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 Houston Baptist assistant Jud Kinne.
What led you to pursue a career in college basketball coaching?
“I ended up in coaching by accident. I went to college as a Biology/Pre-Med student and thought that was my path. My head coach at Albion College, Mike Turner, saw something in me and gave me an opportunity to stay around the game as a student assistant after an injury forced me to end my college career during my freshman year. Coach Turner and associate head coach Jody May gave me total access to their daily preparations and allowed me to learn so much from them. After one year on the sidelines I was hooked and knew that coaching was the only thing I wanted to do as a career. Eighteen years later, I realize more now than I did then how lucky I was to have ended up in this career.”
What individual skill do you feel is most vital for achieving success in your job?
“I think it is the ability to relate to people. Whether it be on the court with your team, around the campus, or out on the road in a recruiting situation, you have to be able to relate to people. My father could go into any situation and make every person feel like the most important person he spoke to that day. I didn’t realize it when I was young, but now I see how much it mattered - not only to him to be able to connect with people, but to the people he spoke with.”
How have mentor relationships impacted your career?
“The relationships with the people that I have been fortunate enough to call my mentors have immensely impacted my career in more ways than I could ever put into words. It started in college with Coach Turner and Coach May, and carried on to coaches I met or worked for throughout my career. Along with my college coaches, there has been no coach who impacted me in more ways that Rob Evans, who I was fortunate enough to spend a year with at Arizona State. He showed me how to handle so many situations, good and bad, and how being true to yourself and who you are is so important. In the 10 years since then he has continued to be someone I can lean on and go to for guidance, whether things are going well or not. Chuck Schnoor, who I worked for at Central Arizona, demonstrated the importance of balance and finding things outside of the game that you can enjoy to keep you level and give perspective. Finally, my current head coach at HBU, Ron Cottrell, who has shown in 26 years at HBU that you don’t always have to be looking for the next job, but can truly make the job you have the best one for you.”
What challenges have you faced in your career, and what have you learned from them?
“Like all coaches, and people in any profession really, there are a lot of different challenges that I have faced throughout my career. The biggest challenge for me is coming from a small college program and having to prove myself on every level. I have coached at the NJCAA, NAIA, NCAA DIII and NCAAI levels in my career. Each time I have made a move, I have had to show I deserved that chance. I have never minded working hard and earning what I got, and this career can make you do that. By really working my way through this profession and paying my dues along the way, I feel like I am much stronger as a person and a coach than if I had things handed to me early on.”
How do you balance the rigors of coaching with maintaining a personal life?
“You may have to ask my wife and daughter how well I am doing at that. It is not easy at all, as the nature of being a coach forces you to be busy for a lot of the holidays and many family events. It is an all day, every day job, as you are always responsible for the members of your team, even if it is not what most people would think of as in-season. I am very fortunate to have someone by my side who supports me fully and understands what this career entails. As I have matured as a man and coach, I have learned that I have to set time aside for my family. It doesn’t just happen by accident. I’ve also been fortunate to mostly work for men who have made family a priority, and that has allowed me to see it can be done successfully.”
What career goals do you have for your future, and how do you plan to achieve them?
“My ultimate career goal is to be a championship-winning head coach at the college level. Being a coach has been so rewarding for me, especially now that I have been doing it long enough to see former players grow up, start down their career paths and become family men of their own. I feel like if I can continue to improve myself as a coach each year, I will get to that goal sooner than later. I try to learn from people who can teach me things, see what works and what doesn’t for me, and build the relationships with good people that I can learn from as I move forward. I know my work ethic will give me opportunities as I grow. I just have to make sure that I am ready when the opportunity presents itself. I have been so fortunate to be around many good people that have pushed me. I want to continue to work hard so I don’t waste what they gave me along the way.”
What’s the one piece of advice you would give to somebody considering a career in coaching?
“Don’t let your ego get in the way. You must be confident in who you are and what you bring to the table, but don’t be cocky and feel like certain things are beneath you. Especially as you start out, you have to be willing to do any task to earn your way. It can stop you from working hard and doing all the little things that you need to do in order to be successful. This career can be a very humbling experience at times, and it has no problem knocking you down a peg or three if you aren’t careful. Most importantly, having an ego can stop you from saying thank you or being thankful for all the people who have helped you along the way. No one gets to the top of any profession without help, especially coaching. Don’t allow an ego to get in the way of realizing that.”