Matt Monroe

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Twitter – @coachmmonroe

Matt Monroe is the Head Boys’ Basketball Coach at Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, Illinois.  Before coming to Saint Ignatius, Monroe spent eight years as the head sophomore and lead varsity assistant boys’ basketball coach at Saint Patrick High School in Chicago. Previously, Matt spent time as an assistant basketball coach at Niles West High School, Vernon Hills High School, and Deerfield High School. He also coached club basketball for twelve years and was a student-manager for the DePaul University men’s basketball team. In addition to his coaching duties, Coach Monroe serves on the Executive Board of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association.

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Be prepared to take some notes as you listen to this episode with Matt Monroe, Head Boys’ Basketball Coach at St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, Illinois.

What We Discuss with Matt Monroe

  • Developing a love for the game through his Dad who was a grammar school coach
  • His classmates predicting in 8th grade that he would become a basketball coach
  • Helping his Dad coach his brother’s team when he was a senior in high school
  • The moment when he knew for sure that coaching was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life
  • As a freshman he coached AAU, the Deerfield Feeder Program, and served as a student manager in college
  • There’s no job too big or too small for a student manager
  • Why he chose high school coaching over college coaching
  • Turning down a head coaching opportunity early in his career to take an assistant position at St. Patrick’s High School so he could continue to learn and grow
  • The role that mentors have played in his coaching career
  • “Coaching is much more than what happens on the court.”
  • “The mission of our basketball program is much bigger than basketball.”
  • “We are not afraid in our program, myself included, to put in the extra time, to go above and beyond what it takes to be successful and to not just work hard, but to embrace and love the work that goes into it.”
  • “Everything we do is aimed at trying to develop the whole person.”
  • The “Be More” Series that he developed to talk on issues such as leadership, faith, communication, how to handle adversity that gives his players the tools that they need to be successful, not just on the court or in the classroom, but beyond that, when they graduate from school.”
  • “There’s not a day that goes by where I’m not spending multiple hours doing something to try to make our program better.”
  • How he views his role in the college recruiting process as a high school coach
  • Working with AAU coaches to create the best opportunities for his players
  • Being a servant leader that puts the kids first
  • The process for bringing freshman players into his program at St. Ignatius
  • The value of senior-led practices
  • Providing leadership opportunities to players
  • Weekly meetings each spring with the next year’s seniors to help him understand their experience
  • Putting team building activities on the calendar to make sure they happen
  • Using the games based approach to practice and being intentional about what to focus on
  • Providing feedback to players on the sideline when they come out of a drill, rather that stopping the drill to provide that feedback
  • “What type of feedback is going to benefit this player or this team, the most in that given situation?”
  • Practice planning and getting the most from your time on the floor
  • “We are a learning and a teaching program and we want everyone in our program to always be constantly evolving and growing and improving.”
  • Developing roles for assistant coaches and giving them off-season projects
  • Handling the off-court responsibilities as a head coach
  • Making sure you know your why amid expectations and pressure
  • Staying humble and hungry after you’ve had success

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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 tonight, and we are pleased to welcome from St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, Illinois, the head boys’ basketball coach, Matt Monroe. Matt, welcome to the Hoop Heads Pod.

[00:00:15] Matt Monroe: Thanks. Thanks a ton for having me on here.  It’s an absolute honor to be able to join you guys.

[00:00:20] Mike Klinzing: Well, we are excited that Nick LoGalbo reached out to us and said we should get you on the podcast and talk to you, which is exactly what we’re going to do tonight. We want to dig into all the great things that you’ve been able to do in the game of basketball.

I want to start out by going back in time to when you were a kid, tell us about some of your first experiences with the game of basketball. What are some of your earliest memories?

[00:00:41] Matt Monroe: Absolutely. To be honest basketball has been a huge part of my life, really, since before I can remember, my dad was a grammar school coach in Chicago in the seventies before I was born.

And when I was really young, some of my earliest memories were joining him for some of the games that he was coaching. When I was old enough, I’d [00:01:00] worked the scoreboard or do the score book, or just kind of sit on the bench and hang out with the team. And when I got old enough to start playing, I tried to play on as many different teams as I possibly could.

Some of them were coached by my dad and others were not. Whenever there was an opportunity to play basketball, I certainly took it. So I will tell you I was not the most talented kid or the most athletic kid, and I kinda knew early on that I loved basketball as a passion of mine, but coaching was probably more in my future than playing.

So even since I was eight years old, I’ve always wanted to be a basketball coach. Even in eighth grade in our school yearbook. They predicted everybody. Can you share occupations and most people were going to be doctors, lawyers, police, officers, firemen. In my eighth grade year book, they predicted that I would be a basketball coach and it’s literally the only path that I ever thought that I would take.

But when I was young, I wanted to try to see through the, the playing part as long as I possibly could. And I played everywhere I [00:02:00] could and, and going into my freshman year in high school, I ended up breaking my wrist on my shooting hand, and I really kind of struggled at tryouts in my recovery. I didn’t make the team.

