Patrick Harrison: North Dakota State Bison Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach

The 2015-2016 season marks the start of Patrick Harrison’s second season as an Assistant for the North Dakota State Bison. In the 2014-2015 Coach Harrison was tabbed by Kalina Scouting as the Summit League Assistant Coach of the Year. Before arriving at North Dakota in 2014 he served as the lead assistant at Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. who finished the season in the NAIA women’s basketball national quarterfinal and with a record of 28-6. Harrison also has Graduate Assistantship experience at Wichita State University where the Shockers advanced to the 2013 NCAA tournament and took the Missouri Valley Conference Championship. His coaching career began as an assistant at both Pratt Community College and Friends University  in Kansas. 

Owning Your Craft

Coach Harrison’s primary advice to young coaches is to own your craft. Figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are and continue to grow in your skill sets. What are you really good at and what do you need to improve upon to better help your players? Coaching is a lifestyle and you have to present yourself that way, especially on the recruiting trail. Be put together with what you are wearing and how you are acting while out recruiting. There are lot of people out there making mistakes at this.

A large percentage of coaches are former standout players. Those coaches now face the challenge of owning their craft as a coach instead of as a player. It is a change in your identity that you typically have to go out and seek more information from others to change. This is a career field with so many avenues to continuously learn and you have to take advantage of those. Coach Harrison read a lot when he was younger but now that everything is available online, he utilizes videos on Coaching U and others online similar to it.

Creating Successful Habits 

Coach Harrison’s first suggested habit for success is taking care of yourself so you can invest in others. Whether this is working out regularly, taking personal time away each day, going to the movies, etc. You need a way to refuel your tank so you can continuously give to your players. It’s all about life balance and that is difficult for young coaches because they are often working their tails off to get to the next level. Early on in a coaching career sometimes balance isn’t possible but you have to try the best you can.

Making The Best of Where You Are At

Coach Harrison took a bit of a nontraditional path into his career as he was an assistant, then a graduate assistant and now an assistant again. He feels thankful for his time as an assistant before doing his graduate assistantship at Wichita State because it helped him to better understand what the assistants were going through and how he could best help them. As a Graduate Assistant he never allowed himself to say no, creating some tough years (which included living on a couch for sometime) but it sets you up for success in the future. He was able to get a glimpse of what life as a coach at that level is like and the time demand that is required. As well he suggests to GA’s and young coaches that you need to be able to as much technology work as possible because in this day and age it will open up more opportunity for you. The more you can do the better!

And One Advice 

  1. As a young coach you need to find three things that you are really good at and own them. He prides himself on his ability to recruit, develop players and understand the X’s and O’s of the game.
  2. In recruiting their are many variables that you can’t control and you have to accept that. You can have an incredible visit with a kid but they decide to go somewhere else. This can be disappointing at times but can also be one of the most exciting parts of the job. As a recruiter you also get the challenge of relating to people of all different statuses and demographics which he enjoys.
  3. Learning how to deal with the lows of coaching is also very important. Everyone finds their own way to deal and cope and Coach Harrison’s best way for getting over a difficult loss or a tough time professionally is to visit his young nieces and nephews.


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