5 for Friday: Weston Strayer

Radford’s video coor­di­na­tor offers his top advice for break­ing into what’s becom­ing an increas­ing­ly com­pet­i­tive field.

5 for Friday: Weston Strayer

Radford’s video coor­di­na­tor offers his top advice for break­ing into what’s becom­ing an increas­ing­ly com­pet­i­tive field.

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.”

Previous 5 for Friday entries

Mark Turgeon, Maryland head coach

BJ Johnson, USA Basketball assis­tant director

George Kiel, sneak­er fanatic

Josh Eberley, NBA​.com writer