Aaron Fearne

Website – https://charlotte49ers.com/sports/mens-basketball

Email – aaronfearne14@gmail.com

Twitter – @aaronfearne14

Aaron Fearne is in his third season as a Men’s Basketball Assistant Coach at UNC Charlotte.  Fearne is also the head coach of New Zealand’s U-19 National Team.

Fearne joined the 49ers coaching staff after nine years as head coach of the National Basketball League’s Cairns Taipans, which plays in Australia’s top professional league. In his nine seasons at the helm of the Taipans, he coached 264 games and guided them to three appearances in the NBL playoffs. In 2011, he led the team to an appearance in the NBL Finals. In 2015, he coached the Taipans to a record 21 wins and another appearance in the league finals while garnering NBL Coach of the Year honors. Prior to becoming the head coach, Fearne spent seven seasons (2001-08) as an assistant coach for the Taipans.

Fearne also enjoyed a successful playing career in Australia. Fearne, who is from Cairns, Queensland, Australia, played college basketball in the United States. He played the 1993-94 season at Western Wisconsin Technical College. Then, he played the 1994-95 season at Mid-State Technical College where he earned an associate’s degree. He played his final two seasons at Mayville State University in Mayville, North Dakota.

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Have a notebook handy as you listen to this episode with Aaron Fearne, Men’s Basketball Assistant Coach at UNC Charlotte.

What We Discuss with Aaron Fearne

  • Growing up in New Zealand learning the game from two American coaches
  • Leaving New Zealand at 17 to play high school and college basketball in the United States
  • New Zealand’s high school based system vs. Australia’s club-based system
  • “I’ve always wanted to give back to the game and, and share the game and teach the game and, and help young help young athletes realize their dreams.”
  • Seeing the game at the level of a coach even when he was playing
  • Getting an opportunity to coach with the Cairns Taipans as his pro career was winding down
  • Preparation and Organization
  • “I never want my players to be surprised by something.”
  • Why he prefers a video database to written notes/diagrams
  • Coaching younger players while he was still playing
  • The Australian basketball system allowed him to get a ton of reps coaching juniors before he got a real chance to coach at the highest level
  • The typical path to coaching here in the US and its inherent flaws
  • Why we need state coaching development offices in every state here in the US
  • The benefits of coach certification
  • “I want the players to feel like that they own the team. They have ownership of the team. It’s not dictated team by me.”
  • Developing a leadership group to monitor and enforce and discipline when things are not followed the way that is agreed upon as a team
  • “I feel coaches spend way too much time on offense and defense and not enough time on culture.”
  • 1/3 of your time should be spent on culture
  • How do we want to be seen and what behaviors show that?
  • Player driven accountability when it comes to enforcing the culture and behaviors
  • Start, Stop, Keep
  • “If we want to be seen as being tough. Well, we better do some drills to build toughness.”
  • You must hold guys accountable to the stuff that everyone’s agreed to.”
  • When your culture is strong new guys conform pretty quickly
  • When you’ve been part of a great team, you know it
  • “The mission for me is to get that cohesion and connection between every member of the team for a common goal.”
  • “We are trying to help them set themselves up for that next part of their life.”
  • Character and Competitive Spirit
  • “If you’re a great person and you’re willing to compete and really work because you want to get better, we’ll help coach you up and grow your skill level and grow your understanding of the game.”
  • Sometimes you can’t ask for anything more from players and you may still end up with a loss on the scoreboard
  • The power of sports to make an impact on players as people
  • “There is no greater satisfaction for me than having guys put in the work.”
  • The greatest are the greatest because they showed up and put in the work
  • “Be confident with what you do, but don’t be arrogant about it.”

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[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: Hello, and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here with my co-host Jason Sunkle. And tonight we are pleased to welcome to the podcast Aaron Fearne assistant men’s basketball coach at UNC Charlotte. Aaron, welcome to the Hoop Heads Pod.

[00:00:13] Aaron Fearne: Hey, thanks guys. I really appreciate being on and look looking forward to chatting.

[00:00:21] Mike Klinzing: Glad to have you on get a chance to dive into things that you’ve been able to do in the game of basketball throughout your career. Want to go back in time to when you were a kid? Talk to us a little bit about the first experiences with the game of basketball.

[00:00:35] Aaron Fearne: I was born in Australia and I grew up in New Zealand and got introduced to the game by two American coaches, actually coach Steve McCain, who played at Santa Barbara, back in the day, a code played New Zealand professional coach professionally in New Zealand.

And he was coaching the pro-team in my hometown, in new Plymouth and New Zealand. And my high school coach was a former Washington State Cougar by the name of Angelo hill. And they, they gave me an opportunity to play the game and I fell in love with it. And the passion that they coached with and Angelo at the time was still playing.

And the passion he played with yeah, I guess just, you know, push some buttons with me and, and I fell in love with the game and And that’s how it kind of went from there. And you know, I left, I left New Zealand at 17 years old to come to the U S and did a year of high school in Winona, Minnesota, and played a couple of years of junior college basketball and then played from Mayville State university an NAIA school in Mayville, North Dakota.

And my coach at that point was coach Tim Miles who, you know, coached at Nebraska a couple of seasons ago. And now, now is at San Jose state. And and then things just kept rolling from there. But yeah, I guess just getting back to that question, you know, like just growing up in New Zealand, not obviously a huge basketball country but growing as, as the game is around the world and you know, that’s how I got into the game.

[00:02:15] Mike Klinzing: What was the youth basketball scene like in New Zealand when you were growing up in other words, where were you playing? How were you getting out and practicing? Who are you playing against? What just, what was the system like when you were growing up at that time?

[00:02:31] Aaron Fearne: I mean, New Zealand is obviously a huge rugby union country.

That’s what every young boy dreams to be you know, a national team player for the New Zealand rugby union team. But your basketball at the time, it’s bigger in high school than it is in Australia. Australia is more of a club-based system where New Zealand is a little bit more focused on the high school system.

So Angelo Hill, as I mentioned earlier, coach the high school team you know, we’d go white you know, national championships. That’s what you really built for. To get to that point to go play, played a national championship. You would play some regional tournaments around the country, you know, it’s pretty easy to get around New Zealand.

It’s not very big. But yeah, back then you know, it’s obviously grown tremendously since I was playing in high school back in, what are they been really early nineties to where it is today, but it’s still is very high school based. In New Zealand, the club system’s grown a little bit more New Zealand, but yeah, that’s how it’s kind of running that part of the world where in Australia, you know, more cloud-based and you build a plane state, you know, you build your season to play in state championships and And then hopefully you get selected for a state team that goes away to national championships.

And you know, obviously lived in Australia for 20 years after leaving the U S here after university was done and, you know, got into coaching and playing there. But you obviously two countries pretty close together. But kind of run the junior programs a little different.

[00:04:12] Mike Klinzing: How did you end up in the U S and the specifically in Minnesota?

[00:04:16] Aaron Fearne: Yeah, that goes back to coach Steve McKean. He was from Minnesota. I still remember it to this day. I was actually at the YMCA in new Plymouth working out and the receptionist lady walked into the gym and said, Hey, Aaron, you got a call, a call. And I’m like, okay, I go answer the phone. It was coach McKean, coach McKean.

