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 Williams College assistant Justin Bradley.
Why did you decide to become a coach?
“I’ve always had a passion for learning about developing culture and leadership and read many books about how various people choose to lead in their respective roles. An injury disrupted a very promising college career that forced me to consider life after basketball. Majoring in political science and economics in college, I thought I was destined for a career in finance or law. Thankfully my college coach wanted me to stay around the program after my playing days were over, and afforded me an opportunity to be a student assistant. He threw me into the fire and allowed me to be fully immersed in the life of a college coach. After a few practices, I knew that coaching was the career path that I would dedicate my life to.”
How would you describe your coaching and leadership style?
“My coaching and leadership style is based on accountability and trust. I am firm believer that holding people accountable is essential in any successful program. Everyone from the top down must be held accountable for their performance and work. Once this happens, trust is built and now you are prepared to work in a healthy work environment.”
Aside from knowledge of the game, what skill do you feel is most important for coaches to possess?
“I think it is extremely important for coaches to strive to be versatile. All areas of coaching are extremely important, and if you can bring value in all of them, you have a chance to have great opportunities and ascend as a coach. Versatility comes with being a lifelong learner.”
What’s one thing about the profession that you wish you would’ve known at the start of your career?
“Title doesn’t matter! Get with a staff that you believe in and trust. Be around people that care about your development and will help you reach your goals. Be thankful everyday! I have been fortunate to work for LeVelle Moton, Paul Cormier and Kevin App, and all of these men and their assistants have tremendously helped my growth.”
What kind of impact – both on the court and off – do you hope to have on your student-athletes?
“I hope that on graduation day and beyond that student-athletes look back and remember me as someone that challenged, motivated and inspired them to achieve all of their goals. At every successful and sustainable program there are coaches that have tremendous relationships with the players. I hope that this everyone to work in a productive and growth environment.”
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
“The most rewarding part of my job is developing relationships with the players and helping them reach their academic, social and athletic goals. My last two coaching stops have been at two world-class institutions, and the student-athletes are very high achieving in many aspects of their lives. Playing a small role in the development of men is something that I am passionate about, and coaching allows you to be a part of their journey.”
What’s the one piece of advice you would give a first-year coach?
“The one piece of advice that I would give to a first-year coach is to not be afraid to assess yourself and be your toughest critic. It is important to have a plan and direction of what you ultimately want to accomplish in your career. Assess your strengths and weaknesses, and make sure that you are constantly developing and keeping up with trends. There are so many aspects to being a great coach - recruiting, scouting, player development - and you must constantly consider if you are bringing value to your program in these areas.”