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June 7, 2022

Keeping the Main Thing, The Main Thing w/Kevin Devitt

Keeping the Main Thing, The Main Thing w/Kevin Devitt

#44. This episode features Kevin Devitt assistant basketball coach at Niagara University. In this episode, we'll discuss Coach Devitt's fascinating journey to becoming a D1 basketball coach, what it takes to get to that level, what his vision is once he becomes a head coach, and how we keep the main thing, the main thing as coaches. 

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Transcript

Luke:

This is episode 44 of the podcast.

Kevin:

I'm going to take the thought of that. If it helps them, it's going to help us. It's not going to deter us. It's not going to break us apart.

Luke:

Today's episode features Kevin Devitt assistant basketball coach at Niagara university. In this episode, we'll discuss what it takes to get to that level. What his vision is once he becomes a head coach and how we keep the main thing, the main thing as coaches. Here's coach to vet Coach. Good morning. Welcome to The "I" in Win. I appreciate you hopping on with us this morning. How's the weather out there? I know it's always a little bit cold.

Kevin:

It definitely is a little bit Kohler. Uh it's the end of may and it still hasn't hit, you know, 80 plus degrees out here, which I'm sure it's kind of the same weather as Chicago, but, the Western New York. Uh, they say it's the best in the spring time. And then we're kind of, you know, definitely a little bit past that now, but, uh, the weather's, the weather is okay. There's no snow on the ground. So it's.

Luke:

Well, I know when you get snow, you really get snow, but at least Chicago helped prepare you a little bit for where you're at right now and do my research on it. You have a fascinating story to how you got to where you're at right now. And I want to go back to. A tough time in your life. And that was when you were a collegiate athlete at DePaul and you had this life altering experience. Talk us through that injury that happened.

Kevin:

Yeah, no, I was a freshmen, track athletes, sprinter at DePaul. And, um, it was kind of a freak incident. I was, I was warming up on our indoor track, getting ready for a workout prior to, you know, I think we had a meet coming up and the following week at Notre Dame and I was holding out of the railing, kind of just getting my legs loose and. I basically flipped, from the second story tracks. So, I think, you know, it was about 20 feet fall, 20 foot fall. And, that kind of, that definitely changed my life significantly, to be a 19 year old and kind of, just doing something that you love and it's your identity. As far as me being a student athlete, being a member of our track team at DePaul, and. Going from not being able to physically run for six months and kind of going through a lot of thoughts in my head about, how this fall impacted me and my train of thought. As far as I guess my maturity level changed in a heartbeat to where I can. disengaged from thinking about, you know, what I'm going to do tomorrow to what I'm gonna do five years from then, and 10 years from that in 20 years. And so, it was a, blessing in disguise, which was, it was a physically harming thing to my body. Luckily I was okay. Major concussion. But when you fall 20 feet onto a hardwood basketball for, uh, the irony in it was that I, Fell right where I should be in work. Right. Where I am right now. And that's a basketball coach. So, it was, it was changing and, um, and I I'm glad it happened, because it set me on the path of, you know, kind of where I am.

Luke:

So, you got to suddenly reinvent yourself. You mentioned in your explanation of the injury, that your identity was being an athlete. Many of us grew up that way. And we think only in terms of being an athlete and we have teachers and coaches that are telling us, Hey, you're a student first. And sometimes we don't always hear that message, but you had that reality and suddenly you had to reinvent yourself. So how difficult was that transition to go from Kevin, the star track athlete to just.

Kevin:

No question. and, and I think, that was something in my life where at that age where you're, you know, 18, 19 years old, where you're still kind of worried about what your peers think of you. I had to start thinking more like an adult and, um, it was a harsh reality to the point of. I wanted to do something that was going to make those around me, proud of what I, could become, because once that athlete part of you is, done. It was okay, what are we using college for? As far as this education, how is this going to change my life, four years from now when I graduated. What do I want to do? and there was so many things that were, kind of twirling in my head at that time where I had to really, I don't think I'd show, I don't think I picked a major yet. I was too young, so I was still undecided. So I was taking general education courses and I was, still in the, in the, process of trying to figure out what it was that I wanted to become. And I think something hit me, quite quickly. I didn't want to sit behind a desk and have a nine to five per se. I wanted to do something where I could help other people. And I think ultimately I saw. Through my experiences at the high school level, and then the college level, the impact that coaches had in my life. You know, my dad, when he was, you know, when I was younger, my dad, you know, was in business, but he coached my little league baseball team. And I think those are my most fondest memories with him, from maybe like third grade to seventh grade, uh, where. he did a great job of cultivating these relationships with these, kids that we coached, you know, in the spring time. And we had a lot of fun and I could see the impact that he had on them. Now it wasn't a big time travel team. in-house baseball league, but, you know, we didn't have the best guy. Then you have the worst guys. we were a pretty good program and you know, maybe one year we were the Cincinnati reds, the following year, we the Rockies. But you know, what, if we won the game, my pops would probably take the guys out for ice cream and you'd still, pick up, uh, you know, Joey, Tommy, Timmy down the street to drive into practice to make sure they could make it there. So. Me as a kid growing up and seeing his impact and then going to high school and being impacted by those, teachers and coaches. I think got me in the mindset of. I want to impact people's lives. And I want them to try to become the best versions of themselves. And I think great coaches can do that. and people need to, be reaffirmed that somebody else sees something in them. And then it allows them to become the. And, um, I think there's not enough of that going on because, uh, you could realize greatness in somebody, but they can't see it in themselves quite yet. And your job as a coach is to get them to that level. I think in my first coaching position, I think I was coaching. I was coaching on the south side of Chicago at Lindblom high school, a freshman basketball team. and that just my, my whole purpose there was to make sure that these guys that were underneath my care, became better versions of themselves. People, players, everything, but I, I needed to help them get there and. I was 20 years old, then I'm 35. Now, 15 years later, it's a much different level, but it's kind of one in the same where you're just trying to make individuals the best version of.