And he’d. He had gone back to the U S on holiday and said, Hey, would you be interested in coming to high school in the U S I’m like, for sure, I wouldn’t go as well. I’ll be back back in New Zealand and a couple of weeks, we’ll sit down with your family. And man, one thing made to a net to another, and all of a sudden I was hopping on a plane by myself, one fallen to the other side of the world and live with a number of different host families.

And had someone that really looked after me that I still keep in very close contact with now, Jerry Raditz who still lives in Winona, Minnesota. And he was big into the basketball and the baseball he’s, you know, he was a scout for the Cincinnati reds at the time. He’s a scout with Dodgers now, but also during the winter months was a scout in the CBA, which is, you know, basically the G league now.

And he just kind of taught me the ropes on high school hoops and college hoops and, and, you know, the pro hoops at the time and would take me to Minnesota Timberwolves games. And you know, it was obviously a huge, a huge help for me, just trying to get me to understand the, the basketball world here, which is obviously number one in the world, coming from the little load city where I come from New Zealand.

So that was you know, that was a huge steep learning curve for me about, you know, I played on an outstanding high school team and won a conference championship and I think we lost in the regional final something to go to the state championship or something like that back then. And yeah, I remember those days made a lot of really close friends and stay in contact with all those people.

From way back then and the game can take you to some amazing places.

[00:06:24] Mike Klinzing: It definitely can. There’s no question about that. What, how does your mom feel? How’d your parents feel? How’d your family feel about you packing up and heading over to the United States? And what were those conversations like leading up to the decision?

[00:06:38] Aaron Fearne: I mean, obviously super difficult for my parents. You know, mom never lived, never wants to see her, her son leave, but she totally understood that was something I really, really wanted to do and was really supportive. I’ve got two younger brothers you know, they now live in Australia.

They now live in Perth and they’ve been hugely supportive of my basketball journey and knew it was something that I loved and I wanted to do it. Came to the U S and watch me play in high school. Watch me play in college, obviously supported me during my coaching time, coaching days in Australia and yeah, not easy, you know, and it wasn’t easy for me either.

You know, I’m hopping on a plane by myself at 17 years old flying the other side of the world. I’d never been to the U S before and making a journey to Minneapolis and then drive into Winona, Minnesota, which obviously was I had to grow up pretty quickly and become pretty independent pretty quickly.

But as I said earlier, I had some amazing families I stayed with. And it was a phenomenal experience, which changed the course of my life.  It opened up doors and opportunities that I’ll be forever grateful for. And I’ve always wanted to give back to the game and, and share the game and teach the game and, and help young help young athletes realize their dreams.

And I think that’s really important.

[00:08:09] Mike Klinzing: When did coaching get on your radar? When did you start to think about coaching as a profession? Was it something that was always in the back of your mind throughout your playing career? Or was it something that when your playing career ended, you’re getting ready to graduate and now you look around, you say, Hey, I still want to be involved in that in the game, which one of those scenarios better describes how you came to coaching?

[00:08:34] Aaron Fearne: Yeah, that’s a good question. I felt like I always wanted to coach, even when I was even when I was in high school, in New Zealand, when I was playing for Angela Hill, like I coached, you know, junior teams in high school. And it’s just something I really enjoyed doing. I could feel it then. And I think during, during my high school career here in the us and college career you know, my semiprofessional career in Australia that led to my professional playing career that led into a coaching career.

I guess it was just in the blood and I think you coach players over your, I definitely coach players over my time that you just know that, Hey, they can be a good coach. One day, they understand the game, they have a good feel for the game. They read the game, they communicate the game to their teammates that don’t quite get it like that.

I guess I was just one of those type of people. I felt like I help people play the game, even when I played, because I feel like I could see it at a level that I guess coaches do. So yeah, but yeah, to answer that question, I think it was kind of in the veins pretty early on.

[00:09:56] Mike Klinzing: Talk a little bit about your professional career in Australia, what that was like, what your experiences were and just give us maybe a highlight or something that you’re always going to remember that you’re going to take with you for the rest of your life, from that professional career.

[00:10:09] Aaron Fearne: Yeah. So  I was finishing up my senior year at Mayville state. And we had a, I guess I had a relationship with a guy Nails Pop, who his dad, Rob Pop coached. In Wisconsin and now, and was coaching in Australia at the time. And we did like a little tryout in winter and Wynonna, and he was at the time coaching a division two program, like a semiprofessional program in Australia.

And I never, I don’t know why I felt this way. I wanted to go to Australia to try and play at that level, then go back to New Zealand and play. And so that’s the journey that I went and in college a small NAIA division two basketball, I was playing like a power forward Forward position.

I got to Australia and started playing with, you know, men and went probably a little smaller to play that position, you know? And so I had to really improve my perimeter skills and my perimeter shooting. And I worked really hard at. That first year that I played on that team, we actually won the national championship the Australian national championship at the time for a semi-professional division two basketball in Australia, which was obviously a, a huge, a huge highlight, you know, cause Cannes Australia is on the very far north, east coast of Australia and the tropics it’s in a city of 150,000 people.

And you know, the, the kind of the Mecca of basketball in Australia is Melbourne Australia. And so, you know that the talent and the competitiveness and just the sheer numbers of who plays is really high at that end of the con at the bottom of the country. And, you know, we’re taking on the rest of the country and won a championship.

You know, coach pop was. How would I describe him maybe a little Bobby Knightish, the way he coached, you know, it was very demanding required, an amazing discipline, you know, we played motion, but I just think getting back to what I said earlier, just having that feel for the game. And I totally understood where it came from, felt like I had the understanding of what he wanted and how the game should be played, you know, play a movement ball movement, you know, we played on offense.

So I felt like I understood that well, and, you know, we had American imports on our team and as you know, as as imports are all around the world these days, it was no different for our team. And so we did that for a year. And then at the end of that year the Cairns Taipans got and got accepted into the NBL, which is obviously the top level in Australia.

And I was fortunate enough to make that team. And the first year in 2000 and no, 1999, 2000 was the first year. After that first season of the NBL, which we really struggled coach pop got, let go. And a new coach came in and I played for guy Malloy. Who’s a huge mentor of mine these days.

And we talk on a very regular basis and I played for him for a year. And then this is when the big decision came. So it was the end of the far end of the first year playing for coach Malloy. And we were in Canberra, Australia on a road trip playing a game. And he wanted to have a conversation with me and he said, look, you can play for me next year, but I’m gonna employ someone to be an assistant coach and fill and fill another role.

And I would like you to consider it. And He goes, well, you can play for maybe another one or two years at this level, but I think you’ve got a longer career being a coach. So the decision’s yours and you know, in coaching off of see up in coaching now since 2001 at the professional level and made that decision and got the opportunity to be an assistant coach for the Cairns Taipans and learning at that high level.

Cause the Australian NBL is a high level league around the world. And coach Malloy gave me that opportunity and, and the rest is history when it comes to coaching really for that, that’s where it all kind of started for me at that level.

[00:14:35] Mike Klinzing: What are some things that when you think back to your first year or two, as an assistant there with the Thai pans that you still.

Fall back out or that you still look at those lessons that you learned in that first year or two that have stuck with you throughout your career. Is there anything that you can think of that?

[00:14:55] Aaron Fearne: Yeah, for sure. Or Coach Pop that first year, you know, we played motion ball movement, player, movement patients unbelievable spacing.

You know, he was a bit old school. Like when we practiced, we did not go up and down. We played half, we did half court drills, half court, five on five all the time. We really ever went up and down when we went up and down, it was on game nights. So that was very different. And then, then coaching and playing with coach Malloy his discipline and just his preparation and organization was, was phenomenal.

