Dear Younger Self

“Dear Younger Self…”

Know what you don't know. It is so much more impressive to see a young professional that is willing to admit they don't have all of the answers, ask for help, and be willing to learn than it is to see someone try to impress you by pretending to know more than they really do.

Stephen DolanBig South Conference - Assistant Commissioner

Be available. The answer is always, "yes I can assist with that" or "Yes, I can take care of that". And if you don't know how, ASK! Put that pride aside. It's always better to ask and do it right than to guess and get it wrong.

Darien HarrisMichigan State - Director of Player Engagement

There is no substitute for hard work and experience. Do the very best job you can in your current position and opportunities will come. Don't spend time and energy looking at your next steps or your entire career path. You will not get these opportunities unless you are recognized by others for being authentic, hard-working, values-based, and dependable. Network with others at other schools so you can keep on top of changes and trends in the field. These people will undoubtedly be your confidantes, trustworthy colleagues, and life-long friends as you grow in your career.

Kim DurandUniversity of Washington - Senior Associate Athletic Director for Student Development

Communicate often with professionals in similar positions - lean on their expertise and experience-don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be positive and confident!

Stephanie BalleinVirginia Tech - Men’s Basketball Assoc AD/Chief of Staff

Bet on yourself 100/100 times. Never stop learning (This doesn't mean from solely a place of higher education. Learn from people, reading, experiencing, trying new things, & other resources). Learn and master the art of networking and communicating effectively.

Reggie JenningsTCU - Coordinator of Student Development Services

Want to submit a quote? Send an email to 

Have patience and enjoy the process of getting better and growing where you are planted. Networking is an important part of your professional grow. Do not be afraid to join committee's or get involved with national organizations.

Marlon DechausayUniversity of Memphis - Associate AD for Student-Athlete Welfare

Each and every day and each and every interaction is an interview for a future role because you are continually building your brand. How you go about your daily work during good times and bad will be what provides you the opportunity to progress.

Brian Russell, Ph.D.University of Illinois - Senior Associate Athletic Director

Want to Learn More about Game Plan? Click Here

Want to submit a quote? Send an email to 

First and foremost, be grateful for the opportunity. College athletics is a highly competitive industry with a relatively small fraternity of tremendously talented people - so don't take your job for granted. Secondly, never lose focus on the fact that you work in higher education where you're afforded the unique opportunity to have a positive impact on the lives of young people. Thirdly, maintain a service-minded attitude and approach to everything that you do. And finally, embrace the challenge and enjoy the ride.

Daniel McCarthyUniversity of South Alabama - Deputy Athletics Director

Have as many assistant coaches as possible in the building. But don’t settle for help that isn’t loyal and dependable.

James WardWakefield High School - Head Football Coach

Do every job handed to you to the best of your ability, do not be afraid of work. Also, do not be too prideful over what the actual task is. Whatever task is handed to you do it to the best of your ability. Even now, if I am handed a roster and I am in charge of checking role for a team meal I try to be the best role checker that I can be.

JP GunterECU Football - Director of Recruiting & Player Personnel

Know who you are, what are your values? Then from that, create a philosophy for your coaching and your program based on your values. Come up with your program’s vision statement and core values; use it as your North Star when things get tough and you need to make tough decisions. Make sure to coach with Love AND Accountability...must have both.

Masaki MatsumotoLincoln HS (Tacoma,WA) - Head Football Coach

Take notes during every conversation when operational work items are being discussed. So much new information will be conveyed during every conversation that seemingly mundane and straightforward items can get lost in the shuffle as new information is being committed to memory. Thorough notes can help alleviate uncertainly when looking for confirmation.

A.J. EddsBig Ten Conference - Assistant Director of Sports Administration

Maximize the relationships you have and spend time considering what you learned in college and how it can apply to your current job. Avoid immediate gratification and living in the past as an athlete so you can develop a new self-image that’s unrelated to sports. So much of your personal growth will come as you learn what it’s like to live life in a way that’s not part of the athlete life.

Tyson LeeElementary School Principal (Former Mississippi State Quarterback)

Learn as much as you can from people who have gone before you, what doesn't work is just as important as what does work.