Luke:

Absolutely coaching is coaching. And I love the fact that you gave that shout out to your dad. We have a, we have a lot of parents out there that volunteered their time to coach. I know I am not one of them. I like to just go and watch my kids play sports, but I see these other parents that volunteer their time. Unfortunately, they don't always get the thank you. So I'm glad to hear that you did have that experience with your dad and clearly it did have that positive impact on you. And also you mentioned your high school teachers and coaches. Let's take a minute and give a shout out to some of those that had an impact on you and what you took away from them.

Kevin:

Yeah, no. My experience at Carmel was, second to none. I was on the football team and I was on the track team. Brian Glaschagel, who's obviously your, your rival at Antioch high school was my defensive backs coach, And he was also my middle school PE teacher. I'm an athletic director and he's the one that first kind of, I think when I was in high school. My service hours, uh, caramel. I decided that I was going to coach our middle school track team, where I went to middle school where he was the D a. So it became kind of a thing. My sister, a couple of our friends, like a friend of ours, that was a jumps coach. My sister coached the distance. I coached sprinters and we all kind of got together. And that was my, he gave me my first opportunity to actually. go from student athlete to coach and that was in, uh, in high school. Right. but he did, something for me that changed my life in that aspect. Um, but Andy bidder was our head coach at the time, obviously, you know, as a whole favor, um, he, he, he did an incredible job, but thinking back to just football solely Jim Reggie, who's also on the staff at Antioch was our defensive. And I, and I, you know, we had a very good team and a really good program and looking back on it now, 17 years later, like what they did there, to cultivate that culture that we had of, hard work. and just relentless pursuit of our goals as far as being a championship program, um, in the standard, in the, that they held us to was just incredible. And am so thankful for that experience, but I. I can remember on Fridays, we play at seven o'clock as most teams would. Right. you know, we'd go through a pregame ritual starting at three o'clock, it was special teams meetings on to, pregame meal, then we'd break off and the offense. And I remember being in a, in our classroom and I was a defensive back. So I didn't, you know, like the only thing I'm caring about in the, in the, it was the last thing in the huddle. The Lineback call we'll do, it was covered to cover six or one. I'm not listening to everything else. Right. But, our defensive coordinator, Jim Reggie, I remember sitting in the back of the classroom and his pregame speeches and talks his, detail. just got me just at the time. I didn't even understand the game that way. But I knew that he did, and it gave me such a sense of confidence and belief in what we were doing, that I knew everybody in the room was going to be on the same page and we're going to go out there and probably most likely, you know, hold a team under. 14 points or seven points or 10 points, whatever was going to be. And I, and I've taken so much of that now as a collegiate basketball coach in my scouting and preparation and how I go in detailed toward to our team sitting here in the film room when I explained how we're going to stop our opponent, you know? And then secondly, Jim Helford was my track and field coach at Carmel. And he was a guy that just, he was somebody that believed in me more than I believed in myself. And he gave me the opportunity to, showcase that and, you know, just a great mentor in my life. but ultimately those, people there. the environment that they created, was second to none. And I don't know where it is at this point. You know, like I said, being removed from the high school level for so long, but I would hope that, you know, I have a six month olds. That he gets to be put into, someone's care that is going to treat him and develop him the same way that, that I was fortunate and able to do. So I think like those lasting impressions are now who I become as a, as a grown person, because I want to be able to turn that back.

Luke:

It's really a fascinating story. High school football player, track athlete, collegiate track athlete. As you said earlier, ironically, fall to a basketball court that ends your athletic career and boom, here you are a division one basketball. Um, you know, my, my moniker, something I believe wholeheartedly, and I live my lifestyle by it is uncommon. Be willing to do what others are not willing to do. Right. And I've done my research on you. And I know you have a similar mindset and you're, you have an uncommon path to where you're at right now. So why basketball given your experience of football and.