And those things have kind of stuck with me through my career. I would say that coaches and players that have, that have been on my staff or that I’ve coached, would say that you know, prepared and organized I try and cover the what-ifs as best as possible. And I’ll probably, you know, I definitely learnt those, learnt those from coach Moya and coach pop.

Because I think you have to be, you know, just the old sign, you know, you gotta be prepared and you gotta be prepared really well for whatever could be coming your way. And I never want, I never wanted my players to be surprised by something. I wanted them to. Just be prepared if I, if this does come the law, we’ve talked about it we’ll work on it.

All right. So it’s put into acting now. Are we going to be great at it? Maybe not, but at least it’s not a shock. So yeah, just the professionalism when it came to preparation was definitely a huge thing I learned.

[00:16:34] Mike Klinzing: So when you think about that professionalism and that making sure that your teams are prepared for what may come at you, how have you applied that in your own career as a coach, in terms of taking notes, being aware of what you’re doing, ma making observations, learning from the people that you’ve been fortunate enough to work for.

How have you kind of organized your coaching life in terms of, do you have three ring binders? Are you now a computer guy? Do you store files? Just what’s your system for. Keeping track of things that you want to add to your coaching repertoire. If that question makes sense…

[00:17:14] Aaron Fearne: Yeah. I’m a big building video database guy you know, and sports code is kind of what I’ve used over my career and we use it here at Charlotte also, but you know, just building video playbooks of your drills and your defensive system, your offensive system, your special situation stuff, or have that video archive that I have databases for days you know, not so much just written written stuff.

It’s more video stuff for me. So I can just easily go back to it and go, yeah, I want to have a look at, and I’ve tried obviously lots of different things. I would probably say that I’m. A little bit of a risk taker when I experiment and have experimented with a lot of different things over my career stuff that I like, I don’t like, but I’ve tried it sometimes.

Sometimes it works for this team. It does it for others. See, try something different. You know, you’re you know, I’ve run the all been shuffle over on the flow off fence. You know, we run motion here. We were on the Princeton stuff here. You know, I’ve, I’ve played when I played for coach Molly. We ran the triangle back then in the days.

So just having databases of that stuff I have all that archived for my references to go back back to when I know when I need to know, I guess that’s how I store and store my information.

[00:18:50] Mike Klinzing: So as you were building that database and thinking about what you want it to be when you became a head coach, obviously you’re an assistant there with the tie pans for a number of years, seven years or so.

And then you get an opportunity to take over as the head coach. What’s that transition like for you to go from being an assistant to a head coach? What were some of the biggest adjustments that you remember? And then how did you come up with your philosophy, your style of play, what you want it to be as a head coach, by going back and looking through all the things that you had accumulated to that point.

So just the transition. And then how did you kind of figure out what kind of coach you want it to be as a head coach versus an assistant.

[00:19:37] Aaron Fearne: Yeah, good question. I mean, my first year being the Taipans head coach, I had players on my team that we’re all older than me and a lot more experienced than I was.

I mean, Phil Jones was one of them. He’s a New Zealand national player that had been to the Olympics world cups. You know, it was like recognized on the world stage has been an elite shooter and, you know, the experience he had and he was phenomenal for me to, to be able to coach him. He let me coach him.

And that first year, and the transition from me being an assistant was I was an assistant. And Nathan, Joe White played for, for the Taipans at the time when I was an assistant, he got drafted by the Toronto Raptors. And he asked me to mentor support him that first year he played in the NBA.

So I had kind of a year away from the Taipans while I was over in Toronto. And then got the opportunity to be the head coach of the Taipans that following year. And this is where the, this is where overseas coaching development is a lot better in my opinion, than it does here in the U S so when I was playing semi-professional basketball in Australia, I was coaching the under 18 Cairns team.

And then I moved up to the under 23 Cairns team. And then, you know, I transitioned from playing for that semi professional team and then became the head coach of that team. So I had, you know, A number of years. I mean that what’s that seven, eight years of coaching under 18, under 20 threes, semiprofessional men experimenting, failing, succeeding, you know, trying this, trying that learning to you know, really build my defensive systems and offensive systems and learning to build culture.

And I’m big on that. The way that team culture’s built in Australia, New Zealand is a lot different than here. I’m learning to build relationships with players and you know, all the stuff I didn’t do well and got better at over the years of being able to, you know, succeed and fail with those different things.

So I took a lot of those experiences into that first year and, you know, the offenses that we ran and defenses that we run and we’ve been successful at those levels. So I just took that with me up to the NBL and, you know, the cans type pans are not recognized as a powerhouse when it comes to budget and compared to another, another up a number of the other teams in the league.

And you’ve got to find other ways to be competitive because you’re in the lake. It’s no different than the NBA with, you know, some of these teams that have huge budgets compared to other markets, we got to find a way to compete, you know, and your talents, not always going to be as good as, as all the teams.

So you gotta find a way to build a great culture and be really good defensively and play a certain way off offensively. And, and that’s how I built my teams just through the experience of being able to do that. Where here in the U S a lot of coaches don’t yes. They just don’t get those opportunities.

You play and you become an assistant and, you know, you’re coaching for somebody that’s the head coach. And then you might get an opportunity to be a head coach, and you’ve never had coached a game ever in your life ever. And I would have, and I would have done by that point. I got the beat, you know, by the time I was a head coach of the Taipans in game one, I probably would’ve coached, I don’t know, 300 games, maybe something like that, you know, like, can, you know, you learn a lot in 300 games at whatever level and, you know, dealing with parents and agents and so on and so forth.

So I’m extremely fortunate and extremely grateful that I had those opportunities. And you know, it prepared me pretty well. For that first year with the tie pans and then, you know, year two, we went to the NBL finals. So yeah, I think a lot of those experiences really helped.

[00:24:05] Mike Klinzing: I want to touch on a couple of things that you mentioned there while you were talking.

One is just the difference between how coaches outside of the us are developed and then the system that we have for, well, I guess there may be not, I mean, we say there isn’t a system and I’ll just give you a personal example and then I want to touch back on the culture piece of it. And we can talk about that as it relates to what you’ve done with the Taipans pans.

But first to just kind of give you a personal story about learning and getting reps as a coach. So when I graduated from college, I had played for one high school coach, one college coach. That was basically all I knew in terms of basketball X’s and O’s in terms of drills in terms of what I was going to do.

I basically just mimicked what I learned from those guys. And so I was a JV high school JV coach for two years. And. Ran those teams and try to do the best I could. I probably wasn’t very good as I look back and some of the things that I did that I certainly would do differently. And then I got an assistant coaching job and I was an assistant for who, I guess, 13 or 14 years.

But for the first, probably 10 of those years, I was only the varsity assistant coach. So to your point, I never coached the game. I was never in charge of calling time out. I was never in charge of substitutions. That was never in charge of really anything. I mean, I was the suggestion giver her. I was not making any decisions.

And then after about my 10th year there, I went and I coach one season of JV basketball and I had to go back and call time out and I had to make substitutions. And I was rusty. I was very, I was not very good at it because to your point, I had not had any of those reps. And I do think that here in the U S as you said, the typical role for.

Coach, especially I think at the college level, you have somebody who was either a former player, or I think now you have the route of there’s a lot of guys that go into the student manager route, and then they go from the student manager to they go and join a coaching staff, and then they’re an assistant and they work their way up.

