Kelly Sheffield believes in where he is right now. He believes that he can win at the University of Wisconsin and he believes he can convince talented volleyball players to join him there. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Well, who wouldn’t believe in a Big Ten school?” True enough, but his move to Wisconsin and the elite levels of volleyball wasn’t, in my opinion, a no-brainer. He was very successful at his previous institution and that success showed no signs of waning.
So I asked him about it. What advice would he give to coaches who think they’re ready to take that next step? How did he know the time was right to leave the comfort of his successful situation for the unknown of Wisconsin?
Before Sheffield answered, he was sure to give me a parenthetical note: If you’re a new coach and just trying to break into the coaching ranks…take any job. Just start coaching, you haven’t earned the right to be picky.
Are you ready to take another job?
- Be honest with yourself. Coaches have to be honest about what will make them happy and not just do what they’re supposed to do. The move has to be good for you, your family, and your career.
- Do you believe in your potential new location? Will your boss advocate for you? Will the institution fund success or mediocrity? Can you see success in your mind’s eye or do you view the job as a stepping stone?
- What goals does the administration have for the program? If you sit down in your interview and lay out how you can bring a conference/national championship to the institution and then the folks interviewing you say they just want a team above .500, you have different goals. With a major difference in objectives, you will be destined to figuratively bang your head against a wall.
- How will your working relationship with your direct boss play out? They are the folks who will advocate for you and your program. There’s a finite amount of money within athletic departments and your boss has to be on your side when it comes to program needs.
Good luck to those of you thinking of making a location, or maybe even career, change. Hopefully, these words of wisdom can help clarify your decision.
Check out the Sheffield series:
Coaches Corner: Kelly Sheffield
Coaches Corner: Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
Coaches Corner: What Does Enthusiasm Look Like?
Coaches Corner: The Roles Of Player And Coach
Join me in a series of interviews with successful coaches. I believe what we learn from our coaching peers can be applied to our teams, our recruiting efforts, and how we behave as professionals. These interviews will be less Q & A and much more philosophical in nature, keep coming back to see who I’m talking to and what they’ve got to say!