We get to interact with some pretty cool people here at Hudl. Between coaches, video coordinators, players and talent evaluators, we search for insights inside the basketball space. Now we want to share that access with you.
Welcome to 5 For Friday, where we sit down with one individual each week and hit them with five questions.
This week our guest is Weston Strayer, the Assistant Director of Basketball Operations at Radford University. A former manager and graduate assistant at Ohio State, Strayer spent a year working as an assistant at Division II school Lake Superior State before landing with the Highlanders. Throughout his career he’s experienced the struggles of breaking into the crowded video coordinator field, but his experiences allow him to offer advice to others looking to break into the profession.
What’s your top advice for aspiring video coordinators?
“You’ve got to network and you’ve got to get to know people. You have to get to know assistant coaches and head coaches, but those people don’t want to talk to people that are aspiring. It’s just as important to talk to other people at your level. I was a manager, and talking to other managers, those are guys now that are working their way through and they’ve seen what it takes. They have the tidbits and the tricks and things to help move you up. Don’t be afraid to stay in touch with people that are at your level even if they’re kind of your competition. In the end, they’re the ones that are doing the same job. They’re the ones that can figure out the competitive advantage in the long run.”
How do you break into the video coordinator business?
“I was a manager and I feel like that really gave me a leg up. But the only other way to get a leg up is to do the summer camp circuit. You get to meet people, you’re traveling and you’re adding things to your resume. Bigger schools will take you in, so you get the power of those bigger schools on your side. In my time I did camps at VCU with Shaka Smart. I went to Cincinnati. I went to Memphis with Josh Pastner. It was a good way for me to step out of my comfort zone and go out on my own and meet people. That’s what helped me get my job here, connections from camps. In a way, a lot of people worry so much about a Division I stigma and they have to be at the top level. But in going to Division II, I was able to recruit and have a voice in strategy. I was able to expand in a role that you’re really not able to do as a video coordinator because of NCAA rules. That helped to sell me to coaches in this next cycle, to be able to say, ‘I’ve done some of the things that most people who are looking at this job haven’t done.’ It gave me a little bit of a leg up.”
So a big key to this role is diversifying yourself?
“Oh yeah, especially if you’re in a smaller school situation, because there aren’t the hands on deck that you have in other situations. When I was at Ohio State as a manager, some years we had 14 managers and a couple of GAs. The athletic department is giant. Here at Radford, graphic design work is done by me or another one of our assistants. If we’re doing marketing, we’re assisting with it. Sometimes we even step into the sports information role. It’s one of those things where you have to be ready to do so many things, and if you can sell yourself on someone that you’re not one-dimensional, it really helps make you out as someone who can handle all these roles and help a program as a whole as opposed to just one specific area.”
How willing does someone have to be to work for free?
“That’s one of the hardest aspects to it. You have your mind set on this goal, but you have to pay the dues and gain the experience. Because they know that the market is so crowded and there are so many people willing to take the job, so many people applying, you’re not going to get what you would normally get with your standard 9 to 5 job. Because of some of the athletic department rules, they can kind of stage it where you’re not technically a full-time employee, or they can find ways to get you out of the benefits. It’s all a part of the process and all part of learning how bad you really want this.”
How do you stay focused throughout the humble beginnings?
“You have to have a great support system around you to help you through it, because it is a great commitment and it’s hard to know that sometimes you’ve earned a master’s degree and I’m watching friends blowing up in business jobs or doing other things, and sometimes I feel stuck behind. But it’s all about keeping your eyes on the big picture and knowing that you’re working towards that goal.”