I wanted to give this month’s Retro Read a bit of a personal touch, a little bit of me. And I wanted that little bit to be basketball. I have been participating in basketball in one form or another since I was 4 years old when my dad enrolled me in a league at the YMCA. I don’t know why I remember this, but the pictures are vivid in my mind, and I mean high-resolution Blu-Ray vivid. The irony of my timing on this post is that we might not have an NBA season. College basketball, however, is basketball in its purest form; and no one has had more success in college basketball than Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski (hereafter referred to as Coach K, for brevity).

Ten years ago, Coach K released a book entitled Leading with the Heart, in which he chronicles the experiences of his life and how they led to his successful run coaching the Blue Devils. He paints a colorful and candid portrait of his system for building and maintaining a successful “basketball family” that is recommended reading for all young coaches.

Coach K notes that he informally coached his first team at age 12, a school league team comprised of his friends that organized their own pickup games each weekend during the season. The team was a true-life basketball version of The Sandlot and lit the fire under Coach K’s burning desire to become an educator. As a lifelong UNC Tar Heel fan, it both pains and nauseates me to admit that when I heard this story several years ago, it went a long way toward validating my similar dream. I coached my first basketball team at age 14; and, while it was a school league team, it was my brother and his friends that comprised the roster.

For the past 16 years, the majority of my winters have been spent in sparsely crowded gyms, quite the opposite of Coach K, but I can now respectfully admit that I have willingly cherry-picked (to use a basketball term) his ideas and implemented them as my own. This book on leadership has provided me with several of those ideas. Coach K says, “You develop a team to achieve what one person cannot accomplish alone. All of us alone are weaker, by far, than if all of us are together.” I like to think my poaching of ideas is just my participation as part of Coach K’s team.

As a lifelong Tar Heel fan, you can find me hugging a toilet. But you can find Leading with the Heart at Content Reserve. And you should.

Note: This evening Coach K will become the winningest Division I Men’s Basketball Coach in NCAA history. Sincere congrats to him and his program, and thanks for all his contributions to the game that has consumed so much of my life.

Jason Sockel is a Collection Development Associate at OverDrive.

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