Kevin:

That's a great question. You know, what it came down to for me was the going back to, you know, before we started recording live and, talking about relationships and I mean, listen, I was a teacher on the west side of Chicago for a year. I taught. First through eighth grade, PE I got my PE degree. So I'm a teacher certified. I could, go back tomorrow and be a teacher at the elementary, middle school or high school level. It came down to simply relationships. and I I'm gonna phrase it like this to where in football, what I felt was There was, you know, 70 to 80 guys on our team. and whereas in basketball, there's going to be, you know, 13 to 15 in division one. Right now we have 13 scholarships. Okay. I felt as if I was a head football coach and this is listen, you're a head football coach. So I'm not, Mean to be any offense taken by this? I felt if I became a head basketball coach, I could have a direct impact on 13 to 15 guys, I felt in football, if I was a positional coach, I could kind of have the same impact. And maybe as a coordinator a little bit less, but as a head coach, I felt like it was so hard to be able to have meaningful and impactful relationships with each one of your student athletes. Whereas in basketball, It's too close proximity where there's, the numbers will allow for it. And you have to coach each guy hands-on and ultimately like there's part of me that wishes, Hey, I wish I would have, gone into football and become an elite, secondary coach at, at a really high level or something. And, and, you know, in my room full of 10 guys, like. It's me and them. And I, I love that feeling. You know, I coach high school track at Richards, same thing with a relay team. You know, those four guys are your mid distance group, your sprint group. Um, you're just more hands on it. And so that's what ultimately led me to basketball. And I always had a passion for the game, but I just wasn't. I am who I am. I'm uh, I wasn't going to be a big time basketball player. I was, you know, my body type, my athletic ability. Warranted me to honestly be a better football and track athlete, which I did. And I think that was, for me, that was best. but I think as a coach, you can take all these things that you learn in any sport realm and then become a master. That's what. My F like, I'm, I'm on the call with you right now, but what am I doing right now? I'm watching a ton of film. I'm all, it's in a ton of film all the time to make sure that my mind is really sharp, too, understand the game at the highest level. So I can give that to my, players, you know, student athletes here. Um, so that's kind of long story short. That's how I, transitioned from football and track to, tobacco.

Luke:

So let's work back to the 21 year old who no longer is a collegiate athlete and you decide to start your own website. And you're, you're pretty much, I don't know, kind of like a, you're a rivals before rivals and you're and you're out there. You're out there scouting basketball players in Chicago land area. And then you decide to start a high school all-star game, uh, which I believe was called the Chicago high school class.

Kevin:

yes.

Luke:

How the heck as a 21 year old, did you figure out how to do all of this? Take us through that process.

Kevin:

so after that fall happened, my, my roommate and college. He was also, uh, actually a caramel student athlete as well. And he, you know, he's on the track team with me at, at DePaul. He was much better than I was. I still hold a school record in the 400, uh, he's hit all. So, but at the time he wanted to, get into web design and I wanted to get into, to this line and he and I sold him. I said, listen for us both to make our future selves. How about, we kind of worked together where I'm going to give you a platform to showcase your ability to build a website, maintain a website, and I'm going to just provide you the content. Well, in the meantime, he kind of basically taught me how to use HTML. Like he got me off the ground and then he kind of, turn it over to me. Right. So. Would you have to realize at the time was I knew what good players were but I wanted to provide more coverage for student athletes to showcase their story, so, so stuff behind the scenes that you're not going to, you know, the daily Herald, I thought did a pretty good job. The Chicago Tribune did a pretty good job, but you know, they don't. Do enough. Right? And so I want to provide and give back, to, to these student athletes and these basketball players specifically to tell their stories. And so at the onset of this website, it was more providing that it was, it was coverage of games. It was pictures, it was YouTube videos. It was, you know, we had a message war. This was prior to. This is Friday Instagram. I think if you look at my YouTube site, we were probably one of the first to start doing mix tapes, you know, highlight tapes. Um, and that was, 15 years ago, right. There was no HD footage. It was very grainy. I would be going back to my dorm room each night, trying to update the website from that night's games. And so. I want it to work together to help give another person, my roommate, a platform for his passion, which was building a website. And then I actually employed, uh, not employed, but another person in our, circle of friends, Scott Phillips, who actually. You know, it was a big time, you know, him and Michael O'Brien were big time in the sun times. Um, well, they, Scott actually became that later on. but he would write from our website as well. So I wanted to give him a platform as a college student to help his career in the future. That was originally the design for the website. And then we kind of got into more. So the basketball and the levels, we didn't want to categorize guys as, oh, he's a low, major, high major D two players. We wanted other people to do that. We just want it to be a platform to showcase their.

Luke:

fascinating. You're, you're just such a forward thinker Like you I'm sure. I read tons of books on successful people. And just sitting here talking about you, like this is the pathway. You have to be a forward thinker. You have to be willing to step outside your comfort zone a little bit, which you clearly did. Right? I mean, you're, you're jumping into web design and. Recruiting reports on basketball when you really were a football track athlete. I mean, this is really the pathway. It's really a fascinating story. And then you ended up landing a job. As you said on the west side of Chicago, what did that experience teach you? Work in an elementary school, being a freshman basketball coach. What'd you take away from that exposure?