And eventually they’re head coach. And like you said, they’ve now never coached a real game. And we’ve talked to so many coaches, Aaron on the podcast that have told us that when they were younger, one of the best things that they did was just try to get reps, coaching, whether that was coaching AAU basketball, or that was just coaching a rec team just to get those opportunities to coach.

So I wanted to ask you, when you think about what you would do to make our us system. And obviously you can’t wave a magic wand and just totally revamped the system. What are some small changes that you think we could make that would better develop coaches here in the United States?

[00:26:47] Aaron Fearne: Yeah, man, that’s a good question.

Yeah, cause I just to follow on what you’re saying quickly, like, you know, under 18, I went away to a Queensland, multiple times, Queensland state championship coaching in front of, you know, good size crowds. And like you said, put in situations where I’ve got to make in game quick decisions, substitutions, timeouts, you know, strategy changes and done that for under 20 threes.

And then obviously done that at the semi-professional level where you’re now going up another level, like, you know, like the comparison to the G league, you know, like coaching in front of bigger crowds and that’s, you know, you’ve got to satisfy sponsors and your fans and. You know, deal with egos, you know, with men and you know, like so many things you learn a lot of coaches here just never get the opportunity to do that.

Now, what Australia does an unbelievable job of is coach development. Like we have coaching development offices in each state in Australia that goes around and upskills high school coaches, club coaches identifies the, the high level talent on the boys and girls side puts programs in places that helps develop those athletes because big picture for us, as you know, those elite, that elite talent has got to represent a country one day are not aware that here in the U S that an each state of this country, I feel.

It should bedevelopment offices of you want to call them that, that, you know, like the state of North Carolina there two or three people in this state that go around helping high school coaches develop the craft by whatever offenses, defensives drills, skill development stuff. Give them suggestions, ideas.

Have you thought about this? That’s what we do in Australia. And it helps cause a big thing for us is that big philosophy in Australia as well. If we produce better coaches, we’re going to produce better players and to coach under eighteens or 20 threes or state junior team in Australia, you have to get certified through basketball Australia, which a lot of countries in the world do.

As you just can’t go, Hey, I want to go coach a North Carolina state team for, you know, means if I have, if I’m not being certified, certified by USA basketball, that’s how it works in Australia. So you have to educate yourself on the game. I feel there are a number of coaches here in this country that are not at that level.

I think that would go a long way and you know, that’s got to come from the governing body, I guess which would be obviously a huge mission, but other countries in the world around the world do that. I mean, there’s so much talent in this country. I mean, the athlete athleticism, the length, the skills of some of the players is just phenomenal.

The feel like it’s exceptional. I mean, if some of those programs were in place. Coach development helps him player development. The talent would be twofold threefold. So you, I feel like that that’s some stuff there that I think would really help develop the junior side of the game in this country would be putting those things in place.

[00:30:31] Mike Klinzing: I love that idea and I think USA basketball is taking baby steps towards that. It’s just interesting that in this country we have, because there’s such a monetary incentive for people with basketball here in the United States, you think about the different youth basketball leagues and travel and AAU and all these different programs.

And you have adults that are making a living and earning money from youth basketball. And a lot of times. Incentives. Don’t always align with what the incentives of the ideal situation might be for players and coaches. And I just think to your point that if we could figure out a way to better train our coaches at the youngest ages, even if you just think about just a recreation basketball program where you might just have parent volunteers, even if you could just get those parent volunteers, some basic training, you would be able to provide those kids with such a better experience and you keep more kids playing basketball because they’d have a better experience with their coaches.

And then it’s kind of a trickle up effect that you get better coaches at the lower levels. And then you’re producing better players as you talked about. And hopefully we’d get eventually be able to get all kinds of coaches underneath that umbrella, but because. Everybody’s in their own little silo and separated out and is trying to hold on to their business interests.

I think it’s really a challenge and USA basketball, I think, is finding that out. But I think they’re making some headway, but I just, I don’t know if they’re going to get there anytime soon, unless there would become a way to mandate it. And I just don’t think here in our country that we’re going to be able to pull that off anytime soon.

But I do think it’s a great idea. If we could get more people to go through the USA basketball certification, we’d be in a much better place with the game here in the U S because as you said, the talent level in the United States is unbelievable. And we do have, we do have lots and lots of great coaches, but we also, I think are leaving so much on the table because we’re not giving our coaches the training that they need in order to maximize what they could be.

And all you have to do is show up at a. Youth league game or show up at an AAU game, then you can see some, you can see some what not to do as a coach. Let’s put it that way. And there’s also a lot of people out there doing a great job for sure. There’s a lot of people that are out there doing it.

Right. And for sure. So, all right. Let’s jump into the culture piece. Talk to me a little bit about a, why culture is so important to you and why you think it has such a huge impact on winning and just providing a good experience for your players. And then we can dive into some of the things that you do to create the kind of culture that you want to work in with your team.

[00:33:33] Aaron Fearne: Yeah. I want my teams to have, I want the players to feel like that they own the team. They have ownership of the team. It’s not dictated team by me. Yeah, I’m going to put some things in place. Like, so what we’re going to run and offensively and defensively and that’s how I’d like us to play.

And we would have numerous meetings as a team. And this happens at all levels for the teams I’ve coached under eighteens under 19 years, the on national program, all the way up to the Cairns Taipans and men that are 32 years old, all the way to 22 years old. And that, and this is kind of what happens with Australian New Zealand sports. Yeah, cause that’s obviously what I’m very familiar with and at all different codes of the game games in Australia, from Australian rules, football to rugby union, to cricket rugby union to basketball you know, you have obviously a figurehead, your coach And then you develop your leadership group.

And I want the leadership group to monitor and enforce and discipline when things are not followed the way that we agree as a team, not I’ve told them, this is what we’re doing. These are it’s old behavior base. It’s like what acceptable behaviors do we have to live by, to be a successful team and to be a great human being and and represent our city or represent yourself, your family, your teammates at an extremely high level, what behaviors are acceptable for that to happen?

And we meet, we talk, we whiteboard, we agree. We debate, and we come up with. You know, and I can get into it a little bit in a minute about exactly what we do, but those types of things get put on the table and agreed to, and then the team, the team monitors that and meet on a regular basis to see how they’re going and how we can be better and how we can problem solve and, and you know, build a culture that allows us to be successful.

[00:35:57] Mike Klinzing: So when you go through and you’re working through that process with your team, obviously you have some things in mind that you feel are important to you. And maybe there are times where your team brings something to that table that maybe you weren’t expecting. So just how do those, how do you steer those meetings, those sessions to make sure that.

The players get ownership of it, but you’re also creating the kind of culture and the kinds of behaviors get up on that list that you want to make sure end up there.

[00:36:33] Aaron Fearne: Yeah. So there’s a process we go through. I talk when I do coaches stuff you know, zoom so on and so forth. Talk about this all the time.

Like I feel coaches spend way too much time on offense and defense and not enough time on culture. And to me it should be a third, a third and third. Cause I think if your culture, if your culture, if you’re, if you’re on offense, if your coach is poor, I mean, does it really matter what you run offense and defensively?

Could you just not going to be very good anyways? So I think it got to be on point and successful teams that I’ve had have had phenomenal culture and there’s teams that have their cultures just not quite being right. For whatever reason and you just stumble at the end and or you don’t get there at all.

