The moment you first realized that you might like to make coaching part of your career.
Everyone knew before I did that coaching would be in my future. I went to career services as a freshman at Connecticut College and told my advisor that I wanted to go into business – not knowing much at all about what that meant. I had spent time throughout high school giving private lessons and working camps and proceeded to tell my advisor all of the reasons I thought business would be a good fit. It all circled back to how much I liked coaching and how similar I thought business could be to that. It wasn’t long before my advisor, Cheryl Banker, told me, “Kaitlyn, you’ve been in here talking for fifteen minutes about how business is the closest thing to coaching. You get excited when you talk about coaching. Why not just go for that?” I think prior to my advisor giving me that “permission slip” of sorts, I never really thought it was a feasible career choice (and I couldn’t be more thankful that she did!)
Outside of mentors, talk about one way you’ve learned some aspect of coaching.
Reading. I love to mix up what I’m reading by choosing coaching books across different sports or business books. I’m someone who underlines and scribbles notes right on the pages. When I’m done I really try to: 1) Apply what I’ve read in some way or another and 2) Find out other coaches’ perspectives on things that I just read. I really enjoy learning new perspectives and challenging my coaching philosophies.
What is your favorite memory from a coaching conference or clinic?
At the “A Step Up” Symposium in Atlanta, 2017, I was able to listen to Amie Smith Bradley of SMU speak. Her presentation, titled “Life Happens. Handle Change with Confidence” really stuck with me. She emphasized the importance of being confident in “telling your story” not only to others, but to yourself. Each of us has a unique path and the way that Coach Bradley embraced hers while presenting was inspiring. Another thing she mentioned was the idea of leaving maps, not simply having routines. Creating a map of how you do things, for others to later follow, will pay dividends as it helps others do their job well while giving you the time and energy on focus on other tasks.
Best career or work advice you ever received.
“Don’t mess with happy.” I was a senior in college when Shimmy Gray-Miller said this during her presentation at the WBCA’s “So You Want to Be a Coach” programming. This advice can apply to so much in this business, but for me, in the early stages of my coaching career, it’s just an affirmation that I’m in the right profession. A lot of people will question why coaches choose this path, this lifestyle, these sometimes-crazy hours. At the end of the day, I feel that I’m making a positive impact on others through this career, I’ve met a lot of genuine and empowering coaches, and I’m so happy to be a coach.
Your dream lunch date. One coach. Any sport. Any level. Who is it?
Becky Hammon. If I could choose two, I’d say Gregg Popovich and Becky Hammon as I’ve always admired what he has done with the Spurs. I admire Coach Hammon’s courage and confidence to pursue her coaching passions within the NBA, a level in which many women have seen as off limits in the past. She’s mentioned before how the Spurs is a “teaching program” and I’d love to hear more about her experience contributing to and developing within a system like that.