Kevin:

Oh man, it was, it was awesome. You know, I think I, got in my first coaching job, I think I was a sophomore or junior at DePaul. And it was at Lingbloom high school, which is an Inglewood on the south side, off 63rd and Walcott. So, so at the time I was coaching, I was doing that. I was doing the website and, and I was doing the all-star game and I was going to school. And at that point, I think maybe a year or two, when two. Um, Michael Brian from the Sun-Times asked me to join his staff and I kind of veered off from, the website and I concentrated more on coaching. I, you know, the timeframe always, always gets kind of tripped up, but, you know, I remember waking up at 4 35 in the morning, and drive into the south side, picking up a couple of. Kids and bringing them to practice. Cause we practiced at six 30 in the morning because we only had one gym. And so the only time we were going to be able to practice was early in the morning. So sometimes the CTA would, I think the seats sometimes CTA is 24 hours. Sometimes. Maybe it starts at five or six. So some guys. Could could make it some guys, I would have to go scoop up. but that was the only way for us to get in the gym was to start early. And so we would practice before school. Um, and then I would go to school, myself, obviously I would go back to the campus at DePaul. I would go to my two or three classes. What have you during the day? And then after that, I would go. to the Sun-Times I would either cover a high school game. I would scout for our varsity team at Lindblom and then I would, probably work the later shift at the Sun-Times from seven to 12, because you know, all the scores are being reported late. And at the time, like I said, the, the, the website, the, your season.com, I think it was, was starting to gain some traction. And I think they did a great job with it. And I think. The coverage in the Chicago land area was still what it was back then, because it was something that we were proud to be a part of. but that was kind of my day, as a college student. Right. And I think after I graduate, you know, the all-star game was going and, and things like that. And after I graduated, you know, I was 22 or 23. What have you, uh, reality hits you in the face really quickly. You think that you've established such a good resume and a rapport, even as a younger person that, you know, at 23, you should be the, you know, I was thinking I should be the high to varsity coach at, you know, lakes, high school or lakes or high school or Libertyville, whatever. Okay. And I soon realized that wasn't going to happen. Like there's just as a teacher. Um, and as a teacher and a coach, okay. I realized, when I was at Richards high school, I was student teaching. I was coaching the freshmen basketball team. I was coaching as an assistant on the track and field team. Right. I quickly realized that what I couldn't get over with the high school profession was that I would eventually have to wait my time in a powerful school district per se, to get years of experience to them. Perhaps get bumped up to be the varsity head, coach, which is something that I've felt like. I should be having a chance that sooner rather than later, and I didn't want to wait, you know, and I, and therefore, I realized quickly that I wanted to get into the college game because I felt that my work ethic would eventually help me lead me to greener pastures quicker and, and not, not to say better, but just a lifestyle to where it was more conducive to me. And so. I, I became a teacher on the, west side of Chicago at a school called ma elementary school. As we talked about prior, I was my first job out of college and I had to leave my coaching job at Richard's because the commute was going to be about 45 minutes plus, so I couldn't make it for practice at three 30. So I decided to become a volunteer assistant at Roosevelt university, which just started their basketball program. And so I was. Teaching during the day from seven to three at three o'clock, I would drive 20 minutes downtown. I would, we would go to practice from three to five and then at five I would hit the road and go to a high school game from seven to nine and kind of rinse and repeat throughout that course of the year. but being in that environment as a teacher, in one of, uh, it was a very, uh, it was an underperforming school that has been since shut down when they did a lot of CPS school closings. It was just an environment that really looking back on it in my life. I was so fortunate to have the path that I've had, because it's allowed me to such a different perspective. Coming from where I came from at Carmel, per se, growing up more so in the Northwest suburbs, going to DePaul. Okay. Going to the city to understand that landscape then to teach on or excuse me, coach on the south side and then teach on the west side. I think I had all my bases covered as far as, understanding so much. So what in Chicago and the greater area, I think is a good symbolization for. You know, the United States as a whole, I was in every sort of situation imaginable where I had experience with so many different people that was gonna allow me to become, I think, a really high level, communicator. And there'd be able to really relate into, in to be able to touch different areas of pockets of people. Because I had spent time in so many different situations. I think that ultimately I think will, is going to, and it has helped me. Hopefully when I become a head coach in, and even as an assistant coach right now in the recruiting process and how we coach and how we interact with our student.

Luke:

Sticking on that Roosevelt university point, we share that similarity and building a program from scratch. You got to be a part of that at Roosevelt. I got to be a part of that. The high school. And I people ask me about it all the time and I tell them, it's kinda like doubles as a football player. It's the greatest experience of your life that you never want to do again, at least for me, I don't know if I would have the, uh, the energy to set our program from scratch again, because it becomes your life. And I read an interesting quote from one of the assistant coaches at Roosevelt describing you, and basically talks to the point that you were willing to sacrifice. Your personal life for even the smallest task, if it was going to help Roosevelt university basketball. Well, now that's changed. You're married. You have a, you have a child explain a little bit about what you're figuring out about the balance of life. As a very driven, it's very clear. You're very driven coach. How do you balance it? How you learn to balance that now?

