Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The life of a new head coach

"Seeking success of his own creation: A day in the life of new Washington coach Mike Hopkins" -- Greg Bishop

"Before sunrise, Mike Hopkins slams his first Starbucks of the morning, ignores the 2,103 unread messages on his cell phone and faces his new life as Washington’s head basketball coach the only way he knows how—with two black eyes.

Uncertainty follows Hopkins around like a pet Husky, his new mascot. It’s the backdrop to all his interactions, the reason for his packed schedule, what propelled him to leave behind a life of success and stability for the chance to succeed and stabilize a program he built himself. 

For the last 22 seasons, Hopkins courted players to Syracuse and then coached them as a faithful assistant to Jim Boeheim. Together, they won hundreds of games, made NCAA tournament appearances routine, faced an academic scandal, produced dozens of NBA players and hoisted a championship trophy in 2003. Hopkins did the same things, year after year, in the same place, year after year, knowing that when Boeheim retired he would inherit a hoops kingdom.

What happened in March, then, surprised even the man with two black eyes. Here came another school wondering if he wanted to be their basketball coach, and the gig, the timing and his own desire all aligned in ways they had not previously. Hopkins then upended his life, career and family in roughly 72 hours. He moved 3,000 miles across the country, swapped orange T-shirts for purple pullovers, traded a winning tradition for an uneven one and ascended from lifetime assistant to first-time head coach.

Fears faced, comfort abandoned, Hopkins decided to attack the uncertainty head on, with meetings (dozens) and phone calls (hundreds) and the messages he actually returned. His days start early. They end late. What follows is an account of one of those (very long) days..."

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