My freshman year, I ended up spending a lot of the winter playing competitively with the CYO basketball team that my church and I geared up to try out again my sophomore year and at tryouts, I broke my wrist again. So I ended up not being able to play high school basketball at all in an organized sense outside of CYO.

And it was really devastating to me because I was absolutely 100% passionate about the game and I loved playing. And my junior year, I kind of took a step away from the game. I didn’t try out again. And I kind of focused on other hobbies and other interests, and I knew I couldn’t stay away that long.

And when I became a senior in high school, I ended up graduating a little bit early and I was working at game stop. Not doing much else sleeping in late [00:03:00] hanging out with my friends and my dad was still coaching at the time he was coaching. My brother’s team, my brother was in seventh grade. Are a local high schools, feeder organization.

And my dad offered to give me his salary if I would just help him out with coaching. And that’s kinda how I ended up back in the game when I was a senior in high school and kind of began my journey as a coach. Wait, wait, wait,

[00:03:21] Mike Klinzing: Mike and jumping. You’re jumping in you’re in early three minutes, 28 seconds that you worked at.

Good job, man. Worked

[00:03:27] Matt Monroe: at game stop. Is that what I heard you worked at game stop? I did. I’ve heard. That was up until I became a coach. That was my longest tenure job working at GameStop. Now this was like back in, like, I don’t know. I don’t know what, what year was that? Matt? This was like, Let’s just say I was there for the release of Sega Dreamcast a bad day.

I know. I got you. That’s that’s 2000 set up.

[00:03:49] Mike Klinzing: up. Is that a video game guys? Yeah. Yeah. It’s a system. It’s a system, man. It’s a system. It’s a system I’m jealous.

[00:03:56] Matt Monroe: I always wanted to work at game stop. I never did. I wanted to work there [00:04:00] primarily because I wanted the discount anyways. That’s that’s all I want to say.  That’s pretty cool job now.

[00:04:07] Mike Klinzing: All right. So what do you remember from that first experience coaching? What was it like when you first stood in front of a group of kids and you’re holding your whistle or you’re holding your clipboard or you’re trying to figure out what you’re going to do. What do you remember about some of those first months?

[00:04:25] Matt Monroe: You know, the first thing was I didn’t really know what to expect. Even though I had wanted to be a basketball coach since I was eight, I made it to take my dead Nike championship, basketball clinic notepads and court diagrams and make my own plays even when I was in grammar school. But once you actually go and do it, it becomes real.

And so when I first started I was a senior in high school. I was 18 years old. I had never coached before and I hadn’t really played organized basketball for a little bit. So I was nervous. So the first couple of practices, I kind of just stood off to the side and didn’t [00:05:00] really say much. And kind of as the season went on, my dad found ways to manufacture opportunities for me to at least get a little bit more involved vocally.

He’d have me. You have a few viewpoints during different segments that practice, or give a short little speech at the beginning of games, but I really kind of found my footing at the last tournament of my first year of coaching. This year Deerfield basketball program played in a yearly tournament in Madison, Wisconsin.

It was the big tournament. Everyone looked forward to it. It was our version of the NCAA tournament. And I’ll never forget we’re playing a school. And we ended up being down by about 15 or 16 at halftime. And my dad thought it was a great opportunity. Kind of like in the movie Hoosiers, when Gene Hackman got himself thrown out of the game on purpose coach, the team, my dad felt, you know what, I’m going to have my son Matt, go in there and give the halftime, get a halftime speech.

And I was really proud of it and yeah. We ended up coming back and winning the game. And it was [00:06:00] not because of any type of halftime speech, but it was a lot of fun and a great moment. We ended up going on to win that tournament. And I remember driving with my dad back from Madison back to Deerfield, a Northern suburb of Chicago.

And I told my dad, this is what I want to do. This is exactly what I want to spend my life doing. And from that moment on everything I did was, was geared at trying to become the best coach I could be and to try to make up for lost time that I had lost during that time where I wasn’t playing in high school.

[00:06:33] Mike Klinzing: Why do you think that moment sort of galvanized you to know that you wanted to be a basketball coach?

[00:06:40] Matt Monroe: To be honest, I think it was more so the reaction of the kids and the families after the game, after the comeback it was a great moment and everyone was so excited about what we had accomplished and the rest of the trip.

Just from the entire season of building connections, there was just a great sense of community and, and fantastic relationships that [00:07:00] were built. And it also reignited my passion for the game and for everything that the game gives you, not just what happens on the floor, but the lessons you learn and the experiences you share with.

[00:07:13] Mike Klinzing: When you finish high school, what’s your college decision-making process look like? Are you thinking you want to be a high school coach? Are you thinking you want to be a teacher or are you thinking you want to be a college coach? Just explain how you went through your process of choosing a college. You ended up at DePaul.

Just talk a little bit about what that was like for you making that decision.

