This fall, FastModel Sports is excited to feature a Support Staff Series of Q&A interviews to show a little love to those coaches who aren’t in the spotlight and don’t sit in the first row of the bench on game day. These are the staff members that work behind the scenes making sure every single aspect of the program runs smoothly, so that the coaches and players can focus on winning games. We also hope this serves to educate those interested in pursuing a career in coaching on the possibilities available in the business.
FastModel Sports: Tell us a little bit about your coaching background.
James Schmeits: I’m still relatively new to college coaching. My coaching career began when I helped with Supreme Court Basketball club in Lincoln, Nebraska. Then I was lucky to get hired as a Graduate Manager for Wichita State, where we made the Final Four in 2013 and began the next season 35-0. My primary duties included video work at WSU, then was able to go with an assistant coach that took the head coaching job at Bowling Green State to be his Video Coordinator for a season. Now I’m excited to be in my third year as the Director of Basketball Operations at Indiana State.
FMS: Explain what being a Director of Basketball Operations is all about.
JS: The DOBO job is all about paying attention to the details. Nothing is too small, because if you overlook something that goes wrong, that’s on you and only you. The most important thing is to think one step ahead and solve potential problems before they happen. Case in point, my first trip we were busing to Evansville, Indiana. When we got there I saw the turn to the hotel and went back to what I was doing. You know who didn’t see it? The bus driver, who turned at the next turn…which happened to be a dead end residential section. We ended up having to back our way out, taking at least 15 minutes. Let’s just say the coaches and players were not pleased. If I would’ve said something to the bus driver and communicated earlier about directions, that never would have happened. I repeat: no detail is too small.
FMS: What are the most important things you’ve learned while climbing the coaching ladder.
JS: Be humble, respectful, and work your tail off. You never know who is watching, so always make sure to leave a good impression on them.
FMS: How has your mindset changed as you have moved up in your career?
JS: I’ve become more appreciative of everything I have. Early on in my career, I took a lot of it for granted. Having now spent a few years in the coaching business, I’ve learned it can all change very quickly. You have to learn to deal with the ups and the downs. So if you’re fortunate to be in a good spot, enjoy it, but be appreciative of everything you have.
FMS: Looking back now, what do you wish you knew when you started your coaching career?
JS: Luckily for myself, I was a bit older when I got into the business, so most of my young and dumb tendencies were long gone. One thing I still wish I did a better job of is listening. You can learn something from anyone, regardless of how old they are, or how many years they have been in the business.
FMS: What advice do you have for young coaches wanting to advance their careers?
JS: This question goes back to what I’ve learned while climbing the coaching ladder. Be humble, respectful, and work your tail off. Everyday is a job audition, whether you know it or not.
FMS: How has technology helped you advance your career, and what role does it play in being a DOBO?
JS: Having an understanding of basketball technology and how programs like FastScout and FastDraw work has sped up my career path in this industry. Technology is the fastest way into the coaching industry. I grew up using computers and software, and I took that knowledge for granted. What I didn’t realize is not everyone in basketball has the extensive technological knownledge base I do. I put that skillset to good use once I got into the business by mastering programs by FastModel and others. This was a huge advantage for me, and will continue to be a valuable asset that helps me grow and ascend the coaching ladder.
FMS: Describe the importance of networking with other coaches.
JS: Without networking you will never make it in this business or move up the coaching ladder. My advice is to network with as many people as you can in similar situations or who have recently just moved up. Texts, emails, handwritten notes – it doesn’t need to be much, but congratulating coaches on new jobs, after wins, or uplifting words after a tough loss are great ways to develop relationships. These coaches are the people you will learn and grow with throughout your time in the business. Nuture these relationships now and they will pay dividends in the future. The only reason this article even exists is because I met [FastModel Sports Content Manager] Robbie Lehman in Cancun back in 2012, when our Iowa and Wichita State teams played in the same tournament. Five years later, we have stayed close, helping each other navigate our careers. (Editor’s note: True story!)
FMS: What are your future goals in coaching?
JS: My future goals are the same as many coaches in the profession, to become a Head Coach someday. Obviously, in order to do that, first I need to develop into an assistant coach, continuing to work and learn the nuances of that role to prepare myself for when a head coaching opportunity when it arrives.
FMS: What is your favorite coaching memory so far in your career?
JS: Being a small part of Wichita State’s Final Four run in 2012-13 will always be one of the highlights of my career. To be involved in something so special that early in my career has never been and will never be lost on me. One thing I will never forget is the feeling I got when our intro video was played in front of thousands of fans inside the Georgia Dome. I’ve never had goosebumps like that in my life and it is a moment I will hold on to forever.
You can follow James on Twitter @schmeits06.
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