Kevin:

Yeah, no. If you ask my wife about that, she'd probably still agree that I would still be in the same, the same person. What? Listen, I, I, I am to an extent, right. you know, having a six month old has changed my life. and it's changed my perspective now? being a, father, uh, it's going to help me become a better coach is going to help me have more empathy and have more patients, uh, have more clear direction, uh, when you're, when you're speaking or accountability from, when my. You know, starts to walk and talk and my accountability towards him, as far as my accountability towards my student athletes, Right. Like there's such a, there's such a great, it's an amazing thing. Being a dad, so that is helped open my eyes so much and it's helped me become a better coach. Better. and I want to be a great father from, for my son. I think that's going to be the first and foremost priority. And the guys that I've worked for such as Greg Paul's, who I work for car currently, uh, Rob e-sign, who I worked for in the past, Billy Donlin, Jared Hass, Joe Griffin, John Chapin. Zach Linderman all the way down the line, all those guys that I previously worked on under that, I, I, I think I listed all of my, I apologize if I missed them. I don't think I did, but all those guys have families of their own and they're great fathers first and foremost. And I don't think that, you know, I'd be doing them a disservice if I was something different, right. Because. Ultimately, yes, they've taught me the game. but they've, they've also helped, you know, I I've saw firsthand what it takes to be a good father and a good basketball coach at the same time. And ultimately I have only one family and I, you know, I have one son right now and those, you know, they're going to be with me forever. Each team is going to be different. Right. but I think you have to use your time. Your time management has to be elite. You know, it's really about your sleep schedule. If you're really willing to give up more, you know, less sleep, then there's, you can still get everything done in the day. But in college basketball and college football, High school football back, whatever, any, any sport there's a process that has to be laid down and a foundation that has to be late every single year. And it has to be, you know, radon restarted from scratch because the second that you lose that, that's the second that your program isn't going to be functioning at the level that you think it should be or can be. And, what others don't understand that our coaching is that you can't skip steps. You have to continually, drive for better ideas, better ways of coaching, right? Better ways of communication. And the second that you stop that race to become the best version of yourself as a coach, then it's going to ultimately, fall in the hands of your players, your staff, because you're not going to be succeeding at the best level that you think you can. So, you know, to wrap up that kind of question, having a child and a family is great perspective, but I think there's, you have to be great at that. And you have to be great coach too, and you can't step skip steps in either, so I wouldn't sacrifice, you know, I want to go to my son's little league game, you know, if I, you know, I want to be there for him and support him in those endeavors. And like, that's not going to come at the expense of, me being a coach. Right.

Luke:

Right. Absolutely. I mean, the reality is when you take on this profession, there really isn't balanced. So really what you're striving for is more balanced because the process is the process. And I completely agree. I tell my staff all the time. Look, I have a wife, I have kids, I get it. But the job is the job. This is what we've all accepted. And you have to walk into it with the knowledge of what you are responsible for and who you are responsible for. And you'll see this as your son gets older. And if you have more. My kids completely understand that. So if I have to miss something, they don't hold it against me. In fact, I think I'm teaching them a lesson too. sometimes you have to put others before yourself and sometimes it does come at the cost of something that I would rather do, but that's what we take on as coaches. But like you're saying, we have to continually search for more balance. If that means we have to sacrifice sleep, if that means. We can't watch as much Netflix, whatever it may be. You know, in my case, I love to read, I can't read as much as I used to. There's just, there's just not enough time. So I'm trying to evolve myself and I listen to books on tape. Now. I don't like it as much, but at least I'm still trying to get something, but yes, it's creating, it's creating more balance. And the other thing that you have to deal with that I don't have to as much. So is. Being a little bit more nomadic and we've already hit a couple of your stops. I know you're also at we're at Wright state as well. And you were at UAB and at UAB, you had two great experiences. I shouldn't say that you had to experience that gave you the reality of being a division one. Coach won the NCAA tournament, and then to the reality of all right now, I'm going to find another job. So Take us through that experience of the NCAA tournament and then also the reality of man, I have to go find another job.

Kevin:

Yeah, no question. I think, um, the NCAA tournament is, uh, it's addicting, you know, I think, well, I've only been there once, but the, feeling and the rush and what it gives for you and your program and your kids, like it's something that's undescribable and. You know, every year when you watch it, you know, you wish you were a part of it. And it's, it's one of those deals where if you're not a part of it, that month of the NCAA tournament or that at least the first week is as coaches, that aren't a part of it in division one is just kinda like, man, it's it's it's. The depressing, but it gives you fuel and motivation to want to partake in that. Be able to be a part of something that's special and such something that's so much bigger than you it's. It's incredible. so I, I think every coach, and I think when you deal with these one bit leagues, like we are, you know, there's going to be one representative from the Mac, right. And this year was St Peter's and, you know, they made a run to the lead eight and you know, I could have told you that. I think they won 10 straight. I think they beat us the second game out of that 10 game win streak. And I always sit in there on the bench and I could, I literally could I tapped other assistant coach and I said, man, I like, it's not so much about us right now. It's more so about them and how good they are. I could feel their connectedness. And, um, I think those, those experiences such as UAB, you know, we were a force in our conference tournament and we made a run and, and made it. And then, you know, we beat Iowa state. I think we were. Uh, 14 seed and they were three seed. Right? So being a part of a big time, underdog story is always, even more, more so than it would be being a, a one seat or two seat knocking off of a 16 or 15 seed in the first round and, you know, kind of go about your business. So, if I get to that point, I hope we're talking, you know, you know, 10, 15 years from now, but, um,

Luke:

Talking, I hope I'm on your staff at that point, man.

