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Rising Coaches Elite helps open doors for support staffers


It’s a question that quite a few people who hope to become college basketball coaches tend to ask regularly: how do I get started?

For many that means becoming a manager while in school, then moving on to a position such as graduate assistant, director of basketball operations or video coordinator.

But an even more important question to answer when reaching that stage is how to go about becoming a full-time assistant coach.

That’s where Rising Coaches Elite, founded in 2010 by three then-members of the basketball support staff at Clemson, comes into play.

Founders Adam Gordon, Andy Farrell and Trey Meyer originally came up with the idea at the 2010 Final Four, simply trying to figure out where they could watch the games.

“We asked ‘why not do this every year?,’” said Farrell, who is now the director of basketball operations at DePaul, in an interview with

“It was a good way for us to keep in touch (the three founders were all headed to new jobs), and we decided to invite other support staffers in order to network.”

Rising Coaches Elite, which welcomes between 80 and 100 support staffers to its annual conference, is in its third year of operation with their third conference to take place in Las Vegas next week.

Farrell, who spent a year as a graduate assistant under Anthony Grant at VCU in 2007, says that the first seed for Rising Coaches Elite was planted during that time in Richmond.

It was that administration that began the Villa 7 project, which has done wonders for assistant coaches looking to take the next step and become head coaches.

“Villa 7 planted the seed in my head, and there was no project of that kind for support staff,” said Farrell.

From that point and a quick gathering to watch the Final Four on TV has come a project that’s enjoyed a great amount of success in just three years.

“It’s been overwhelming how many coaches wanted to speak [at the event],” noted Farrell, with the conference coinciding with many of the nation’s coaches in town for the final open evaluation period of the summer.

“Everything from career paths and anything else to do with the profession.”

When asked what pieces of advice from head or assistant coaches who have spoken at the event stuck out Farrell offered the words of current SMU assistant Jerrance Howard, who advised the participants to have a passion for their job.

With coaching not being your standard 9-to-5 job, lack of passion for what you’re doing can lead to it being a short stay in the field.

“There are two key things that have been mentioned by just about every speaker: loyalty and do your job well,” said Farrell.

“You have to be loyal to yourself and to your co-workers, and you can never move up if you don’t do your job well.”

Farrell has been able to additional tasks to his list of responsibilities thanks to the latter, and displaying the ability to handle more duties can make a support staffer all the more attractive to prospective employers.

Speakers this year include head coaches Bill Coen (Northeastern), Matt Painter (Purdue), Dave Rice (UNLV) and Rob Senderoff (Kent State).

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.