[00:07:35] Matt Monroe: Yeah, well, before my experience coaching with my dad I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do in college. I wasn’t the best student growing up. I got a lot better as my high school career went on. And before I started coaching, I thought maybe I would get into film.

That might be the route I was going to take, but after my experience, coaching and falling in love with that profession I ended up changing my college search and. [00:08:00] I applied kind of on a whim to DePaul. My grandmother was a huge blue demon fan, especially in the eighties with all the great teams they had and playing on WGN.

So she encouraged me to, to apply at DePaul too, and I got accepted, but I ended up going to a different campus, not right downtown for my first year. And when I was. I knew I wanted to be a coach, but I wasn’t quite sure should I pursue college? Did I want to pursue high school? So my mom, who is a principal of an elementary school, encouraged me to get an education and kind of keep my options open.

And so I started pursuing a teaching degree in history now while, while I was there like I kind of alluded to before, I really tried to make up for lost time. And so I remember my freshman year I volunteered for a local AAU program, full package athletics. I started stuffing mailings and envelope for them to send out to people about their camp.

I helped out with their training, their [00:09:00] camps, their skill development sessions, and then eventually their teams. I also volunteered as a manager for the Barrack college men’s basketball team, which had been bought that campus was bought by DePaul, but they’re in one of the final years of still being able to feel the team.

And I also volunteered to be a coach in my local high school. As well as coach some travel teams on my own and, and sticking with that Deerfield feeder organization. So I literally coached every single second. I could, I think my schedule year I think I had class from like eight o’clock to maybe two o’clock and you know, not straight but in different spurts.

And then I would go to Deerfield high school practice from about three 30 to about five 30. And then I would go to the Deerfield young warriors practice from six to seven 30 and then Barrick college would practice from nine to 11 at night. And that was my every single day, my, my freshman year my sophomore year I kept the same schedule, but I ended up taking most of my classes down in the Lincoln park campus at DePaul.

[00:10:00] And it was then where I volunteered to be a student manager for the DePaul men’s basketball team.

[00:10:07] Mike Klinzing: What did that conversation look like when you went in? What was the process for. Getting the opportunity to be a student manager, cause depending again, on different schools and how desirable it is to become a manager.

I know those spots aren’t necessarily, always easy to get. So how did that come about for you?

[00:10:25] Matt Monroe: Well, the first thing is I ended up taking my freshman year, a class called theories and techniques of coaching. And it was the one class I had downtown and it was taught by John Bruno, who’s the women’s coach at DePaul.

And it was taught at the time by a coach named Jack Fitzgerald. He used to be at Richards high school. He was Dwayne Wade’s high school coach. He ended up working in the NBA with a few jobs. And so I got to meet coach Ledo Dave lado, who was the head coach at DePaul. Cause he was the guest speaker at one of those classes.

And so I expressed my interest to him and I ended up scheduling a time where I could go visit a [00:11:00] workout. And then over the summer I was coaching a travel team and we were down in Orlando at an AAU tournament. And I ended up happening to run into the head manager at DePaul at the time. And we ended up coming to you know, develop a pretty nice relationship together and he ended up bringing me on board towards the end of this.

[00:11:20] Mike Klinzing: Once you are in that position, give people an idea of some of the things that you had to do as a student manager, both on the side of maybe there’s some things that don’t necessarily apply to coaching that you had to do, but then some of the things that you got to see and that you got to be a part of that helped you to jumpstart your coaching career.

[00:11:43] Matt Monroe: Well, one of my good friends used to always tell me that even if he wasn’t in athletics or basketball, more specifically, he would always recommend hiring a manager or a former manager for a job because they’re willing to do literally anything and everything that it takes. There’s [00:12:00] literally no job too big or too small for, for a student manager.

So going into it, there were a lot of responsibilities that we had that had nothing to do with basketball, but everything to do. You know, being a hard worker and then serving the team. So we would do laundry pack bags help organize film exchange and stuff like that. Certainly we always had a towel on our shoulder, in case we needed to wipe the floor.

We worked the scores, plaque and film practices. But coach Lado and his staff knew right away. Cause I was very, very forthcoming about it that I wanted to be a coach. And so they ended up putting me in, in different positions where I was able to observe meetings and they gave me jobs that, that also had to pertain to coaching as well, involving film and film exchange.

And some of those organizational things, practice planning and so on. I was kind of involved in, in some of those things that obviously on the periphery, but it really helped prepare me in many ways, I think to kind of advance in coaching, but we had some really good experiences. My. [00:13:00] Sophomore year, we ended up making the NCAA tournament and we, we finished tied and it was something like a five way tie in conference USA for the regular season championship.

And we finished second in our conference tournament, lots of Cincinnati at Cincinnati, and ended up playing in the, in the tournament. We beat Dayton and a double overtime game in Buffalo, New York in the first round. And the second game, we ended up running into that UConn team that had been Gordon Emeka Okafor Charlie Villanueva. They, they got us pretty good, but it was a tremendously positive experience. And it’s something that I, I was forever grateful for. My sophomore year and my junior year being a manager for the team.

