Coach Sallie Guillory is the associate head coach at the University of Louisiana. Guillory is from the area and has accumulated ten years of coaching experience including stints at Teurlings Catholic High School as an assistant and head coach, McNeese State, the Acadiana Stars AAU program, and now at UL. I chose to reach out to Coach Guillory because of the newsletter that she puts out on a regular basis. Additionally, she does a significant amount of recruiting, so I was hoping I could pick up some tips from her. Coach Guillory was awesome in agreeing to help me and answer my questions. It is my hope that her answers will help other coaches, as they have helped me. Emphases are mine.
1. What is the best piece (or pieces) of advice you would give to a young coach?
Work Hard! Wherever you coach whether it’s junior high, high school, or college there is always something that you can do to help the program. Whether it means getting to practice a little early to sweep the floor or helping a player study for a test. You can’t ever think that any job is below you. When your players see you practicing servant leadership they will have no other choice but to follow your lead. Also, get involved in every aspect of the program whether it’s recruiting, academics, scheduling, scouting, etc. Have a hand in everything and become an expert in as much as you can so you will become a valuable asset to the program.
2. What do you believe is the most important attribute for a young coach to possess?
#1 thing a young coach must have is work ethic. You have to be willing to do anything and everything. You have to have a tenacity in everything you do. Always be prepared. Always be prepared and organized. Recognize things that need to be done before your head coach realizes they need to be done and have them done! Be the hardest working coach on your staff, in your conference, etc. Be the first one to the office every morning. Be the last one to leave the gym when recruiting. Make that one extra recruiting call or write that one more letter. Those are all things that you can control and your work ethic will not go unnoticed which will help you move up in your career.
3. What do you do to ensure that you continue to grow professionally?
READ, READ, and READ some more. To me the internet is the greatest thing in the world. There is so much valuable information out there from blogs, to newsletters, to entire websites devoted to basketball, etc. There’s a quote that says “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” Get on Twitter and follow leadership professionals, follow coaches, follow preachers, follow anyone who is smarter than you (which for me is real easy!). I also try and attend clinics when I can. I also love to talk to coaches while I’m on the road recruiting. I will pick their brain about everything from how they run practice, to how they handle academics, how many times a month they have recruiting meetings, etc. I love to talk to coaches at our school and pick their brains as well. There are so many great coaches and leaders and most are willing to help share their knowledge which is why they’re where they are. Never be afraid to ask for help!
4. What is the one skill you wish you had been able to master earlier?
I wish I would have learned to appreciate my players more earlier in my career. This is my 12th year coaching. I coached high school for my first 7 years and I treated my players as objects that could help me get wins instead of people. We are so blessed to be able to impact young people’s lives everyday and impact the future generation. We have a choice: are we going to speak LIFE into them each day or beat them down and use them to help us get wins and further our career? Over the last 4-5 years as I have learned to develop relationships with my players and help them grow into Godly women that they are called to be, I have enjoyed coaching so much more and feel like I am making an impact everyday.
5. What is your favorite book? Or favorites, because I wouldn’t be able to pick just one.
My favorite book ever is The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Every coach should read that; it will change your outlook not only on your coaching career but your personal life as well. Leading With The Heart by Coach K and Reach for the Summit by Pat Summit were 2 of the very first coaching books I ever read and played a big part in me not only getting into coaching but my philosophies as a young coach. How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie probably had the biggest effect on me as I got into college coaching. It really talks about treating people the right way and in the long run you will win because of it. There are soooo many books that I have enjoyed. The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon, Your Best Life Now by Joel Osteen, For One More Day by Mitch Albom. I’m currently reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg who is the CEO of Facebook and it is awesome. Every woman leader should read it regardless of their profession.
6. What motivated to you to get in to coaching?
When I was 18 years old and first started coaching, I got into it because I missed the competitiveness of playing basketball and I missed being part of a team. But once I started coaching I really thought it was so cool to see players improve throughout the course of a season and the impact that a coach can have.
7. How do you evaluate recruits? What are the key characteristics you look for on and off the court?
The most important thing that we look for is whether or not a player plays hard. If they don’t play hard and have a good attitude in their dealings with their teammates and coaches, we won’t recruit them. That’s the bottom line. We also look for competitiveness. The way summer basketball is set up now, players may play 40-50 games in a summer so sometimes winning and losing becomes irrelevant to some players because they know they get to play another 2-3 games the next day. We are looking for players who care about winning and losing. It is also important to us how they behave in an educational environment. Is getting a degree important to them or is it something they will just do to be able to play college basketball? I’ve never coached a great player who wasn’t also a great student. After all of that, obviously, we look at their athleticism and can they put the ball in the goal. If somebody is athletic, can score, and plays hard,we can teach them how to defend.
8. What are your primary responsibilities?
I am the Associate Head Coach here at UL so I am involved in every aspect of our program. I also serve as the Recruiting Coordinator so I am heavily involved in recruiting. I also am over academics which is very important to me. As a former teacher, I really enjoy that part of my job. I help Coach Brodhead, our head coach, with getting out in the community and raising money for our program and speaking to groups about our program. I am the guard coach as well and I am involved along with all of our other assistants in developing scouting reports during the season. Like I said earlier I want to be involved in every aspect of our program. No job is too big or small for any of us.
9. What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is to see a young 18 year old freshman come to college with no clue how the world works and to see them develop every single day and leave here a grown woman who is ready to make a difference in the world. I love to see our players successful whether it is in school, on the court, or in the community. One of my favorite things is when a player will call me to tell me they made an A on a test or that they did something to help someone else. As I get older and have more and more former players who are getting married and having kids, it is so cool to me that they invite me to a be a part of that and share that experience with them.
10. What is one part of your job that you could do without?
One thing that I don’t enjoy is having to go recruiting during the season. I don’t think it is fair to our student-athletes that our coaches have to sometimes miss practice and games to go and recruit players. All of that time away takes away from time we could be working with them here or watching film to put them in a better position or helping with academic issues, etc.
11. How beneficial is it to coach in an area with which you are so familiar? Do you think that it is a significant advantage to be in a familiar area with your contacts when it comes to recruiting? If you weren’t from the area, what steps would you take to ensure that you could be a successful recruiter?
I think it is a huge benefit to coach in an area with which I am familiar. I coached high school in this town for 7 years so I made a ton of contacts with high school and AAU coaches and they trust me because they know I was in their same position not to long ago. They can trust me with their players. It also helps in fundraising, as well as helping to get people to come to our games. Our head coach and I are both from here so that is a tremendous help. I think if I wasn’t from here it would be extremely important to get out and meet as many people as possible, not just coaches but people in the community who support UL. Even though I am from here and know a lot of people in our recruiting region we still have to continue to get out and renew those relationships and develop new ones.
Thanks to Coach Guillory for being so quick and willing to help me out. I hope that other coaches benefit from this series, because it is fun for me to participate in. Being on the autism spectrum, I feel like connecting with other coaches via email and internet is a great way to begin to network and meet people. It keeps me in my comfort zone for now while allowing me to practice and be ready for when I meet people in “3D”.
Unrelated to the interview, our team wrapped up the regular season conference championship with a win at Oshkosh last night. It was a great environment, and I think our team really enjoyed it. I am enjoying the fact that we have a bye on Wednesday and can have a little extra time to regroup before senior night and postseason play.