Karen Blair: VCU Assistant Coach/Recruiting Coordinator

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Player Development • Organization • Building Relationships

Before joining VCU this season, the 16-year Division I veteran spent time coaching at North Texas, UT Arlington, Colgate, and SMU. In addition to recruiting, she has been primarily responsible for the development of perimeter players.


Beginning of her Coaching Path:

Graduating with a Business degree from SMU, she segued into an internship at PepsiCo. Not long after, the Head Coach at SMU, her alma mater, asked if she wanted to get into coaching. She had not always imagined a coaching career, but took the opportunity when it arose. She has since remained in coaching and is entering her 17th season.

Networking Habits:

My Who Wednesday: Coach Blair specifically schedules out her Wednesdays to send out handwritten notes, texts and phone calls. Too stay organized, she has a list of people that regularly keep in touch with.

“You get a job on references. Coaching is a high-trust culture.”

Organizational System for Note:

  • Keep the hard copies and then try to type them up to have a digital copy
  • Always look for a way to add value to others: by summarizing a book or article, even if someone doesn’t have time to read the whole book, they can learn from your notes.

Building Relationships with Players:

Coach Blair indicated that she prefers the face to face, one on one conversations when it comes to meeting with players. Today, communicating through technology (i.e. texts, Twitter, email) is still useful, but in person you’re able to read body language and reactions. When getting to know players and developing relationships, it’s important to have a variety of scheduled and impromptu meetings. Just by arriving to team events early or sticking around after can create these opportunities to talk.

Stressing an importance on preparing players for life after sports, Coach Blair suggested bringing in life skills development for the team. By bringing in financial advisers or alumni, they can act as resources to help educate them. Each player should have her own binder to keep track of notes that will help prepare her for the job search process and ultimately a career after basketball.

Advancing skills as a coach:

  • Learn from others!
  • Watch a lot of videos (college, NBA, WNBA, etc.) to learn systems and to learn how to teach them.
  • In the off season, pick something and be deliberate about learning it!
Other Advice:

Dive into the x’s and o’s! It’s easy to get wrapped up in recruiting, but study the systems as well. Know Princeton, the triangle, etc.

Books:
  1. The Power of Who, Bob Beaudine
  2. Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi
  3. The Little Black Book of Connections, Jeffery Gitmer

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