[00:13:40] Mike Klinzing: What was your relationship like with the players? Was there one particular guy that you kind of gravitated towards that you formed a friendship with, or a couple of guys, you just, how did that relationship work between players and managers and for you in particular?

[00:13:53] Matt Monroe: Yeah, I think DePaul had a pretty good culture of embracing the student managers [00:14:00] and understanding that even though it’s in a different way there in a way part of the team too, so the players were great. Whenever they needed anything, they, they asked whenever we needed their help with anything, they would be more than willing to, to help us as well.

But there was a lot of guys that I developed a pretty good friendship with Sammy McGill was our point guard. He was phenomenal. 6’7” guard from New York, Andre brown for a McDonald’s all American was a great guy. Qumar Greer from Milwaukee and Drake Diener ended up developing some really good friendships with a lot of those guys that we still talk to this day.

[00:14:32] Mike Klinzing: How did you straddle that relationship between. Being connected to the players, obviously you’re their same age. You’re a college student, just like they are versus the amount of time that you’re spending sort of behind the scenes with the coaching staff. How did you balance those two relationships? Like if a player says to you, I can’t believe coach is doing this or whatever.

How did you balance that, that type of situation if that ever happened to you?

[00:14:58] Matt Monroe: That’s a great question. We [00:15:00] were winning, so there wasn’t really a lot of that those types of situations very often. I do think that because of my desire to go into coaching I tried to take as neutral of a perspective as possible if there ever was any issues.

But to be honest, there weren’t really any you know, certainly there’s day-to-day struggles within a program, but I think we had a good culture and, and we were winning. So there was a lot of positivity,

[00:15:27] Mike Klinzing: The experience that you had there, did it make you. Think about, Hey, maybe college coaching is the route that I want to go, or did you see some things with college goats?

And you’re like, oh, maybe my experience as a travel coach maybe leads me more towards being a high school coach. Just where was your mindset at, as you were going through your college experience in terms of where you thought you might end up as a coach?

[00:15:51] Matt Monroe: Yeah, absolutely. So going into my senior year I kind of was at a little bit of a crossroads.

Our coach  got [00:16:00] hired at the University of Virginia and we had a new coach coming in and it was also time for me to begin my student teaching career. And so I was kind of torn which route I wanted to take. And so my senior year, I ended up volunteering at the school that I was student teaching at as a coach.

And throughout my entire college career, I had coached junior high teams and AAU teams that they had different rules back then for a lot of that recruiting stuff. But I really kind of enjoyed, I loved the college experience, but I really enjoyed working with those high school teams. And one of the guys that really had a huge influence on me was actually the coach at my high school.

His name was Steve Pappas. And when he knew I wanted to get into coaching, he was teaching a couple of college level courses on coaching. And he really kind of served as, as a mentor to me, the first person that ever called me coach as I was kind of walking the hallways in my high school. And I kind of weighed the pros and cons of both and in terms of what I wanted to pursue, [00:17:00] but to me, I wanted to have a family and I didn’t want to be gone all the time.

And I also wanted to kind of build a program from the youth levels all the way up to the kids when they kind of graduated high school. And I thought it was a great opportunity to be honest. When I student taught, I fell in love with teaching as well. So to me high school presented the best of both worlds.

I got to teach history during the day and I got to teach basketball after school. And I got to build a program from start to finish and develop those lasting relationships. So that’s kind of how I ended up deciding to stick with the high school route. Now I have a couple of opportunities and offers to coach at some smaller colleges.

But to me, my heart was always in the high school game.

[00:17:41] Mike Klinzing: Do you think that, I mean, when I hear about guys trying to make that decision between high school and college, I think one of the things that you mentioned that is a super critical thing to take into account is especially as a young coach, we talked to a lot of guys that have.

Going on and, and [00:18:00] Ben college basketball coaches. And they just, again talk about the amount of time that it takes, whether you’re on the road recruiting or you’re in the office, or you’re doing this, or you just, it’s, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a challenging lifestyle, especially at the beginning where you’re doing that work for, for, for next to nothing.

Not that you’re getting rich as a, as a high school teacher, by any means, but by the same token paying your dues as a college coach, I think people see people see those guys who were at kind of the top of the mountain as division one head coaches. And they think that that’s a smooth path to go from a go from graduating from college to getting up to where you’re going to be on TV.

And you’re having one of these glamour jobs. And of course anybody’s in the coaching profession, knows that that’s a far cry from what actually happens. So you chose to go the high school route. What’s the first job that you take. And what do you remember about both your teaching experience and your coaching experience in that first year?

[00:18:54] Matt Monroe: Yeah. So I had a kind of, like I mentioned before, I had coached and [00:19:00] worked with multiple teams throughout my college experience. My freshman and sophomore year in college, I volunteered at my high school at Deerfield high school, the volunteer assistant on the sophomore team my junior year I did not coach high school.