Kevin:

I hope so, too. But you know, as far as being this, this profession is volatile, you know? Like you mentioned UAB, you know, we won 76 games in four years. We had two straight 21 seasons could have been a third season, got cut short by COVID. We were supposed to play Western Kentucky in the quarter finals of the conference USA tournament. We had 19 wins and counting at the time. and you know, at Wright state we won 22 games. We made the championship game and the Horizon league tournament and we lost to green bay and we were let go. You know, a week or two thereafter. So I've been a part of that twice. And, um, once again, part a part of this story, like just looking back at, you know, everything that we've talked about. To this point. And now, looking at my career at the division one level now to be, let go twice you know, you really have to do a lot of soul searching to figure out if this is really what you're about, because there are so many sacrifices that you're going to have to make. And that's, you know, we talked about it, family. time specifically, money moving, right? Just being able to pick up on a dime and sell your house or rent a new place. What have you. Um, and so I've been through that twice and it's made me so much more appreciative, to have a job and to do a great job and to just to know how quickly it can be lost. Now, it's not always going to be about your winner, wins and losses. You know, it could be about other things, but I think we did a very good job at UAB. The most of the country would probably agree with you. but there's always somebody that's going to do something better. And I think that's something that's always chasing Jay, you know, and in my life, I, I want it, like I have to become the best version of myself because ultimately, you know, I don't have a background that somebody else has in there. I wasn't a former star player. I'm always going to have to deal with that. Right. and so I have to become the best version of myself all the time. So that's kind of what motivates me. I want to be better, next year than we were this year. And I'm going to try to find everything. Detail to give us that much more of an advantage as, an assistant coach for our program. Right. but, just understanding that this can be taken away from you. And there's so many people want to be in those net position where you're currently at, you know, most people at the division one level, it's very, eh, it's got a little prestige to it, right? the higher you go, obviously the bigger that money is you you've talked about in a previous podcast and whatnot, but I think you have to keep the, the main thing, the main thing, as I like to say is you have to really always dial back into who you are as a person. And that same guy that I was in my dorm room at 20 years old. I can't lose that sight. Yeah. That's the reason why I wanted to coach to make a difference that when I'm 50 years old or six years old, like I can't change that. And so if, that changes my perspective, then it that's, the time for me to kind of exit stage left. But, I'm always reminded myself of what it is and, and the reason why I'm here and doing this.

Luke:

talking to you. It's very clear. You're very passionate, motivated guy. I really enjoy talking to you cause you're motivating me. And it's also the culture wall behind you as well as motivating me. And I know you want to be a head coach some days. let's talk about your vision as a head coach, because being such a forward thinker, I'm sure you probably have a book of ideas of how you're going to handle recruiting and how you're going to handle grades and how you're going to develop the whole person. I have no doubt. You have a book somewhere or a notebook somewhere probably next to your bed saying you write down these notes and they pop into your head. So let's fast forward to you as a head coach. How are you going to motivate kids? In the classroom, because I feel like I'm 21 years in. I feel like that's becoming more and more difficult because kids are just so bought into athletics are my ticket and they forget that the degree is going to be with them for the rest of them.

Kevin:

