Assistant Coach at University of Kentucky
With over 40 years of coaching experience, Coach Lin Dunn has returned to college coaching as an assistant for The University of Kentucky women’s basketball program. Her head coaching stints in professional women’s basketball include time with the Portland Power, the Indiana Fever (2012 WNBA Champions) and serving as both the first general manager and head coach of the Seattle Storm.
Her collegiate coaching career includes l
eading programs at Austin Peay, Ole Miss, Miami, and Purdue. Accomplishments of her successful and iconic career include a WNBA Championship, a National Championship, being a member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, and winning a bronze medal as an assistant coach with the 1992 USA Olympic team.
Quick Hitter Advice for Aspiring and Young Coaches:
- Not establishing and sticking to your core values as a coach is like building a house without a foundation. As a coach, these core values will help get you through the tough times and create your culture.
- Stop constantly looking for a new job or the next opportunity!
- Give 110% of your effort into what you are doing now and the next opportunity will come.
- Don’t hunt for other jobs, if you do your job well someone will find you.
- Try to become a specialist in something you love to study. Coach Dunn really enjoys BLOBS, SLOBS and Special Situations and always has an eye out while watching games to learn new plays and improve the ones she uses.
- The more you can get involved in, the better!
- Read books, go to clinics, watch videos, get a mentor to guide you, watch the pro’s, go to training camps, sit in on practice planning meetings, etc.
- Make sure recruits are aware of your core values before they get to campus. You need to speak about topics of accountability, unselfishness, etc. during the recruiting process so they understand the foundation of your program.
Starving to Play and Paving the Way
Growing up in a time before Title IX, Coach Dunn found herself being starved of the opportunity to play sports. With a love for competition, pursuing coaching helped to quench her thirst for the action. She began her career at Austin Peay University as a physical education instructor in charge of the cheerleaders and a volunteer coach for girl’s volleyball, basketball, and tennis. At the time she began coaching, she said that no one could predict the growth that women’s sports were about to see. Due to the enactment of Title IX, by law male and female students have to have equal opportunities in athletics and any other federally funded program.
As someone who has helped to pave the way for equality in female athletics, Coach Dunn has witnessed the strides that women’s sports have made towards equality, but continues to see the inequalities that exist. We still find institutions today that are not in compliance and athletic departments are still adjusting to sharing facilities and resources. One thing she’s noticed, however, is that many of the young women who are playing today have parents who grew up through the implementation of Title IX. Because of this, those parents are helping to demand and expect equal opportunities for their daughters.
Practice, we talkin’ ‘bout practice?
After achieving the highest level of success at both the collegiate and professional levels of the game and retiring in 2014, many were surprised by Dunn’s return to the college game. When asked why she came out of retirement she attributed much of the move to her love for practice time with her players as well as her love for game strategizing. Although she enjoyed retirement, she missed being on the court everyday with a team and seeing them improve towards a common goal together. She views basketball as a moving game of chess that requires constant adjustments and strategizing for optimal improvement and performance.
Iron Sharpens Iron
To improve your skills as a coach she suggests that you find a strong group of coaching friends to consistently get together with and cover topics of the game. While this is a more common practice in the men’s game, she believes that the women’s game needs to collaborate more frequently and spend time developing coaching skills within their circle or network of people. Whatever the topic may be, coming together to help one another learn and grow will only improve our game and each individual coach.
A Game of Adjustments, A Career of Adjustments
Just as players are always seeking to become better and enhance their skills, a Coach must do the same. For Coach Dunn, her preparation and coaching style have evolved, as she became a more experienced coach. She focused on doing less but doing it better. She became more relaxed with her players and let her personality come out while her career progressed.
When she began her career, the idolized style of coaching was one characterized by screaming, sprints, and criticism. Many thought that emulating this style, used by iconic coaches, was the only way to coach a successful team. As her coaching career progressed she found that her teams were able to achieve success without her being intensely overbearing and only using punishment-based coaching. She changed her style but kept her standards high and found more positive ways to demand the best out of her players.
All Levels, All Players
For Coach Dunn, one of the biggest differences between the college and professional level is the time athletes are able to dedicate to learning and improving their game. As a collegiate coach much of your time is centered on obstacles that you don’t have in the professional game such as recruiting and academics. As a WNBA coach she enjoyed being able to coach and spend time with career-oriented players that were young adults in there 20s and 30s. The WNBA allowed her to focus on the x’s and o’s, coaching the best of the best.
As she reenters the college game she is anxious to see how she can connect with college students and help them to perform on the court. Professional athletes are already motivated high achievers who wouldn’t have made it to the pros without a self-motor.
As someone who’s core values include toughness, team first and an incredible work ethic, Coach Dunn is excited and curious to tackle the challenge of motivating her student-athletes into becoming the best they are capable of becoming.
You can follow Coach Dunn on Twitter: @UKCoachDunn