I focused on what was happening at DePaul and my travel team. But my senior year, I was at the school just north of the city called now’s west, volunteering for the varsity team. And once I kind of finished my student teaching experience, I ended up getting a job teaching middle school. I wasn’t even social studies.

I was teaching citizenship and study skills, which is kind of ironic cause I wasn’t the best student growing up. And I ended up getting hired at ed Vernon Hills high school as the head freshman coach. And. Did double-duty and helps with the varsity as well. And I was there for two years and Matt McCarty was the head coach and he’s a tremendous friend and, and an absolutely phenomenal coach.

I learned a ton from him, but I had ended up being [00:20:00] a manager at DePaul. And on the women’s side, one of my best friends his name is Brandon Bailey was a manager for coach Bruno. We developed a really close friendship. And his dad is the head coach at St. Patrick high school on the north side of Chicago.

In the last, I think 55 years, they’ve only had two head basketball coaches that say pass and they have a story tradition. And I, I ended up kind of having an interesting situation. So I was at Vernon Hills. I wanted to move into teaching high school history, and I wanted to advance my career as a coach.

So what ends up happening at the end of my second year at Vernon Hills? Right around the spring time I was interviewing for a head coaching job, 23 or 24 years old. And I was interviewing at a school right along the Mississippi river about three and a half hours from where I lived at the same time.

Coach Bailey over at St. Pat’s told me that he might have an opening at St. Pats as one of his assistants and also [00:21:00] a social studies teacher. And he was kind of waiting on two of his assistants to see whether or not they were going to be hired as head coaches at others. So I wasn’t quite sure what to do.

So I go to the school right along the Mississippi river for my interview takes a little while to get there. I drive in, there’s just a couple of buildings in the city, downtown or in the town. And I ended up having a nice interview and on my way back, they called me and offered me the job. And I was super excited.

I thought, wow, I could be a head coach at the age of 23 or 24. This is fantastic. But the more I thought about it on my way home, I also wanted to make sure that I was as prepared as possible to be the best possible coach I could be once it was time for me to take over. So I called coach Bailey and ask him what is going on in the situation with his assistance and whether or not he’d have a spot for me, he wasn’t quite sure.

So I told the school that offered me the job that I would like to think about it over the weekend, because it was going to require a big move and a [00:22:00] big lifestyle change. And as I thought about it over the weekend, I didn’t really know what to do, but I knew I really felt that I needed to continue to grow as a coach to be prepared to take over program.

So that Monday, when I was about to call this school and tell them what my decision was, I saw reported online Chicago, sometimes that coach Bailey’s assistant got hired at, at a school called Bennett academy. So I called coach Bailey and he said that it was time that he was going to push for me to come in for an interview.

So I turned down that head coaching job, and  I became the head freshman coach and, and a history teacher at St. Patrick high school. And I ended up serving as the head freshman coach for two years and the sophomore coach for six and at St. Pats when you’re an assistant coach at any level you’re assistant coach for the varsity.

So I would spend every single day during the season doing two practices, I do my two hour freshmen practice or two hours sophomore practice, and then go right into the two and a half hour varsity [00:23:00] practice. And it was a clinic. I learned so much about coaching, about X’s and O’s about leading a program, the administrative side of things.

And I really am happy that I made the decision to have Coach Bailey as my mentor, and to work with the wonderful people at St. Pats. Because I think that that experience along with my experiences from before really helped prepare me to be a head coach later on.

[00:23:25] Mike Klinzing: Did anybody, when you turn down that head coaching job to go and take an assistance job, did anybody in your inner circle Sadia?

Hey, that’s crazy to pass up the opportunity to be a head coach at such a young age, or just, what were the conversations like with people around you in your inner circle when you were making that.

[00:23:44] Matt Monroe: Yeah. Some of my friends were questioning my decision. They thought, oh, well this is what you wanted. Like, you go now go now.

But I’m very, very lucky. I’ve had some tremendous mentors in my coaching journey. Obviously both my parents, my mom being a school [00:24:00] administrator. And my dad being a coach coach path has that at Deerfield high school, before he passed away. Matt McCardy at Vernon Hills and Greg tap the mouth of Deerfield and Ken Davis, who was a formerly the coach at lake forest college.

And those mentors were able to kind of give me a little bit of a different perspective and they supported. And in fact, encouraged me to, to continue to learn the game before I got into a position where maybe I bit off, more than I could chew at at such an early age.

[00:24:30] Mike Klinzing: I know the list is going to be long and extensive, but can you give us.

1, 2, 3 things maybe that you learned during your time at St. Patrick’s that when you reflect upon that, and you think about now what you’re doing as a head coach, what are some of the most important things that you learned during that time that have helped you to build a successful program as a head coach?

