Amie Smith Bradley: Assistant Coach at SMU
Amie Smith Bradley just completed her first year at SMU as an Assistant Coach for the program. Previously she served as an Assistant Athletics Director at the University of Texas at Austin from 2014-2016. Prior to her stint at UTA she was a Special Assistant with the University of Texas Women’s Basketball program. Coach Bradley also carries with her head coaching experience from her time at Trinity university in San Antonio, which included two NCAA tournament appearances. In addition to her collegiate experiences, she also has three season’s logged as a Special Assistant for the WNBA San Antonio Silver Stars, where she scouted, completed draft analysis, and worked with post players.
A Step Up: “Life Happens. Handle Change with Confidence.”
As a presenter at the A Step Up Symposium this May, Coach Bradley will be focusing on all of the different hats that coaches wear and how to handle them with confidence. Without giving too much away, her segment, entitled P.I.V.O.T. is an acronym that stands for: Process matters, Invest in yourself, Value others, Overcome obstacles, and Tell your story. At the symposium she will delve into some strategies to help coaches establish their “pivot foot” in order to navigate the different roles of a coach with more direction.
Bradley is no stranger to the A Step Up Symposium. She’s attended the symposium before and is excited to come back and share with fellow coaches! “Felicia and Johnny’s events are different than most because of the authenticity of the networking.” She cited that it is a very plugged in group, where everyone is taking notes and focused on learning, but it is done in a very intimate setting, which facilitates the creation of friendships, not just contacts. Felicia and Johnny do a tremendous job of creating these intimate settings where you can network and ask the really hard questions, and discuss “gray area issues” that are conducive to helping friendships develop. After attending A Step Up, Bradley found herself using things that she learned from the symposium all year long with her program.
“I’m passionate about helping young women stay in this profession. I believe they need to see this modeling happening…getting to know and talk to women face-to-face who are going where you want to go. A Step Up can help these young women reach out and develop those friendships within the coaching profession.”
Maps, Not Routines!
As coaches, we spend a lot of time teaching things on the court as well as teaching life lessons to our players. Modeling “how” we teach to our players is critical in leaving a “map” as Coach Bradley calls it. “Sometimes as coaches we get so busy creating a routine that sometimes we forget to leave a map, a significant piece in a career.” This map that Bradley is referring to can help coaches delegate to others more efficiently. Leaving a map, which in essence is teaching others how you have done things and helping them to find a successful path of their own, allows others to do their job well while giving you time and energy to focus on other important tasks that need to get done.
Over the years Coach Bradley has learned just how much the process matters. Not only is it important for players to understand that growth is a process, but they must also see the process of growth modeled by their coaches. At A Step Up, she will be sharing with attendees a reading list that has helped her understand and embrace her process. As a book lover she thinks it’s a crucial part of success for a leader to be a continuous learner and improve on what they do constantly.
Job Essentials For Your First 100 Days
As the coaching carousel keeps turning, many coaches are finding themselves at new programs come this time of year. We asked Coach Bradley what advice she has for those first 100 days on the job and some tangible things coaches can do to help the transition. “Meet as many people as you possibly can and get to know your organizational chart!” Meeting people doesn’t mean simply learning their name. Coach Bradley recommends two questions to ask: 1. Why do you love working here? and 2. Why are you passionate about what you do? These two questions will not only help you learn their story, but it helps develop a relationship that goes past the surface level. Later when you are showing a recruit around the institution and you pass them, you’re able to provide a more thorough introduction, speaking to the community and culture of the athletic department as a whole.
Try to See Above the Tree Line
Working within an athletic department can be a tricky task when it comes to understanding all of the moving parts. One of the keys to keeping harmony between administration and your coaching staff is to try to listen to them and understand their point of view as they can typically see a bigger picture. Often, coaches can only see what is around them (i.e. we need better facilities, we need gear, etc.) but they cannot see above the tree line. For example, you may get frustrated that the administrations says no to your idea of asking a donor for small sum of money. However, what is “above the tree line” that you might not be able to see and they can’t share with you at that time, is that the athletic department has already asked that donor for a much larger sum and they don’t want to jeopardize losing that donation. Obviously getting the bigger sum of money would in turn help your program much more. The lesson here, Coach Bradley emphasized, is to not assume that the administration is against your program! “The worst thing we can do is to not communicate with our administrators. We know what it is like when we experience this lack of communication with our players, so we must model this communication in how we work with administration.”
Not Balance, but Integration
Coach Bradley is not only a coach, but is also a mother to five, yes five, children! With a great support system, a coaching staff and Athletic Director who value family life, and a self-awareness of the need to take care of yourself, she wears both hats proudly and successfully!
“I used to think that work life balance was my goal…but what I’ve learned is it’s not balance you’re striving after, its more integrating.”
At SMU, families and kids are always within eyesight, which makes integrating work and home much more manageable. She’s aware, however, that spending time to take care of herself is critical to this integration. “As an athlete you know there’s a difference between hurt and injured, and you know when you can push through. As I’ve gotten deeper into my career, I’ve learned that when I stop and take care of myself, I’m much better at work and at home.” What has also helped her is paying close attention to who is in her circle. This includes coaches, people who have absolutely nothing to do with basketball, and women who she respects of all different backgrounds, all of whom provide a unique perspective. Additionally, she’s very appreciative of her faith, knowing God has given her this opportunity in life. She’s been able to grow in her faith walk, knowing that when things feel out of control, she has her faith as a solid foundation to lean back on.
“The mentality of the coaching profession has gotten so competitive that it’s good to know that my faith has given me a good perspective on what’s important when I’m making decisions.”