Meet Coach K

Mike-Krzyzewski-2015Duke Basketball and United States National Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski cannot be defined solely by those accolades reserved for a highly successful sports coach. Indeed, Krzyzewski, entering his 36th season at Duke, has led the Blue Devils to numerous winning seasons, coached players who have produced superb graduation rates and crafted a tremendous on-court legacy. However, the Hall of Famer also sets the bar as a humanitarian of sport, an ambassador of education, a coach, a teacher, a friend, a family man, a leader and a motivator. While fans worldwide know the three-time national champion as “Coach K,” his three daughters call him their “hero”, his players regard him as a father figure and his coaching staff and close friends consider him the ideal mentor. In a single word, Mike Krzyzewski is superlative.

Born on February 13, 1947, Michael William Krzyzewski [pronounced Sha-shef-ski] grew up in Chicago, IL and attended Weber High School. Following high school, Krzyzewski enrolled at the United States Military Academy, where he became a three-year letterman from 1967 to 1969. In 1969, as a team captain, a second team All-NIT honoree and a North-South Game participant, Krzyzewski graduated with a B.S. degree from West Point.

After serving five years as an officer in the United States Army from 1969 to 1974, Krzyzewski began his college coaching career as a graduate assistant at Indiana University under Bobby Knight, his former coach at Army, in 1974-1975. Krzyzewski’s first head coaching position came a year later when he returned to West Point in 1975. In his five years at West Point, Krzyzewski led the Cadets to a 73-59 record and one NIT appearance in 1978.

On May 4, 1980 Mike Krzyzewski was introduced as the head coach of the Duke Men’s Basketball Team. After some difficult early seasons, the Duke program has become one of the most successful of all time. In 28 years at Duke, Krzyzewski, a 12-time National Coach of the Year, has built a dynasty that few programs in the history of the game can match. Named “America’s Best Coach” in 2001 by Time magazine and CNN, Krzyzewski has earned nearly every award imaginable. Also in 2001, Krzyzewski received basketball’s highest honor when he was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Krzyzewski added to his already impressive list of accomplishments on Sept. 26, 2005 when he was named head coach of the USA Basketball Men’s Senior National Team program for 2006-2008.

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You have to adapt what you do based on who you are. In teaching, you must remember that no group or individual is the same as who you taught the day before, the year before, or the decade before. Your plan has to suit who you and your team are right now.

- Coach K

When you are winning, your commitment is never challenged. But loyalty and dedication during difficult times can be tough. When commitment doesn’t waver, that’s when you have the greatest chance of winning. You can never give up.

- Coach K

Take care not to allow one aspect of your life to so consume you that you neglect the others. Balance can put things in perspective, can bring you joy even when you are down, and can allow you to be at your best in all aspects of your life.

- Coach K

When you care about someone or something, you show genuine concern for that person or thing, in good times or bad. When you care about one another and about your purpose, you are compelled to put your feelings into action. Care creates an atmosphere that breeds success and gives you the confidence to try again.

- Coach K

Effective teamwork begins and ends with communication. Communication does not always occur naturally, and must be taught and practiced in order to bring everyone together as one. The most crucial element of communicating is telling the truth.

- Coach K

You can possess countless good qualities as an individual, but if you don”t have the courage to proceed, you may never see those qualities come into fruition. It takes courage to put what you believe to be best of you on the line, to test it, and to see how far it takes you. Courage means daring to do what you imagine.

- Coach K

No matter how successful you believe yourself to be, you can never feel as if you’ve reached the absolute pinnacle. There are always new and wonderful challenges out there, and part of maintaining success is knowing when you need to accept them.

- Coach K

Adversity can teach you more about yourself than any success, and overcoming an obstacle can sometimes feel even better than achieving an easy victory. Through adversity, you can discover things about your endurance, your ability to turn a negative into a positive, and your personal strength of heart.

- Coach K

Belief can mean the difference between a fear of failure and the courage to try. On a team or in a family, belief makes each individual stronger and also fortifies the group as a whole. The basis of belief is in individual relationships.

- Coach K
Collective Responsibility

We win and we lose together. Handling the responsibility for wins and losses together removes the burden from one individual’s shoulders and distributes it among each member of the team. That atmosphere is conducive to high-level performance and places you and your team in the position to be bold and unafraid, and if you should lose, you are not alone.

- Coach K
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