Associate Head Coach at Harvard
For Coach Mike Roux, the path into collegiate coaching has been one filled with a variety of experiences, each helping prepare him for his current role with Harvard Women’s Basketball.* His involvement with collegiate basketball began while he was enrolled at the Division II Assumption College, where he took a chance on becoming a practice player. Upon graduation he spent time as a guidance counselor and was an assistant for the Division III Nichols College Men’s Basketball program. From there he spent two years at Southern New Hampshire University, was an assistant at Holy Cross, and has since spent the last five years at the University of New Hampshire including three years as the Associate Head Coach.
Working Your Way Up
Before arriving in the Division I Ivy League, Coach Roux had already built a fundamental foundation of skills to help prepare him for success. Working at lower levels he was able to learn how to do everything. At the Division III level, you have to do a little bit of everything. When something has to get done, you are that person. By having that responsibility, you learn that it’s possible to do it all and you see how it works. Having a hand in a variety of roles has allowed him to bring a diverse skill set to his coaching positions.
“I started at the bottom. Now can can appreciate what I did and where I’m going.” ~Coach Mike Roux
It Takes a Village
When we first set up an interview with Coach Roux, we were curious to learn about the unique coaching aspects that he has noticed coaching in the Ivy League. Part of what he has enjoyed is how well Harvard helps prepare the players for life after basketball and how much the team acts as a unit. “Just as it take a village to raise a kid, it takes a village to create a good player.” With young women who are so determined to do well and succeed for their teammates, handling mistakes does not always come easily. They can be especially hard on themselves when they feel they have let the team down. Coach Roux stresses the importance of reminding the players that “it’s not just ‘you’ who made the mistake. We need to do this together and lean on each other…The players might be thinking ‘I screwed up, it’s my fault’ but there’s typically many more people involved in the mistake.”
One might assume that with so much going on academically, the players could have a hard time focusing at practice. However, Coach Roux asserts just the opposite. “The girls are so driven that whatever task they’re working on, they’re completely committed to.” When it comes to creating scout, they keep them as simple as possible, only about a page and a half. The staff truly focuses on giving them exactly what they need to digest and nothing more. The players have so much going on that the scouts are as concise as possible.
As far as succeeding off of the court, Coach Roux feels that Harvard does a tremendous job of helping guide the players. The system they have in place to help them grow inside of the classroom, the network of alumni that can help mentor the players, and the opportunities that the institution provides to help them gain experiences in their desired fields all culminate the Harvard experience. Because Harvard is in the Ivy League they are unable to provide athletic scholarships. This challenges the coaches in the Ivy League to recruit students to the school for reasons besides a scholarship.
Coaching: Love What You Do
Whether it’s recruiting, drawing out the x’s and o’s or helping kids grow, the game of basketball can impact a lot of lives. Coach Roux got into coaching not to make a ton of money, but to build relationships and enjoy the game. This, he says, has helped change his life forever. Throughout his coaching career he has continually sought out ways to learn more. “Basketball is a game that has been stolen.” He will go to clinics, call up colleagues, or spend a day with another staff just to expose himself to a variety of experiences and continue to learn and grow.
*As of March 27, 2017 Coach Mike Roux has been promoted to Associate Head Coach at Harvard University