There and Back Again: How a Job with College Basketball can Help You Become a High School Coach

Teddy Owens always wanted to be a high school coach. He just didn’t always expect that road to include a stint in a college department.

There and Back Again: How a Job with College Basketball can Help You Become a High School Coach

Teddy Owens always wanted to be a high school coach. He just didn’t always expect that road to include a stint in a college department.

There is no direct line that an aspiring coach must follow to lead a team at the high school level. Coaches come from all different backgrounds and walks of life, lending an interesting diversity to the profession.

Teddy Owens is a prime example. After four seasons at the University of Nebraska, including the final three as the director basketball of operations, Owens announced on April 25 that he was headed back to high school, taking the head job at Carrollwood Day High in Tampa, Fla. Although he relished his six seasons at the college level, the itch to get back into coaching proved too strong to stay away.

“I just missed being on the floor,” Owens said. “So when this opportunity came, I knew it was what I had to do. I had to coach. It’s a great setup and my main thing is I want to make an impact on young men in any way I can. I’ve been around a lot of people that have helped me grow as a coach and grow as a teacher. I want to be able to give back and help other people achieve their goals.”

The son of ex-Kansas University coach Ted Owens, Teddy got his start at the high school level, directing Lincoln Christian to the Oklahoma state tournament in two of his three years. But when Lon Kruger landed the Oklahoma University job in 2011, Owens persistently pitched himself to the coaching legend and earned a graduate assistant position.

Owens knew if his career was to progress, he needed to provide value and bring something new to the table. So he began creating books for AAU tournaments that had player breakdowns, itineraries and other noteworthy information about potential recruits. Nebraska coach Tim Miles saw Kruger leafing through one at a tournament and asked him about it. Soon after, he hired the book’s creator.

While he ultimately felt pulled back to coaching, Owens greatly values what he learned as a director of operations. He experienced the value of dealing with people and remaining organized, something he admits he didn’t do well in his first coaching job.

“I think that’s the most important thing in sports - if you can connect with people and communicate properly and get them to understand your side of things and get them to buy in, that’s how you have success. You’ve got to be able to drive other people.

“I feel completely comfortable going in and running my program again because I understand everything that can make a program successful. Doing this, being on the operations side on the college level, you learn that you’ve got to be organized or it just falls apart. That’s been my biggest growth.”

Owens makes it clear that it’s not necessarily the path that can make or break the opportunity to become a head coach - it’s the effort and the ability to soak up knowledge from everyone you interact with.

“I learned from seven different coaches who I worked for, all different types of ways of doing things,” Owens said. “In operations, that’s really all I can do - sit back and watch what other people do and evaluate.”

And at the end, it’s probably going to take some humility. Owens’ rise was a relatively brief one, but his career began with a year as a coach of a high school freshman team and another year as a manager at Oklahoma State.

Neither position carried much prestige, but the lessons and connections Owens gained while manning lesser positions set him up for future success.

“Just shut out the ego,” Owens said. “I didn’t want to use my dad as a crutch at any point. I didn’t want people to say, ‘Oh, he’s just Ted Owens’ son. He’s not going to work hard.’ I wanted to make an effort to be someone that would do anything and everything to help the program out.

“Just put yourself out there, take risks, take some jobs that maybe don’t pay a whole lot. Just do whatever you can do to get in, whether that’s high school on a freshman or a JV team. Just get your foot in the door and prove yourself.”

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