So, you know, there’s a process we go through. So we meet as a team and this is everybody players, coaches, support staff, you know that in a circle, that’s going to be with you on the journey. You know, it gets the question that’s put out there first as well. How do we want to be seen? So how do we want our fans to see us?

How do we want our family to see us, sponsors see us, you know, how do we want the opposition to see us? And there’ll be certain words that will come up like, and I’ll just give you examples over the years. Like what we want to be seen as being United. We want to be seen as being strong. We want to be seen as being thankful, you know, just words like that. So they become our trademark words online. I’m like, okay, well that’s pretty, pretty simple. Right. Well, how do we want to be seen as being strong? Okay, well, what are some behaviors that demonstrate that we are strong and this is where they break up into groups and go away and talk about, and, and brainstorm on some behaviors that will demonstrate that we are, you know, how do we want to be scene is that we look strong, strong, physically strong mentally, here are some behaviors that represent that.

So then the three groups, three or four groups will come back. Age group will go up onto the whiteboard and write up these behaviors. If there’s double ops, they, you know, they just tick it off, so on and so forth. So then we sit there and then. Well, no, we don’t like this. We like this Bader of so-and-so full.

It goes around the room. He, and this could go on for 15, 20 minutes, maybe even longer. And you cut that list of 15, 10, 15 things, 15, 15 behaviors down to three. Well, these are the three behaviors that you can clearly demonstrate and see that show that we are strong. And you’ve got to do that for three or four different words.

You know, we do that here in Charlotte, we have our trademarked words and then we have behaviors that we hold each other accountable to demonstrate that we are thankful. And now we want to serve each other and we have great unity and passion and so on and so forth. So when that gets established, It is, then comes back to what I talked about earlier.

Now the team has to monitor police it and hold each other, super accountable to it. And they’ll debrief after practices, debrief after games. And you know, coaches are not really involved in these meetings because it’s my game. Like I said earlier, it’s player driven. Because I want, you know, especially with younger guys, it develops leaders.

It teaches you to teaches you from within your peers to be responsible for one another as it would with a 32 year old man. And those guys monitor those different types of behaviors. So, you know, that’s, that’s one part of it. An individual behavior thing that we do to build culture is something that we, that we call start, stop, keep.

And those again are just behaviors. There are behaviors that we all do, and we can just obviously talk about basketball, but within the basketball world, there are behaviors that we need to stop doing. We need to stop doing, and we need to keep doing, to allow our teams to be successful. And this is I’ve found this to be extremely confronting and very powerful.

You know, I’ve seen guys get really emotional about it. And so how the process works is, again, the groups break up into three or four different groups. I’ll use myself as an example, coach for him. We’ll walk out of the room and he’ll have a sheet of paper with behaviors on there that start, stop, keep error behaviors.

I need to start doing, stop doing and keeping. While I’m doing that. The groups in the room talking about me as well and the behaviors they way they want me to start, stop and keep doing, come back into the room. They write their behaviors from the different groups up onto the whiteboard. And then I go up and write down the behaviors that I need to start.

Stop. Keep a lot of them are very similar. Some guys are just so far off there. It’s, you know, sometimes it’s embarrassing and it becomes extremely confronting because it’s it’s about you. And if you don’t change these behaviors you know, some guys talk too much. Some guys don’t talk at all. Well, it’s a behavior.

If you don’t talk at all, well, it’s pretty hard to play the game. If you don’t talk at all, it’s a behavior that you need to change. And that’s just a simple one, but You know, it gets confronting and then he just becomes an agreement. And and again, they monitor those things to throughout the year and, you know, the, the protein proteins I’ve coached back in Australia would debrief after every game on that stuff.

How’s that culture. How do we feel? We were saying during that game, are there things that we need to address improve on keep building on and then, and then individually, you know, they’d go around the room and go, well, you know, I felt like I did a good job with this, you know, and I need to keep doing that.

You, I, you know, the stuff that we still talked about that I needed to stop doing, I’m not quite there with that. Gauze would comment to that player about that. Here are some examples of where you did a good job. You know, here’s some behaviors that we talked about that you need to stop doing because it hurts your group.

It hurts your performance. It’s just been really powerful stuff with the teams I’ve coached over the years. And you know, we talk about that stuff here. Cause I think it builds your character and you’re in a team sport. It’s not about you. If you want to be an individual, go play tennis or golf or something like that.

You’re playing a team game where all the pieces are hugely important and sometimes your role is not quite what you want it to be, but at the certain point of the season or the season, that’s what your role is going to be. So then that’s another part of it, but what’s your role. And I don’t want to dictate the role to each player.

So, you know, we talk about what the role should be from both my side as a coach and a coaching staff and a player. And then, you know, we meet, we meet in the middle. I think some coaches put huge expectations on some players that are just not capable of performing at that time. At that point. Some guys, one at a huge role in shoot the ball every time.

Well, no, that’s not the role you’re going to play. So you need to curve that down a little bit. So, you know, there are a lot of hair, a lot of layers to building culture and the programs that I’ve coached. And it does take a lot of time, but it’s, like I said earlier, like you go spend the 30th time, in my opinion, working on your culture that you reinforce every day at practice in games, in video sessions.

And when those teams have been very good at that, it’s a hugely enjoyable experience. You build relationships with players that I still have to this day that I keep in contact after years and years of years ago, coaching different guys. Could you just not dictating to them? You’re treating them like a human and, and it’s very respectful and really sucks.

[00:45:11] Mike Klinzing: When you’re doing that. And I’m picturing in my head and trying to figure out and work through that spending a third of the time on culture. Third on offense, a third on your defense as you’re going through, and you’re planning your individual practices so day to day, and you’re building that culture piece of it into a daily practice, but you’re also building it in across the scope of the entire season and kind of figuring out how we’re going to get those things across to our players.

And obviously you’ve already mentioned a couple with the start stop, keep, and the other different activities that you’ve already talked about. But when you build that into the daily practice plan, how intentional do you have to be about making sure that you touch on those key cultural pieces, those key things that you want to make sure.

That you get done on a daily basis. Cause I know that as you get into a season, that it becomes very easy for coaches to the first thing that gets pushed to shut or pushed aside. Right? Usually Aaron is those culture, those extra things that coaches considered to be extra things. Whereas what you’re saying, and I think what most successful coaches realize is that that culture piece is central to your success.

But yet we know that sometimes coaches get caught up and that gets pushed aside. So how do you go about making sure that you build that into your daily practice planning and what does that process look like? As you’re sitting down to write a plaque practice plan or contribute to a practice plan as an assistant coach, like you are at UNC Charlotte.

[00:46:55] Aaron Fearne:  Oh yeah. If I took some words like, you know, disciplined, Ty. United, you know, those three words, for example. Well, we would have talked about some behaviors that demonstrate being disciplined beyond time hustle to drills. Don’t short cut cuts. You need to make, you know, correct pivoting, just all those little things that require unbelievable discipline and just coaching that stuff on the run at a really high level.

But it’s just not me. And that’s what I’m trying to say. It’s just not me coaching that. It’s the players coaching each other on that stuff. So that just becomes kind of like a norm behavior you know, building a practice plan. We’ll if we will, we want to be seen as being tough. Well, we better do some drills it to build toughness.