[00:24:57] Matt Monroe: So the first one is that [00:25:00] coaching is much more than what happens on the court. It’s about relationship. It’s about experience. It’s about support. It’s about. And that’s something that we really kind of talk a lot about obtaining nations. The mission of our basketball program is our basketball program is much bigger than basketball.

And that is definitely something that I learned at St Pat’s and from my other mentors, the second one is outwork everybody. We are not afraid in our program, myself included to, to put in the extra time, to go above and beyond what it takes to be successful and to not just work hard, but to embrace and love the work that goes into it.

The third thing is building a program just like coaching is a lot more than just what happens on the court. Being organized as being detail oriented. It’s about constantly evolving and trying to grow. It’s about relationships. It’s about connections and it’s about really kind of strength trying to strengthen the overall life of everyone that you [00:26:00] come into contact.

[00:26:02] Mike Klinzing: All right. Let’s talk about bigger than basketball. So on a high level, I understand exactly what that means and what you’re trying to say on a more concrete day-to-day level. What does that look like when you’re trying to establish a program that’s bigger than basketball? What are some things that you guys do day to day that you feel embodies that philosophy of our programs bigger than basketball?

[00:26:28] Matt Monroe: So our program being bigger than basketball is closely connected to the culture that we’ve tried to build at St. Ignatius. Some of the things that we might do that represent that culture. So first of all, our school’s mission aligns perfectly with the mission of our basketball program. The Jesuit priests that operate our school.

They believe in something called Cura personality, which is a Latin term. That basic basically means the whole person. So everything we do is aimed at trying to develop the whole person. One of the best examples that [00:27:00] I can bring up that I think shed light on what the day-to-day operations would be in terms of fitting that mission.

We have a program within our basketball program called our Be more series. And what we do is we meet weekly with our guys and we talk about issues an items that oftentimes have nothing to do with basketball, but have everything to do with being a great person. We’ll bring in guest speakers. Sometimes our players, especially our seniors will lead the talk.

Sometimes it’s just our coaching staff, but we’ll talk on issues such as leadership, faith, communication, how to handle adversity and turn it into a positivity all sorts of issues that certainly translate into giving our guys the tools that they need to be successful, not just on the court or in the classroom, but beyond that, when they graduate our school,

[00:27:49] Mike Klinzing: What’s the best guest speaker or who’s the best guest speaker that you’ve had.

And what messages have they shared with you?

[00:27:55] Matt Monroe: Oh, there’s, there’s so many which we have so many great ones. [00:28:00] We we’ve had some alums come in recently. Not an ag. Who’s probably the all time leader in block shots. Not just in our school’s history, but probably the state of Illinois is that the university of Illinois.

And he came in this year to kind of talk about what being a great teammate has meant to him and, and the relationships that he’s built in the game and, and how those have transcended the game. One of my mentors and good friends, he leads our Illinois basketball coaches association, which I worked pretty closely with Jim Tracy last year or two years, I should say right before the pandemic did a big talk on the importance of sticking together, no matter what our athletic director, coach Hurley talked about this year what is like in terms of Jesuit education and playing basketball and how they’re intertwined.

So we’ve had some tremendous speakers, but I do have to be honest, the one. Really get me the most are when our seniors lead those talks and they talk about their experience when they talk about the work that’s needed. And, and they talk about their love for one another. [00:29:00]

[00:29:01] Mike Klinzing: You also mentioned that your program is about hard work, and you talked about being willing as a player in the program, but also you yourself as a coach of putting in that extra time, that it takes to really have the kind of success that you want to have.

And this has been a theme, Matt, that’s kind of run through our show when we talk about sort of the baseline amount of time that it takes for a high school coach today to build a successful program. And I think whatever that number of hours that you want to put on it per week per day, per month per year, is I would say much higher than it was 15 or 20 years ago in terms of what parents players, community expect.

And need in order for the program to be successful. So when you talk about hard work, can you give us an idea of some of the extra things that [00:30:00] you put effort into that you feel like sets your program apart and allows you to have the kind of success that you want to have?

[00:30:08] Matt Monroe: So being a head varsity coach at a high school is a full-time job.

I joke with people all the time. I have two full-time jobs and both of them pretty much lasts the whole year. There’s not a day that goes by where I’m not spending multiple hours doing something to try to make our program better. Number one, because I’m driven number two, because I want to be able to give our kids all the tools they need to be successful.

A number three. It’s something that I love and I’m passionate about, and I’m always trying to work towards. So in the season, it’s easy to define what takes up a lot of your time. I mean, Probably spend about four or five hours on each team we play in terms of watching game film and, and doing scattered reports, practice planning meeting with our kids, reviewing our own film, and then obviously coaching the games.

During the off season, we offer a ton of [00:31:00] optional open gym opportunities for our kids. I’ll open the gym whenever it’s available for our kids. Again, whether it’s at six o’clock in the morning or in the afternoon or evening, It’s much more than that. You know, I’m always trying to improve our training.