Andrew YoungAssociation of Volleyball Professionals - Director of Operations

Want to Learn More about Game Plan? Click Here

Take a lot of notes during meetings, but start with the same three questions. What is going well? What can be improved upon? and How can I help make your job easier?

Kristin RusboldtUNC Greensboro - Associate AD for Student-Athlete Support Services/Diversity & Intercultural Engagement

Absorb as much information as you can from people you RESPECT. They don’t have to be in athletics, they just need to be people you admire.

Celie EdwardsJH Rose HS (Greenville,NC) - Head Lacrosse Coach

Something I was told in 2009 as a graduate student has stuck with me for all these years, "Apply to your first job and never send an application again". This was shared at the NCAA Emerging Leaders Seminar by Director of Athletics at The Ohio State University, Gene Smith. Let your work be your resume. If you are performing at a high level people will notice and people will find you.

Mark TrumboSyracuse University - Assistant Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Engagement

Don't make your goal a job title. Try to focus on the content of the work, who you'll surround yourself with, and who you'll have an opportunity to impact.

Josh PridokasIMG Academy - Assistant Athletic Director

Go in with an open mind, and listen to everyone. Everybody in the profession has something to offer.

Michael BehrLackawanna College - Quarterback / Specialists Coach

We cannot always choose when opportunities present themselves to us. However, you will benefit from being the person that puts his or her hand up when someone needs to take on more work and responsibility, even if you might need to learn as you do.

Brett LuyUnited Soccer League - Senior VP, League Operations

Want to submit a quote? Send an email to 

Have patience and enjoy the process of getting better and growing where you are planted. Networking is an important part of your professional grow. Do not be afraid to join committee's or get involved with national organizations.

Alec BrownBeyond Sports Foundation - Executive Director

Be a sponge, learn from your experience and those around you in the profession, don’t be afraid of failure as it breeds success if you keep working!

Xavier ChurnacJamestown Community College - Head Men's Basketball Coach

When asked “What is your biggest worry as a Coach”, over 90% of all surveyed answered Off The Field.

“We use athletics as a tool to teach life lessons. My hope is that our kids are able to take those lessons and apply them to their everyday lives. Many of them are dealing with all kinds of issues at home. I want them to feel like they can take on and overcome anything.”

It’s a game and it’s supposed to be fun. So have fun with it! Decide how much of a commitment you are willing to make and if you are unsure. Then this is not the business for you.

Riley McGillanLongwood University - Director of Basketball Operations

It's not about who you know, it's about who knows you. Do your best to network and meet people within the profession. Get your name out as much as possible. And most of all, whatever your job is currently, do a good job at it. Hard work pays off. Especially when others know how hard you work.

Travis SmithDouglas County HS - Athletic Director / Offensive Coordinator

Absorb everything. There’s so many unknowns in coaching. Ask a lot of questions, take a lot of notes, and recruit everyday.

John CannovaTexas Tech - Assistant OL Coach

Want to Learn More about Game Plan? Click Here

Michael: exercise your faith, be humble at all times, and put in the work; especially when others are not willing to – God has a plan.

Michael JohnsonFlorida A&M - Associate Athletic Director - Administration and Operations

I would really give myself two big pieces of advice. Take Notes and know when to shut your mouth. I think there are, especially in this era of social media, so many young coaches getting into the game and being outspoken. We don’t know everything, and it’s good for a coach to sometimes keep his mouth shut and ask questions later.”

Tony ShiffmanLake Forest College - Offensive Line Coach

Learn your craft and be good at your job. Have a good sense of humor, but take your profession seriously. Be patient and finally, be likeable!

Colleen EvansUniversity of South Dakota - Director, Student Athlete Success Center

Set the bar High! I’m the first person in my entire family to go to college, then to get a Masters degree, and now I’m a Principal. Odds against me. Dad died when I was 9. We grew up relatively poor. Your circumstances do NOT determine your future: you do.

Chris ForeThe Palmdale Aerospace Academy (Palmdale, CA) - Principal

Want to submit a quote? Send an email to 

Want to Learn More about Game Plan? Click Here