To be able to demonstrate that behavior. So there’ll be, have to be certain drills. And, and when I talk about toughness, just not physical toughness, it’s mental toughness, body language when you fatigued, when you’re dealing with adverse situations, bad, referring your on the road, crowds getting after you you’re down 20, you know, you, your body language still stays positive because things can turn like recognizing and holding each other accountable to those different types of things.

So building that into practice and coaching that stuff again on the run, both myself, my staff, the players towards each other. I guess that’s how, that’s how I would on a day to day incorporate those behaviors that we want to be seen by. And incorporate them into developing game plans, practice plans day after day to be successful on where you want to try and end up.

And it takes a lot of work, you know, like you talked about it, like that stuff just gets pushed, pushed to the side. Sometimes. Most coaches, you know, a lot of coaches just will just yell play harder. Okay. Well, what does that mean? You know, what does that mean? You know, what behaviors do you have to demonstrate to do that?

So you know, you’ve got to incorporate certain drills, but I just think it’s a lot of recognizing that stuff on the run and holding guys accountable to the stuff that we’ve agreed to. Kind of in the early part of the pre-season leading into the real official game. One, those things get put in place.

And it’s just a real monitoring thing day after day.

[00:49:39] Mike Klinzing: I know the answer to this question is going to vary depending upon the individual, but I think it leads to an interesting discussion. When you bring players into your program at UNC Charlotte, or when you brought players into your team with the tie pans and they’re new to this confrontation, this having these difficult conversations, this holding other players accountable, how long does it take for a player?

And again, I understand it varies, but when you think about having someone get comfortable with. The idea that they’re going to have to confront a teammate and that they’re going to be confronted and they’re going to have to hold someone accountable and they’re going to be held accountable. Not everybody comes from that type of program that has that same expectation.

So when you bring a player in, how long does that process take for them to understand it? And is there anything that you do to kind of help them along the way to make sure that they understand the value? Are there side conversations? Let’s say with freshmen who you bring in and say, look, this is what we’re going to expect.

Maybe you’ve already had that conversation on the recruiting trail. Just talk a little bit about how you bring players into that cultural system that you’ve set up.

[00:51:06] Aaron Fearne: Yeah. I guess there’ll be two levels to me, like in Australia with the, with the Taipans, you know, coach guys like Travis Trice come from Michigan state, Scotty Wilbur can come from flat.

That same year Scottie Wilbekin plight who came from Florida. I had Torrey Craig who came from USC upstate. You’re talking about two opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to high, major, final four type teams that Scotty Wilbekin played for with Tory Pite for a low level division one program at the time.

And those two both came to our program as rookies coming onto a team that had some older experienced guys that were fantastic people, but have been part of our culture for, you know, three or four years with younger guys. And when your cultures that strong with a whole group of players and you.

You know, pieces to it, those guys conform pretty quickly. Because I know you’ve been successful and they are good people and they’re not disrespecting you. They’re not, they’re definitely not doing that to you when it comes to understanding the acceptable behavior norms of our program. You know, Scotty come from Florida.

I mean, he, you know, it was a bubble NBA guy. Tori was, you know a rookie coming from upstate where he did everything for that program. And he came into a program where will that wasn’t required. And his role had to change drastically. And he came off the bench. And now that season we went 21 and seven and went to the NBL finals.

And got, you know, unfortunately got beat by the New Zealand breakers. But to answer your question, like they, they conform, you know, with some little bumpy where there’s some bumps on the road early on, you know, you know, cause we do some things differently when you know, ice bath, recovery and pool recoveries, and we’re gonna meet at this time and you can do this and you can’t do that.

And but always just felt if you explained to them the why, which we did and they understood why we do this. There was a clear understanding and just being really truthful with them. And when they get into those meetings and I’ve found this here at Charlotte is I actually find the players find it very refreshing you know, here you get a bit of a sense of. I want you to do this and do this, do this hold up, you know, kind of been dictated to, in a sense where they, they come to these meetings that we do.

And some of the new faces are like, oh, this is pretty cool. You know, like, you know, we’re actually getting a say on what we want and how we want to, how we want to be seen. And they get into it. And the debate, the debates that go on are really interesting, and you get great dialogue and you do get some stuff that you haven’t even thought of, because, you know, with the transfer portal, these days, you getting guys from all different programs around the country and they bring a lot of those experiences to your program.

The stuff that they have liked, they have. And you meet, you meet on common ground after you do these meetings. And look, you get some guys that just never figure it out. You do, or they just don’t last very long within your program that happens both professionally and at the college level. Because there’s a level of behavior that the Core group has established that knows.

Right. And those that don’t conform to that, or they don’t, they don’t hang on and that you feel left out and they actually move themselves on. So and that’s happened at the professional level with the teams I’ve had as well. So yeah, I’ll hope that that kind of answers a question that way.

[00:55:17] Mike Klinzing: Absolutely it does. I think that you make a great point that getting it established. Is the key and that’s something that doesn’t happen overnight. And as you’ve said, numerous times, it takes a lot of investment. It takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of buy-in, but once you have that established, then as you said, once you bring players into that program and they know that it’s been successful, then they’re much more likely to conform see the value in it.

And as you also said, sharing the why with players, I think is something that if you go back to probably the early days of your playing career, there weren’t a whole lot of coaches that were sharing that why it was much more of the you’re going to do it because we’re doing it. Not because you’re going to ask me questions about the why.

And it was really something that I think about my own playing career and I’m 51 years old and I don’t think. Coach at any level ever said to me, this is why we’re doing this. It was just presented to me, this is what we’re doing. And you really didn’t have much of a choice or a say or anything in that along those lines.

And obviously coaching has changed now, but by establishing a good culture, you make it much easier to bring those new players into the fold and get them to buy into the program. And what it is that you’re doing.

[00:56:45] Aaron Fearne: I mean, let’s take the spurs back in the, you know, the Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, that era David Robinson, that era, like we know in the basketball world that the spurs have an unbelievable culture, right?

Certain they recruit certain players, they draft certain players. They bring, you know, when they draft, when they trade, they’re bringing in certain people that they feel will fit their culture. Now those players, when they get there, think they know what the culture is, but they don’t until they really get there.

Well, that’s no different than, than, you know, some of the programs that I’ve had as well, but, and there are a number of phenomenal programs in this country at all levels that have amazing cultures. And it’s talked about, and it’s established and players come into those programs, both professionally and on the college level there are phenomenal high school programs, AAU programs in this country that have that stuff, you know, you know, when you’ve been part of a great team, you know, I mean, I know when I’ve played on great teams.

I know when I’ve played on poor teams and that a lot of it’s just been a culture. It’s that? And this is what I find the beauty of coaching is that the mission for me is to get that cohesion and connection between every member of the team for a common goal. And it’s so difficult to achieve. I mean, so difficult to achieve takes so much work because it’s just not about what main to main defense we’re doing and what onboard coverage we’re doing or what we’re running the flex offense.

And this is going to win a championship. It’s not about that. Like Michael Jordan could have gone and played the triangle, the flex, the flow, whatever it wouldn’t have mattered it. But again, those teams too had just done. Connection with each other and, and a culture that an, a behavior that was required if they wanted to be successful.

And I think that’s the same with any team.

[00:59:10] Mike Klinzing: How did the opportunity for you to come to UNC Charlotte? How did that opportunity get to you?

[00:59:19] Aaron Fearne: So I coached Aaron Baynes in high school in Australia. And at the time coach Sanchez was an assistant coach at Washington state. Got a very close relationship with Ben Johnson who was at Washington state at the time with Tony Bennett and Dick Bennett.

