts or emails from many of the coaches who were there and even some who didn’t attend but heard great things about it that wanted to know what was next and how they could get involved. Unfortunately, I really didn’t have much to offer in terms of a concrete action plan beyond whatever inspiration I may have conveyed in Atlanta.
One of the speakers at the event was a dynamic speaker by the name of Nicole Watson. Nicole has worked for HBO, Turner Broadcasting, BET and ESPN along with other media outlets and is an award winning producer and reporter. She is an extremely talented person who was truly engaged in what we were trying to do and, quite frankly, she was way ahead of us with ideas about how to move things forward. She has great experience and a tremendous amount of energy. One of the main ideas she focused on was the creation of a website. I’m not sure if we ever formulated a clear vision of what kind of content the website would carry but the general idea was to have a place that would serve as a resource for coaches. I personally saw it as a way to create a database to advocate for coaches and promote the leadership within our profession.
For whatever my part may have been with Conclave with regard to creating something significant to this point, I have fallen short and to that end I feel badly. The idea of creating some sort of web presence for coaches has remained on my mind but since I am not tech savvy and I am not very familiar with all that goes into starting a website nor how much work is involved in maintaining one, It all seemed pretty daunting to me. Yet the thought persisted in my mind as something that could be useful.
Right now, it’s June 12th at 12:34am and I am writing the first blog post on my own website, coachspeak.net. The concept behind it is not nearly as ambitious as we had set out to achieve with Conclave but it is still something born out of a desire to serve coaches. Sunday morning, June 11th I just had a notion. I decided to do a search online to see if the domain name for “CoachSpeak” was available. The variation, “Coach-Speak.net” happened to be so I decided to claim it and started to construct a site on WordPress. Since then, I was able to secure “coachspeak.net”. I was pleasantly surprised by how functional it was and found myself immersed in designing the site. More importantly, I became consumed with the idea of how I wanted to utilize a website.
I love coaches, I want to hear their stories and I am convinced that sports fans and followers do too. We often hear about coaches but we very rarely hear from them beyond quotes and sound bites fed to us through the lens of the storyteller (the media). I want to hear the story as told by the coach in his/her words. Coaches are great communicators. That’s what they do! So I wanted to create a forum where coaches of all levels from various sports can tell their stories about whatever it is they want to share. I want to hear from some of the best and most well renowned head coaches in sports but I also want to hear from the graduate assistant Football coach, the Division 2 softball coach, High School, AAU and Division 1 assistant Basketball coaches from the Men’s and Women’s game.
I’m so excited that I will have a chance to see so many interesting stories and perspectives from so many talented and interesting people. I know first hand that a life in coaching is a tremendous journey filled with a wide range of experiences. I personally have been very blessed in a profession that is extremely volatile and competitive. I’ve been hired into dream jobs and lived in some of the greatest places in the country. I have experienced the joys of success and have endured the heartbreak of failure. I am a coach.
The absolute best part about being a coach, and every coach will tell you this, is the relationships forged over time. Some of the best relationships I have are with fellow coaches. Prior to writing this particular post I began reaching out to several of those who I believe are dynamic personalities and brilliant minds in the coaching profession. The feedback was immediate and overwhelmingly positive. I could sense right away that there was a real desire in every coach I spoke to to exercise a different level of expression. So I am happy to be able to provide such an opportunity and eager to enjoy what so many gifted people will be willing to share. I can’t wait!
June 12th, 4:04am
Rob Lanier is currently the Head Coach at SMU. Prior to SMU he spent the previous 3 years as the Head Coach at Georgia State University. Before Georgia State spent 4 years at The University of Tennessee under Rick Barnes. Rob finished his playing career at St Bonaventure University in 1990 and began his career in coaching under Jack Armstrong at Niagara University that summer. In 1992 he moved on to his alma mater under Jim Baron for 5 seasons followed by stints at Rutgers and Texas before being named head coach at Siena College in 2001 where he led the Saints to two postseason appearances (2002 NCAA & 2003 NIT). After Siena Rob worked at Virginia under Dave Leitao (2005-07) and under Billy Donovan (2007-2011) before reuniting with Barnes at Texas in 2011.
Follow Rob Lanier on twitter: @icehandler
Follow Coach-Speak.net on twitter: @CoachSpeaknet