This spring, Kevin Eastman returned to campus to discuss his leadership experience with our first-years, futures, and coaches. Coach Eastman started his career coaching men’s basketball at the collegiate level, and over time, moved to the NBA and spent 13 years as an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Clippers. He also served as the Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Clippers. After leaving the NBA in 2016, Coach Eastman started his professional speaking career, and has worked with athletes, coaches, and corporations.
Over the course of two days, our student-athletes and coaches learned about Eastman’s coaching philosophy. To kick-off the series, Eastman spoke with the first-years. Leading up to the event, the first-years completed the DiSC assessment, a personality assessment provided by the NCAA that helps students understand how their character is shaped by the traits of dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientiousness. Coach Eastman then spoke on the importance of self-awareness as a leader. He noted that those who are able to speak and hear the truth, and remain true to their values are typically the best leaders.
Coach Eastman spoke with the Athletic Department next, focusing on how coaches can be their best, and facilitate excellence within their teams. He emphasized the importance of accountability, hard work, and open-minded learning. Eastman also provided valuable insight on the value of building relationships with your players. If you understand a player’s personality and background, then you are able to coach them more effectively.
With the Futures, Coach Eastman recounted stories of famous NBA players to present his leadership philosophy. He impressed upon the student-athletes the importance of being intentional with your time, preparing yourself both mentally and physically, and putting in the unrequired work. Eastman mentioned Kobe Bryant as an athlete who consistently did all three of these actions. Kobe was a student of the game; he would watch hours of film to learn different ways to handle in-game situations. He would also arrive at practice early and leave practices late to perfect his skills. Although the time and effort that Kobe put in was not required by his coaches, he realized that doing so would make him the best. Coach Eastman also urged the student-athletes to work on their communication skills – one-on-one, face-to-face interaction is required to build authentic relationships, a crucial part of leadership.
Overall, the department and student-athletes had great sessions with Coach Eastman, and learned a few new strategies for thinking about leadership and excellence.