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.
Tyler Schaul: I helped coach some youth teams during high school, but when I got to college, I became a student manager for Coach Hoiberg and the Iowa State Men’s Basketball program. Over those 4 years of working for the team, I knew that coaching was something I wanted to pursue. I was very lucky to get to work with some great people and coaches during that time on both Coach Hoiberg’s and Coach Prohm’s staffs, which included my current boss, Coach Doc Sadler. They all helped me get where I’m at today.
FMS: Explain what being a Graduate Assistant is all about.
TS: A little bit of everything! You’re the young guy on staff that has the unique combination of being allowed to be on the floor during practices and help with all of the support tasks as well. I think the job description is essentially doing whatever it takes to help everyone on the staff and make sure things run smoothly. The role can be a variety of things, but really it’s whatever your head coach wants you doing. I’m lucky – Coach Sadler lets me be involved in almost all phases of the program, whether it be video, operations, scouting, player development, recruiting, etc. I think that is really beneficial to a young coach in this profession.
FMS: Why did you want to be a GA as the next step in your career?
TS: I wanted to be a GA because it is the next logical step in a coaching career path and allows the opportunity to be on a Division 1 basketball staff while also working on your masters degree. The masters degree can open so many doors for potential opportunities down the road, and then getting a chance to work with Coach Sadler again was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
FMS: What do you like best about your job?
TS: The daily interactions with all of the players and staff. You spend so much time around each other throughout the course of the year that you become like brothers. You’ll have disagreements from time to time, but everyone in the building is working towards the same goal, and that kind of camaraderie is cool. It’s also exciting just seeing our players grow and develop every single day. A team is a collection of people from a lot of different backgrounds, all with different stories, that have to come together in order to succeed. That’s a really cool thing to see when it happens.
FMS: What are the most important things being a GA has taught you?
TS: That no task or detail is too small and that how you do anything is how you do everything. Between being a manager and now a GA, there are lots of unglamorous jobs you’re asked to perform, but they all have a significant meaning in making the program function on a daily basis. The small things matter, and if you do them the right way, I think that there is a direct translation in how you do the big things.
FMS: How has your mindset changed from when you first started coaching?
TS: I think that I have just learned to appreciate the profession and the people in it more and more every day. It takes an incredible commitment of time and effort and long hours to get programs rolling. The behind the scenes work and the hours of practice, watching film, bouncing ideas off of other coaches, etc. is incredible – I don’t think most people outside of the profession truly understand the amount of work and time coaches put in. Just really realizing the hard work it takes to become successful in this business.
FMS: Is it difficult to manage graduate school work along with the rigors of your coaching duties?
TS: There are times when it gets a bit hectic, but just like anything else, it’s about time management and how bad you want to do something. I knew what I signed up for, and it’s not always going to be easy, but I think that’s where you find out who really wants to do something. If you don’t want to do it, you’ll find an excuse; if you want to do something, you’ll find a way.
FMS: What advice do you have those considering the GA path?
TS: Just be ready to come in with an open mind and be willing to do anything to help the program. Some days will be long, and while some tasks you may find insignificant in the moment, you’ll eventually come to find value in. Stay true to who you are, but always be open to learning and getting better. Develop trust and good relationships with the staff, as those could be the people that give you your next job!
FMS: What role does technology play in a GA’s daily workflow?
TS: Technology is HUGE in my job, with FastModel products definitely playing a major part of what we do. From creating professional scouting reports and clean play diagrams and playbooks for our staff and players, FastModel makes everything we do so much easier and better! The software really allows you to teach your team, which hopefully leads to winning more games. The strides that the game has made with advanced technology and analytics in recent years have been incredible, and learning how to properly use them is a huge plus for any young person trying to make their way up in this business.
FMS: Describe the importance of networking with coaches and other managers.
TS: It is so huge in this business, but I think that it must be done the right way. The basketball coaching world is a small one and is a very tight-knit group. I think that working to build relationships with as many people in the business is important, and can be a huge asset in the future. I still talk to people that I met from opposing teams my freshman year of college, and they’ve become friends to me. Ultimately, your connections will be what gets you jobs, but I think you must be genuine and sincere in building relationships. Be yourself – don’t try to be someone you’re not. Don’t just talk to people when you need something, congratulate them with they have success, talk to them when they’re not, help them before you ask for help. I think just being a good person and having the right intentions is key in building connections in this business.
FMS: What are your future goals in coaching?
TS: At this point, it would be to take the next step after this season and move into a support staff role at the division 1 level, or an assistant at a lower level, potentially. Ultimately, my goal is to be a head coach some day.
FMS: What is your favorite coaching memory so far in your career?
TS: I’d have to say our trip to the Bahamas earlier this summer was the highlight in my young career. Seeing our team really come together and bond off of the court in a foreign country was really great. I’m a believer that off-court cohesiveness translates to on-court success, so I see a huge benefit in foreign tours. It was also great to experience a new culture.