Primesport NABC Next Generation is an interview series with assistant coaches and support staff from across the country, highlighting their career experiences and future goals. Today's feature is Hope College assistant Jeff Carlson.
Why did you decide to become a coach?
“Some of the greatest role models and influences on my life were coaches, and I want to have that positive impact on young people. I love to teach and compete and there is no other occupation in the world that you can do both and use those as platforms to influence lives.”
How would you describe your coaching and leadership style?
“I would like to describe my coaching and leadership style as servant leadership with a strong dose of honesty and integrity. I am a firm believer that people will naturally follow a leader that is selfless and is willing to do and show, not necessarily tell. If I’m picking up empty Gatorade bottles in our locker room after an away game, I can almost guarantee you our players will soon be doing the same thing without me having to say a word.”
“On the honesty and integrity piece, I’m also a firm believer that athletes want the truth and will appreciate the truth - maybe not at that moment, but at some point they’ll appreciate it. Also, shame on us for not telling our athletes the truth. It doesn’t teach them anything and if they figure out you’re always lying to them, good luck in having them truly buy into your coaching. No trust equals no relationship equals no success.”
Aside from knowledge of the game, what skill do you feel is most important for coaches to possess?
“The ability to build relationships with their athletes. If strong, trusting relationships are built, players will more than likely be willing to listen to and buy into whatever the coach is trying to get the athlete or team to do.”
How do you handle setbacks in your career? And what have you learned from them?
“Work harder and analyze the setback. What happened? Why did it happen? What can I do to make sure it doesn’t happen again? I’ve learned that setbacks can be some of the best learning and teaching moments if they are taken and used with an open mind.”
What kind of impact – both on the court and off – do you hope to have on your student-athletes?
“I hope that my student-athletes feel like I am someone they can come to with any questions, comments, and/or concerns they have about anything that happens in their lives. I hope they want to make sure they contact me when they’re back in town after they graduate. I want them to see me in my roles as a husband, dad, brother, uncle, son, and want to emulate that - to an extent.”
If you were told to craft a mission statement for your team, what would it say?
“We will compete as a team to the best of our abilities, support each other to the best of our abilities, and represent ourselves, our teammates, and our families to the best of our abilities. We will play hard together
What’s the one piece of advice you would give a first-year coach?
“Create trusting relationships with your players and staff. If there is no trust in those relationships, getting anything else accomplished is going to be a tall task.”