Primesport NABC Next Generation is an interview series with assistant coaches and support staff from across the country, highlighting their career experiences and future goals. Today's feature is Georgia State assistant Claude Pardue.
Why did you decide to become a coach?
“I grew up in North Carolina on Tobacco Road in the 1990s while UNC and Duke were the best programs in college basketball and Jimmy V had just finished his run at NC State. Falling in love with the sport at that time was easy. As I grew up I started to think about what I would do when my playing career came to an end. Coaching was the obvious choice. I loved the game along with the camaraderie that comes along with being a part of a team, and never could imagine myself doing anything else.”
How would you describe your coaching and leadership style?
“Leading a group of young men and coaching them is different today than it has been in the past. I always try to remember my own playing career to try and understand the mentality of the player. As a coach, the relationship with the players is incredibly important. You have to truly understand who they are as people and find ways to reach them. The joy of coaching comes when you have a close bond with your players and can push them to reach their goals.”
Aside from knowledge of the game, what skill do you feel is most important for coaches to possess?
“The ability to manage people. When I first got into the business, I was told that managing people was more important than any other aspect. I have seen this proven time and time again.”
How do you handle setbacks in your career? And what have you learned from them?
“Each and every failure is an opportunity to learn and to grow. There will be losses, and setbacks are inevitable. As a coach, you tell the players that they must learn from mistakes. We have to do the same as coaches. Most of the time you learn ways not to do something before you learn the correct way to do certain things. Short-term failure is vital to long-term success.”
What kind of impact – both on the court and off – do you hope to have on your student-athletes?
“Our mission when a student-athlete gets to campus is to help them grow athletically, physically, mentally, and spiritually during their time at Georgia State. There is nothing more gratifying than our players graduating and chasing their dreams once their time at Georgia State is complete. Most of them arrive at college with no clue what they are passionate about and how they can navigate a career path. We have had graduates from Georgia State become extremely successful when they leave. Our graduates have gone on to become high school basketball coaches, we have had an NBA draft pick, we have administrators in athletics, we have had aspiring politicians, and countless businessmen. These young men represent our program and make us proud to have a small hand in their development. “
If you were told to craft a mission statement for your team, what would it say?
“To empower every person within the organization, player and staff, to achieve more. We don’t have this written on any posters or memorized and branded, but this is how we operate as a program. Being part of Coach Hunter’s staff for seven years, we have taken his lead to empower those we work with and the players on the team. Coach Hunter has a way of empowering his staff and players to take ownership of the program and have success. We are all a product of the environment he has created, and we try to uphold this mission daily.”
What’s the one piece of advice you would give a first-year coach?
“Completely drop any ego you may have and embrace all the little things that nobody else wants to do. If you can create value for yourself within a staff by handling all the things that the head coach or assistants don’t have time to handle, then you become very important for the staff. They will trust you with more if you show you can handle the little things. Have the mentality that there is no task too small for me to complete.”