So our coaching staff meets frequently. We host a ton of camps. We host tournaments at our school consistently going to coaching clinics, round tables, college practices, reading about the game subscribing to different services that helped me grow in my knowledge. So there’s never really a moment that, that we’re not working towards growing our program.

I mean, this, this off season, we’ve been very blessed to have a lot of colleges express interest in a number of our players. And so working to try to connect our players to the schools that they hope to play at one day or connecting with alumni and checking in with them. It’s literally a, almost a 24 7, 365 day a year job in, in many respects.

[00:31:56] Mike Klinzing: There’s no question about that. Let’s touch on [00:32:00] something you just mentioned in terms of. Having players in your program that are going to be recruited to play college basketball and how you see your role as a high school coach in that recruitment. And it may be different for every kid and every family and how they kind of approach it.

But just talk to us a little bit in general, about your philosophy, about what your role is in helping to facilitate your players, getting an opportunity to play college basketball.

[00:32:28] Matt Monroe: Sometimes high school coaches, especially with how recruiting has changed. Really over the last couple of decades, I think sometimes high school coaches take a little bit of a backseat when it comes to getting involved in their players recruiting, but I’m not one of those coaches.

I try to advocate for them as much as I possibly can. I put together highlight videos for all of our kids. I send emails out to hundreds and hundreds of kids. Letting them know where we’re playing in the June, Scholastic recruiting live period. Our open gym schedule, what our season schedule looks like.

I sent him the [00:33:00] stats and grades and other information about all of our kids. We’re constantly making phone calls to colleges to try to get them out and watch our kids and get them some looks. But at the end of the day throughout that whole process, it’s always about our kids and, and nobody else, because we want them to be able to achieve their dreams and their goals.

And, and we want them to have every avenue in which they can be successful. So part of that is also connecting with their travel coaches and making sure that we’re working with those travel coaches to give those kids the best chance to get exposure and to get seen. And it also includes constantly being in communication with their families making sure that I know exactly what they’re looking for and, and making sure that we’re connected on just about every aspect of the recruiting.

[00:33:48] Mike Klinzing: Two questions, or I guess it’s the same question, but with two different groups of people, how do you build those relationships with college coaches, to the point [00:34:00] where they know that they can reach out to you and that you’re going to give them an honest evaluation of the players in your program, because obviously you don’t want to get in a situation where you’re, over-hyping your players.

And then now you have a college coach that says, oh, this guy, he’s not telling me the truth about his guys. And that could end up hurting, not just the player that you’re dealing with in the moment, but somebody in the future, that’s going to be a part of it. So how do you deal with building those relationships with college players or sorry, with college coaches.

And then on the other side of it, you mentioned working with the AAU coaches. How do you go about building those relationships? Is that something that you’re proactively reaching out to the AAU coaches are the good AAU programs reaching out to you and say, Hey coach, we got one of your guys here. What do you want us to work on with them?

How does that work? Talk about how you build relationships on both sides of that fence, both with college coaches and with the AAU coaches on the other side.

[00:34:54] Matt Monroe: When it comes to college coaches, one of the things I think is really important and I think this goes back to. Is [00:35:00] to not only have communication when you need something.

If the only time I talked to a lot of these college coaches is when I’m looking to get a flare recruiter or vice versa. If the only time a college coach reaches out to somebody when they need something, I think sometimes those relationships can be a little bit artificial. So we try to build relationships with college coaches all the time in many different avenues, whether it’s going to practices, asking questions about their program, staying in contact with coaches about how their seasons are going, saying hi to them when you run into them in the circuit and just trying to establish those longer lasting connections, I think is really important.

And like you mentioned it’s also essential to tell them the truth because it’s important that they can trust us about those players.

And we also want our players to go into a situation [00:36:00] where they are able to be themselves and to live up to those expectations of just being who they are and not somebody else in regards to they, you coaches the, I crochet you basketball for 12 years, and I was able to develop a lot of good friendships during my time.

But as I’ve kind of been removed from it a little bit I think it’s important to be proactive. And so what I do is I do reach out to their AAU coaches. We tried to touch base pretty frugally, nice that many of them have reached out to me as well. I attend our, our kids travel games when they’re in town, as much as I can to show my support.

And I try to build those relationships with, with those AAU coaches, because at the end of the day it’s a partnership. Many of us have the same goal in mind, and we want to provide great opportunities and great experiences for our players.

[00:36:47] Mike Klinzing: I think that’s a really good point. And it’s one that we’ve talked about with a lot of different coaches where there’s sometimes is this riff between high school coaches and AAU.

And you can hear it [00:37:00] depending upon which side of that fence you fall on and who you talk to that there can be sometimes some friction between the two, but I think ultimately the good high school coaches and the good AAU programs are the ones that work together with the idea that they’re doing what’s best for that player, for that kid, for that family, as opposed to the people maybe who are not the best operators who are instead doing it for their benefit as an adult or an organization or whatever it might be.

