Next up in the new interview series is Khadija J. Head, the lead coordinator for The Recruiting U. Coach Head started this company after her coaching experience demonstrated a specific need in the coaching community- a program’s recruiting voice over the course of the season. Coach Head had career stops as a recruiting coordinator and assistant coach at the University of Pittsburgh and Middle Tennessee State University in addition to a stint as an assistant coach/director of basketball ops at the University of Arkansas. She was an intern for the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s High School All-America Game and was the graduate assistant coach for women’s basketball at Slippery Rock University. Now, as the lead coordinator for The Recruiting U, Coach Head distributes recruiting information for Georgia High School games, Pennsylvania High School games, and Junior College games in Regions 5, 8, and 14. Coach Head is responsible for disseminating game schedules and locations and top ranked teams and prospects game day information to anyone who could use that information, whether it is newspaper outlets, parents, basketball fans, scouting services, or college coaches.
I first found Coach Head on Twitter (@HeadCoachHead). After spending some time on her website, specifically looking at her Head Coach Head Wisdom, I knew she was someone from whom I wanted to learn more. I am thankful to Coach Head for agreeing to complete my interview questions. Here they are (again, emphases are mine):
What is the best piece (or pieces) of advice you would give to a young coach?
- Focus on your current job and current position. The hard work and dedication you put into your current situation will determine your future success.
- Learn the language of your Head Coach. Make yourself familiar with his/her coaching terminology…the players will notice if you don’t.
What do you believe is the most important attribute for a young coach to possess?
- The ability to listen with respect and restraint
What do you do to ensure that you continue to grow professionally?
- I read a ton of books. Some of the best knowledge in the world is hidden inside of books. Reading exposes me to new ideas, new thoughts, and new opinions.
- Get involved in your coaches associations. Throughout my career I have spoken at national conventions, attended professional development symposiums, and volunteered for selection committees
As a graduate assistant, I am thankful that I get to try my hand at everything. What is the one skill you wish you had been able to master earlier?
- I wish I had developed my knowledge of post play earlier in my career. During my time at Pitt I worked with some of the best position coaches and was able to balance my knowledge for both positions. My desire to attain this needed knowledge has made me a better overall coach.
What is your favorite book? Or favorites, because I wouldn’t be able to just pick one.
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
- How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gates Gill
- The Travelers’ Gift by Andy Andrews
- The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
- In These Girls Hope is a Muscle by Madeleine Blais
What motivated you to start your own recruiting service? What need are you trying to fill and what is your target audience?
- As a recruiting coordinator it is important to orchestrate the recruiting voice of the program and this task can be time consuming once you enter season play…hence the creation of The Recruiting U.
- The Recruiting U strives to deliver game day specific content that allows our members to increase their recruiting productivity while maximizing their NCAA allotment of recruiting-person days.
- Our service provides:
- An effective method for college coaches to monitor their target recruits.
- Creates staff cohesion surrounding the program’s recruiting voice.
- Organizes the program’s in season recruiting goals into a unified agenda.
As a recruiting coordinator, whether at an institution or at your own company, what are the must-haves you look for in prospective student-athletes?
- As a college assistant coach you must have a clear understanding of the qualities that the Head Coach values before you recruit prospects.
- The things that I personally admire are:
- Defensive intelligence—does the prospect understand basic defensive concepts?
- Mental stability—how does the prospect react when things are not going well on the court?
- Offensive activity—can the prospect play without the ball?
What is the biggest mistake that coaches make throughout the recruiting process and how can we fix it?
- Player evaluation—it is easy to identify the top 20 prospects in the nation. The real task is identifying the top 20 prospects that are best for your program, your style of play, and your coaching beliefs. Assistant coaches have a responsibility to recruit talent that will thrive under their Head Coach’s style of play and balance pure talent with fundamental role players.
What is one thing that PSA’s need to better understand when it comes to the recruiting process?
- Their social media voice/activity can positively or negatively affect their position on a program’s recruiting board.
- Don’t be afraid to ask basketball questions:
- What are my strengths?
- How will you help me develop my weaknesses?
What advice would you give to someone who wants/needs to become a better recruiter? (That’s me.)
- Focus on the goals of the program and your Head Coach.
- Sell the vision of your Head Coach to everyone in the recruit’s inner circle, members of the community, the program’s fan base, and members of the institutionCommunicate clearly with everyone involved in the recruiting process: coaching staff, the support staff, recruits, members of recruit’s inner circle, and summer/high school/junior college coaches.
- Maintain your integrity throughout the recruiting process and be yourself.
- Give yourself a monthly job evaluation. Set aside 15 minutes and examine the past month: have you gone off track, should you rethink your recruiting strategies, what has been the biggest return on your investment?
Thank you Coach Head for your advice! I know that much of it was helpful to me, so I am sure it will be applicable to lots of other coaches and professionals.