Yeah, no, I think. The degree is we talk about that all the time. I mean, kids that are fortunate enough to be blessed with athletic ability to, get a full scholarship at the collegiate level, you're using this sport, um, as much as it's using you in that regard, You're getting a free education and, and, you know, a lot of the, country's doesn't have that, ability to do that. So, graduation is always, number one thing as a head coach in any program, you know, and I, and I think with all these transfers and the way things go now, you're coming into, play with, the student athlete in a different phase of his life. You know, whether, if it's a freshmen, it's a freshman. Yes. It might be a junior college transfer. It might be a four year transfer. So he might have, you know, 20 classes left in his academic career. He might have five. Right. But it's always. Trying to get to the finish line of whether that's an undergraduate degree or a master's degree or a PhD. What have you, you know, as long as you know, you're still able to participate and contribute, especially this, this COVID thing, these guys at five years. So the kids that were, you know, it was unfortunate to have COVID but now the fortunate part is most of these young men are going to come out with master's degrees. If they play the. Um, so education obviously is first and foremost, but you know, as far as me being a head coach, you know, I think the biggest thing that I've done now in the last year is start to think like a head coach. And I think as an assistant, a lot of times, you know, I'm going to tell you previously, I was trying to be the best assistant and, you know, ultimately. You know, assistant role is different than the head coach role, but you can prepare yourself to be in those shoes if you change the way you think. and so I, I'm starting to think like a head coach in, in my daily objectives and routines and how I approach different things. And so I don't want to be near-sighted, you know, I, I want to have enough foresight to look down the road, like, and I think. Shown in my path and my career that I am very, you know, forward-thinking like you've mentioned. Um, so really it's the flip, the switch of the mindset of, of your leadership, of how you're going to handle certain situations. Um, because as an assistant, it's so easy to make suggestions. You're ultimately not the one to make the final call. And so you can go home at night and not have to deal with. Well, you know, we didn't do that. It w it really didn't fall on your shoulders, people can suggest things to suggest things easily. but I want to have that well thought up enough to where I'm not saying I'm going to be right every time, but anything that I'm bringing to the table. Has backed up information to where there are studies about it, or I've provided this study myself, here's the information that I've found to back up this point of information where it's a lot of times, young assistants might have these ideas and they just kind of throw it at the wall. But there's nothing behind it. And so you start to lose the ear of whoever's in charge because your ideas don't have backing to them. And so I think thinking like a future head coach to where, if somebody was coming at me with this idea, How would I receive it? And so I think anytime you go into a meeting as a staff meeting, you know, high school football, you got, you know, X amount of position coaches, you have your software, you're dealing with, not only, helping your student athletes, that the players themselves. But you're also growing your coaching staff. And so what am I doing also to help the others on our staff? How am I helping grow them and how am I going to challenge my head coach, to help grow him? Cause that's now a role that I'm, trying to step into, but I don't think that you can do that without all the facts and all the information. but as a head coach, You have such an ability or power to your, your, no matter me as an assistant coach, I say it all the time with certain of our players, I call them to my office and have a conversation with them. And I, and I'm telling them, you know, a hundred percent the right thing. And I think it's great, but they go into the head coaches office. And you going to tell him the same thing, guess what? When they walk in. It's it means so much more. And so that, that magnitude of the voice of the head coach in that power in a positive way that you can bring to your program and to the outside, as far as your academic institution, relationships on campus, you know, at the high school level, you know, you're a Catholic school, you have your admissions, right? You have everybody else that's in charge of helping bring in, future shamrocks. To have those relationships with people to be on the same page, because they know that, they can trust you that when their student athlete is on your team, you're gonna make them the best version of themselves. Right. So ultimately, You know, I, I think I would love to be a head coach sooner than later, but I also think it's just like being, becoming a dad, right. You're ready for it, but you're never going to be ready for it until it happens. And I understand that. you have to have empathy enough to be able to do a good job of, of putting yourself in somebody else's shoes. Because I think as a head coach, you know, you also have to have empathy towards your assistants. You have to understand the way they think the way they see things. Right. And so it's all about your feel for people and how can you continually get better at that and grow those relations.

Luke:

You brought up, keep the main thing, the main thing. And that's the player. And you're going to become a head coach. Have you formulated a plan to ensure despite the pressures of being a division one head coach someday, and the fact that you have to win, have you formulate a plan to ensure your players know that you're about them as people first, this is about the development of you as a whole person and having an impact on a life, just like your coach has impacted you as opposed to just searching for when.

Kevin:

You know what, um, I think that, uh, ultimately, or. I want to say the phrase correctly, but a, a rising tide lifts all boats is that there is that the right.

Luke:

Yup.

Kevin:

The right phrase. so with that being said, I listened it's a whole program. Okay. But in, in the whole program, there's individuals in individuals from assistant coaches to support staff to the student athletes themselves. Right. And so if one's doing well and one's being recognized, and that means everybody else is going to benefit from them excelling. So as a head coach or a future head coach, I want to make sure that. Each one of my players is successful in their own. Right. And then in turn their success. Does it, it helps our whole team, right? So I want everybody to dream and to do things that are going to help themselves such as this and I and Al deal, et cetera, et cetera, is something that our level hasn't necessarily come into play as much. Right. But if it can help benefit somebody in my locker room in a positive way, then good for them. I'm going to take the thought of that. If it helps them, it's going to help us. It's not going to deter us. It's not going to break us apart. You know, a rising tide lifts, all boats, right. That's where my perspective is just like, Somebody gets a 4.0 is record that recognized as an academic all conference selection. Well, guess what? That just helped our program. Right? So if somebody, if, if all these guys graduate that helps our team, that helps our program. If so-and-so becomes all conference. Well, guess what? Our team was probably pretty successful because we had a great player. Right. Or, you know, like with winning. Oh, awards and rewards. Um, so that to me is something in, in my, in my perspective that each individual success should be shine, light upon and should be, applauded. And so with individual success comes the whole success, right? So maybe that's. You know, that's kind of where w where I'm at with things, but ultimately as a head coach, you want to try to help each person realize their dreams. Right? And so, like we talked about earlier, there's 13 guys on our roster, five of them start eight of them come off the bench. So more guys are probably unhappy than happy. And then out of those five, Three of them or two of them by score double figures and the other two or three are our roll guys. And they might not even be happy. So it's hard to keep everybody happy, but like once again, keep the main thing, the main thing, if you're progressing as a person and as a. And you're continuing to become the best version of yourself. Then our whole program is going to benefit from that. We're probably going to be winning a whole lot because people with that mindset ultimately find ways to win. You have to eliminate losing before you can start to win. Right? So as long as we eliminate these negative habits, we create positive habits throughout our locker room and our program in the. everybody's going to benefit. And so they're going to become better students and better athletes. So, that's kind of where I stand as far as, you know, everybody has. potential a guy might become an NBA player. Well, somebody else doesn't have the gifts that it's going to take to be an, become an NBA player. Now, as the head coach, I don't want to ever take away your dreams. You know, as long as your dreams meets your work ethic, I can never say anything to you negatively, but I'm also going to always have a truth telling conversation with you to let you know where I stand in your program. Not only our program. But where you stand as a basketball player and how you can improve, right. And then off the court where you stand as a member of our society, a member of this university. So I think telling truth all the time and not having to be, uh, every once in a while to tell the truth, but sometimes I'm going to fabricate things. That's where people come up with false expectations and things don't ultimately work out for you or for them.