And Ben was recruiting Aaron Baynes and. You know, I had a good re an outstanding relationship with Ben and, you know, just through the process, I felt like that that was going to be a good situation for Aaron to develop and be coached really, really hard by, by Dick Bennett at the time. And then Tony and just over those years, you know, you just develop that relationship with the coaching staff and, and Ron was on that staff at the time.

And, you know, we’d kept in contact over the years when he’d gone with Tony to Virginia and, you know, he was recruiting players in Australia and he just happened to be recruiting Cody Statman who’s now at Virginia. And yeah, a couple of months after Cody had committed to Virginia, he’d end up getting this, the shallot opportunity and.

Asked me if I’d be interested in coming to the U S and being part of a staff obviously a pretty big decision. You know, I’ve got two kids at the time. I had two kids in high school in Australia and I’d have to move high schools, move to the other side of the world, my wife’s American. So it was an opportunity for her to come back to the us.

And so we made that, made that call. And here we are. So it’s been very different, you know, coaching professional basketball in Australia for a club that was as I mentioned earlier, you know, Not batting at the, at the same level as some of the bigger clubs in Australia, but definitely punching above our weight when it came to playing and competing.

And just coaching pros is just totally different. You know, you’re getting the cream of the crop per se because they’re pros and you know, co just college basketball, just coaching younger athletes come. Some of these guys are, you know, 17 years old coming out of high school. Their basketball journey hasn’t even started.

I mean, they’re going to improve so much more after they leave college. It’s just us trying to help them set themselves up for that next part of their life. And so that’s been very different for me, but as we mentioned earlier, Going back to coaching. I underwrite teens coaching under 23.

Semi-professional like of, I’d had many years of coaching, those types of players, and many of them that have gone on to college in the U S and moved on to play professionally in the Australian MBL. So that helped me transition into this. And I’ve been a head coach and I’ve been an assistant coach. I’ve been a second assistant coach and just all those experiences help you transition around the world at different levels.

And really enjoying this opportunity, which, you know, when we inherited this program, it was in a tough position. And, you know, we’ve had to work very hard to improve it, and it still needs a lot of work to keep improving it. But it’s definitely heading in the right direction. And a lot of these things that we’re talking about, we’re putting in place.

And it’s been a, been a really fun experience. Definitely very valuable. And now you’re always learning the game

[01:03:01] Mike Klinzing: From a recruiting standpoint when you guys are out on the road and you’re looking for players that are going to fit into what you’re trying to do, obviously there’s a certain level of talent.

That’s required to be able to play college basketball at the division one level. But what are some things that you’re looking at, maybe from an intangible standpoint that you guys really zero in on that make you feel like a player is going to be a good fit? For your program and you and I talked at our pre podcast call about the fact that recruiting high school players may not become the norm anymore, just because of the way the transfer portal is.

And the way the rules are set up at this point. But just thinking about recruiting and I guess mostly focused on high school players, but just thinking about even guys that are in the transfer portal, what are you looking for from an intangible standpoint for, from guys that you want to bring into your program?

[01:03:55] Aaron Fearne: Priority Number one is just character. That’s the first thing we’re talking to coaches, a few high school coaches, coaches at coach against these guys. Just how do they carry themselves? How do they behave? It’s all about behavior for us. So it just comes back to your character. Priority number one, number two is just your competitive spirit.

You know, your toughness, you, you know, just your will to compete. Because if you’re a great person and you’re willing to compete and really work cause you want to get better, you know, we’ll help coach you up and, and grow your skill level and grow your understanding of the game. You know, your willingness to share, not a big, big trademark word for us now, program as servant hood, you know, like are you prepared to serve?

Are you prepared to help, help people, help teammates? You know, another one that’s being really thankful for thankful, for all opportunities, you know, both positive and challenging ones. Those are the types of traits and behaviors that we’re really looking for. Now, there are certain skill level things that you need.

And you talked about that you gotta have a certain level of skill to be, You know, the high major, the mid-major the low major. You just have certain skills for those types of levels. And, you know, obviously they’re very important for our program too, but, and probably the last one is just really understanding how to apply it, like play the game and the way that we wanted plate.

Now, obviously other coaches have different ways of wanting to play, but within our program, no, we’re a ball movement, player movement, cutting sharing program. And do you have the understanding of that off dribble penetration in the half court transition push working off on both screens bull comes into the post.

Do you have an understanding of the game? The spacing where your teammates are so on and so forth. So those are types of, those are the types of things that we really value. You know, everyone loves shooting and athleticism and length, and you know, you definitely shooting is very important for sure. And something that we really value too.

So, but it’s hard to tick all those boxes, but I’ve coached some guys over my time that have been extremely talented players, but haven’t been great teammates and you just don’t have success with that. I’ve coached teams that lack talent and definitely not as talented as some other teams, but the culture and the connectiveness is just first-class and is enabled us to be really successful.

And I think you see. For example, in the NCAA tournament, when you get some of these low major or mid major programs go out there and outplay some really high level, well-resourced super talented, high major programs. Well, to me, it comes back to teamwork and culture, and that’s the stuff that’s really important and not think you can be well, you can reach the top of the mountain with that type of mindset and build of what you want to get there. And, but you got to work as we’ve talked about multiple times on this show, you just, you got to work really hard at it every day.

[01:07:41] Mike Klinzing: I think that you said it earlier, that, you know, when you play on a good team, a team that’s together, a team where everybody.

Working hard to be a great teammate and you have a good culture. And conversely, if you’ve ever played or coached a team that doesn’t have that, just the experience of going to practice day in and day out with a team that isn’t together, that doesn’t have the right culture that can be draining. That can be exhausting.

And I think as we’ve said multiple times, by putting in that time to build the right culture in the long run, you’re going to end up creating an environment. That’s going to allow you to be successful. And as we said, you have to have a certain amount of talent. You can, you can have the greatest culture in the world.

If you have players who should be playing division three basketball, and they’re trying to play division one basketball, but, but I think you gave a great example. When you talk NCAA tournament, you say these lower major programs that pull upsets with players. On paper aren’t as talented, but yet, because they play together because they’re great teammates because they have culture.

They can sometimes upset those teams that maybe have more raw talent on paper, but don’t have the same type of culture that another team does. And I think that’s a great lesson to be learned out there for coaches at any level that look what you want to do. And I think all coaches would agree with this is that whatever 10 players you have on your team or 15 players you have on your team or whatever, bigger, bigger roster is your goal as a coach every year should be able to get the mat to be able to try to get the maximum out of that roster.

And it doesn’t matter if that roster is the most talented roster in the country, or it’s the least talented roster in the country. Your job should be to try to get the most. Out of that roster to maximize what each individual player can be and maximize what your team can be. And I think by building the right culture, that’s really what we’re talking about here is maximizing what you have.

And obviously there’s recruiting and there’s all different kinds of things that go into who you have on your roster. But ultimately when they want to practice opens up, if you can build the right culture and you can maximize the team that you have as a coach, you’re going to have a lot of fun. Your players are going to have a lot of fun.

If that’s the kind of situation that you’re building. I think that’s the, that’s the type of environment that all of us, whether we’re coaches, whether we’re players, that’s what we want to be in is a culture that we enjoy being a part of. And when you enjoy being a part of it, it’s going to ultimately lead to success and more wins on the score.