Luke:

Love it. I mean, you just describe The "I" in Win the name of the podcast. It's something that I believe in wholeheartedly, we're all in search of finding that best version of ourselves, starting with the. can't expect our players to be at their best if we're not at our best. And we're not on that same journey with them, right. It's not about us just sitting in a chair, pointing to them, saying, Hey, work harder. Don't be lazy. No, it's them watching us struggle to find our best version. That's how they're going to find theirs. And I agree with you that as each player becomes a better person, the whole team is going to benefit from that. Hence the, I N. So I definitely, when you become the head coach of some, major power five and your number one NCAA tournament, I'll be a volunteer. It's fine. But we're like-minded enough that you could, you could have a spot for me, hopefully.

Kevin:

Well, uh, I, I got to check out the schedule, but in the, uh, first things first St. Patch caramel is the, what's the date on that game this year?

Luke:

Well, Hey, listen, I am a forward thinker, but it's later on in the year, we need to, you know, it's, you know, you've played in the conference. It's murderer's row. We got to survive a lot of games before we even get to that. So, um, I'll let you know when that game approaches that's born the, in the thick of her.

Kevin:

is it is the, is the turf still really tough to, to fall on at Hanson? Cause, uh, it's that's uh, I got some great memories over there.

Luke:

Memories and scars. Right. I have some scars myself from playing on that. So, uh, the, the turf is a special color. We no longer play at Hanson stadium, we now play at Triton college. So, we're hoping that we could one day. Get up draw public league team and the state playoffs, they to go back the Hanson that will kind of be like a little homecoming for us shamrocks, but yeah, it's a pretty unique stadium and, uh, the caramel St Pat's rivalry is, is a great one. And, uh, I will definitely be in touch with that, that game approaches for sure.

Kevin:

Oh, I, I need a silent pass for that. Okay. I'll be, I'll be there. I'll be there for that one.

Luke:

you're going to get one, but you're going to have to wear green and gold. I'm

Kevin:

Uh, you know what for you one night, I can trade the color of my, my dad and my mom will be on another side, but it's okay for one night. I'll, I'll be a Shamrock.

Luke:

Well, I really appreciate you coming on it. At least you said you're, you're really busy. You're watching film. I'm sure you have to recruit 24 7, not only high school players, but also transfer portal and even your own players from entering transfer portal. you're a new dad, your husband. but man, I really did love this conversation. I meant when I said you really are a motivating person to talk to, I could just sent your energy even through the computer. So I'm really glad that we've developed a connection via Twitter and via this podcast. And I'm just really excited to, to follow your career. And I wish you nothing, but the. I don't know how often you get to recruit Chicago land area, where you're located, but when you come back, please make sure you hit me up. Especially if you're coming down to Belmont and Austin and check out some of our.

Kevin:

No question why I appreciate everything that you've done and the impact that you're making. And, you know, I like, like you mentioned earlier, I think I've put down more. A hardcover books and your favor of podcasts or books on audio per se. Right? So every morning when I drive into work, you know, on my phone, I have a notification that I, and when podcasts comes up and I'm listening to the next guest and I, and I appreciate the perspective that I've gained from some of your, your guests. And I really, you know, look up. You know, everything that you've done as a head football coach and me being from the area, seeing, like you said, lakes firsthand, what you did at lake Zurich, high school. And now, you know, at St. Patrick's, um, you know, I'm glad that those guys have you in their life. And I think, hopefully this podcast, you know, not only can. helping you grow as a, the best version of yourself, but whoever else is listening to it and then ho helping shape the coaching community, to make sure that they're, you know, providing the next generation with everything they can to be successful.

Luke:

Well, really appreciate your kind words. That means a lot to me. Look forward to seeing the great things that are coming, where you're currently at, and, uh, look forward to having that seat next to you on that bench someday. So thanks so much for joining us on The "I" in Win.

Kevin:

Thank you.

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Kevin Devitt

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