But I think that’s something that, as we’ve said, a bunch of times, Coaches sometimes can push that aside because they got to get in that one extra out of bounds player, they got to do 10 more minutes of scouting. And so they tend to push off that culture stuff. So we’re, we’re here to advocate for coaches out there and get, get your culture stuff.

Right. And you’re going to end up a lot more successful in the long run.

[01:10:55] Aaron Fearne:  I’ve coached games and I’ve coached teams where I walk away as a coach losing a game and not making the playoffs or whatever over the course of the season. And I’ve walked out of there and gone, you know, for a game and I’ve walked down there and go, man, we played hard.

And while we played well together, we just on the night, just weren’t good enough to beat that team. They just had more talent or they just did that better than us with better talent. Like, and you’ve gotta be so satisfied with that and not get caught up with the w and the L. Maximizing the effort of the collective group and working on the things that you’re working on every day.

And I’ve walked away at the end of the season and gone, I mean, the last year I coached with the Taipan, like we were, we didn’t make the playoffs and I walked out of there and the effort that those guys gave and the con and the and the, just the connectiveness that they had, I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

Like it was phenomenal and it’s enjoyable. It’s satisfying. It’s satisfying. The players know cause you, like I said, you know, when you play on a great with great teammates, cause you have a great relationship. You know, relationships with your teammates and with your coaches. And, you know, you’ve got to have a great culture with your coaching staff too, and it’s really challenging and it’s, it should be, that is what we’re in this for?

You got to embrace that. You got to enjoy  the competitive side of it. And if you can accomplish that as a coach out there with your team and with your staff and you get to the end of the year and you, you know it and you feel it well, you know, you’re hitting in the right direction. Like was, if it’s the other way, then you know, it’s not right.

And it’s, you’ve got to make some changes and some improvement. And if you do that, then the games really enjoyable and it builds great character. And. I’ve had numerous younger guys back in Australia, come up to me on the street or when I’m out at a restaurant or whatever, and come up and thank me for those years of coaching them as juniors and the behaviors and the discipline that we had within our program has helped them in their life with their work situation, with their, just with the home life.

I mean, that’s just so rewarding to hear that stuff that you can make an impact on people’s lives like that and through coaching again, but that’s the power of sport.

[01:13:53] Mike Klinzing: It absolutely is. I think that that’s really something. When I think about what coaching is all about, that impact that goes beyond just the basketball court and it extends into players’ lives.

That’s really what we’re talking about here. When we’re talking about coaching and the ability to use. A game that we all love to be able to impact the people that we come in contact with through the game as coaches is really, I think the most powerful thing that we have as coaches has been a great conversation.

Aaron, before we wrap it up, I want to ask you one more question. It’s a two-parter first part is when you look ahead over the next year or two, what’s the biggest challenge that you see on the horizon for yourself and for your program. And then number two, when you wake up in the morning and you think about what you do on a daily basis, what brings you the most joy about being a basketball coach?

So your biggest challenge and your biggest joy moving forward?

[01:14:58] Aaron Fearne: My biggest challenge, I think been a, been an international coach in this country. And trying to break into an opportunity to be a head coach. I mean, I feel like, I feel like I have the experience the knowledge you know, I come from a, obviously a different part of the world into this country and getting an opportunity to coach at, you know, a good level.

I think that’s a big challenge. But definitely something that, you know, you aspire to achieve that that’s what I, that’s what I’m hopeful for. Could I, could I potentially in end up overseas somewhere back in Australia and New Zealand anywhere around the world. Yeah. I’m open to that too. But so I think that’s definitely a big challenge and just breaking some of those barriers down here a little bit, and obviously the NBAs tried to do that with some international coaches as well, but that’s been very challenging too.

I feel that’s a bit the same on in the college and the college world. But how you go to a spa to achieve that. And so, yeah, that’s definitely something that, oh, well, I’m looking forward to the second part of the question you know, when I wake up in the morning, you know, to me, it’s about what, you know, we’ve got a game on Friday and it’s about preparing for that and preparing myself as a staff preparing preparing our players That’s priority number one.

Cause we, we as we, as coaches have got to put them in positions to be successful and we’ve got to educate them on what that takes to be successful when it comes to preparation. The scout, the video scout, the paper scout, the skill development, the stuff that they need to do to keep building on day after day.

I mentioned this earlier, just preparing them and making sure that they’re not surprised by anything. Because there are a lot of different things that can come at you real quick and you want to be prepared for that stuff. It is no greater satisfaction for me than having guys put in the work.

And it may not happen for you Friday night when we. It may not happen for another month, but you just gotta keep putting in that work every day. And a lot of levels of preparing diet, hydration, everything to be the, you know, to be an ultimate athlete. But then when that moment comes and you, and they have that success, man, that’s rewarding.

Like that gets me so excited when I see that stuff. And it actually disappoints me the other way when I see players that don’t do that and think it’s just going to happen because you can’t cheat each other. You just can’t cheat the game. Like the Jordans, the Kobe Bryant’s so on and so forth the world, they just didn’t show up.

Like, they are like, they put in amazing work and we hear the stories about Kobe and Jordan, you know, how demanding they were, but on the teammates, but also just on themselves or that’s why they, you know, LeBron James, like the work that they put in the investment, they put into their bodies and, and understand the game.

That’s why the another greatest ever cause they put in the work, they just didn’t show up. And that’s what a lot of these guys don’t understand. You know, like you got to put in a lot of work and can’t cheat the game cause it will get you then you realize your potential. And I think it’s as coaches, it’s our responsibility to try and educate them as best we can.

Some of them really grab it with two hands and run with it. Some of them don’t. But when, when, when those guys do Greg. And work and have succeed. Yeah. To me personally, man, that’s so enjoyable and serve rewarding and that’s what you wake up each day trying to achieve that.

[01:19:16] Mike Klinzing: That’s a terrific answer.

And it’s so true. I think, as you’ve said, the ability to have that kind of impact and to get players, to see who they are and what they can become and maybe push them beyond where they could get on their own is really what coaching’s all about. Aaron, before we get out, I want to give you a chance to share how people can reach out to you, whether you want to share social media, email website, just how they can follow you, how they can follow Charlotte men’s basketball, and then I’ll jump back in and wrap things up.

[01:19:47] Aaron Fearne: Yeah. Well, I mean, you can you’re going to follow me on Twitter, just @AaronFearne14 you know, just found the Charlotte men’s basketball. On Twitter, on the internet you know, it is a number of different things out there on YouTube that I’ve talked the game and definitely like to share the game.

I’m not one of those coaches that try and keep all the secrets to myself. You know, I think it’s important to share the game and, and help people grow and help them develop have coaches, you know, contact me all the time about different things that I talk about in the coaching world and have questions for me and I’ll get back to you the best I can.

Looking forward to hearing from people. And I really appreciate all the coaches out there that put in the long hours to coach. It’s really difficult and. It’s really challenging in this country to definitely lots of different angles that you have to deal with coaching these players and but put the work in, believe in what you do you know, be confident with what you do, but don’t be arrogant about it.

And if you do that at a really high level and be consistent with it, then you’re going to have success. Your teams are, and those players ultimately will too. So yeah. Wish nothing but the best for everybody out there.

[01:21:07] Mike Klinzing: That’s well said, Aaron, we cannot thank you enough for taking the time out of your schedule to jump out with us.

Really appreciate it. And to everyone out there. Thanks for listening. And we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.