I think when you keep it player and kid focused on what’s important to them, that’s when you’re going to end up getting the best results. Is that what you’ve seen in your expenses?

[00:37:45] Matt Monroe: No doubt. I mean, if you put players first you’re going to have good results. And I think that there are way more people, whether it’s in high school or in the scene that are servant leaders that are putting kids [00:38:00] first and are not.

And I think it’s, it’s really easy that if you have the best interest of that child in mind, it makes it really easy to work together.

[00:38:09] Mike Klinzing: Let’s shift gears to directly your players at St. Ignatius. And when you have guys that come into your school as freshmen, you’re obviously getting them not from a feeder program.

Like you might, if you were coaching at a public school. So just talk a little bit about how you immediately immerse them in your culture and what that onboarding process looks like for you.

[00:38:34] Matt Monroe: Yeah. I mean, we have, I think over 200. 12 grade schools represented at our high school right now. So when you said we don’t have a theater school, you’re a hundred percent.

Right. And the other thing that we run into is oftentimes because we’re a private school and we’re in the city there’s a lot of kids that come from different schools that don’t know each other. And many of those kids are the best players at their grade school. So when they all kind of come [00:39:00] together freshman year, it could be a little bit of a culture shock in many ways for them.

So what we do, the first thing we do is that we have our summer basketball camp for incoming freshmen and really for all of our grade levels in the month of June. And while we’re there, we try to. Introduce those players and the younger guys to what our program’s all about. We talked to them about our culture.

We have our older kids work as counselors at those camps, so that those incoming freshmen could kind of meet and, and know some of those current high school guys and, and build connections with them. And we have two weeks worth of camp and later on in the summer, our school does an awesome job.

Freshmen orientation, where students are in the building and getting to know the lay of the land. And then once we get into school in the fall our open gym program is open to everybody and what’s nice now annoy while we can’t instruct them in basketball we can be present in the gym supervising.

And so we’re able to kind of get to know the kids a little bit, [00:40:00] build connection with them. And one of the things that I think helps me a lot is that I I’m a teacher in the building and I teach mostly freshmen and a few sophomore classes. So a number of the kids that come in that end up trying out for our team, I also have them in my classes as well, which is a really good thing.

[00:40:18] Mike Klinzing: How many kids, what’s the numbers of freshmen that you have tried out for basketball that first, when they first get there?

[00:40:24] Matt Monroe: We are very lucky. We have about 50 to 60 freshmen tryout each. And we normally keep between 18 and 22. We believe we have one freshman team, but we do play freshmen, AA games and freshmen B games, so that kids have a chance to kind of develop during game action.

[00:40:43] Mike Klinzing: All right. So once you have those kids and you have those 18 to 22, and you’re kind of getting them into, and you’re building that culture, how do you guys structure your practice settings, the freshmen practice separately, then your JV and varsity practice together. Do they practice [00:41:00] separate? Just how do you have your practices structured at your school?

[00:41:03] Matt Monroe: I’m a big believer that our basketball program is a family and it’s not three separate levels that work in their own silos. I like to bring everyone together as much as possible. So a given week, a normal practice schedule, there would be some days where the freshmen will practice alone and sophomores, we call them sophomores.

But sophomores would practice by themselves and then varsity would have their own time. And sometimes during that week, freshmen and sophomores might combine for practice. Sophomores in varsity might combine for a practice. There might be a little overlap between the start and end times with certain practices.

And then at various points during the year, we will have senior led practices where we’ll bring all three levels together and our seniors will plan the practice and we’ll lead the practice. And usually it’s a, it’s a really fun experience for everybody and a great way to, to build connections and to build that family feeling in our program.

[00:41:58] Mike Klinzing: Have you ever learned [00:42:00] something about one of the seniors as they were leading a practice that maybe you didn’t know? Did you ever see a side of their personality come out as a coach that maybe you didn’t see before?

[00:42:09] Matt Monroe: Well, we get to know our players pretty well, but the fun thing that we kind of always joke with them is if they get frustrated that the drill didn’t start right, or whatever, Hey guys how how we feel, we learn what the players are comfortable with.

And, and I think you know, our seniors, oftentimes in those senior led practices will divide and conquer. And it’s kind of interesting to see which facets of the games certain guys focus on. It’s also just to see, you know how guys do in the Canada leadership position. And we try through that and, and through many other circumstances to manufacture opportunities for our players to lead during a given season,

[00:42:47] Mike Klinzing: Give us an example of some of those situations that you put kids in to allow them to develop leadership skills.

Because I think a lot of times when we think about what a leader is on a high school team, a lot of people [00:43:00] will naturally gravitate toward, well, who’s the captain of the team, who are we going to have as captains this year? So often you see a kid named a captain, but then they don’t get any guidance on really what a captain is supposed to do or how as a captain is supposed to lead.

And I think too often, as coaches will say, man, our team just lacks leadership. We don’t have any leaders on this team. And yet, if we really think about it, we have to ask ourselves, what have we done to teach them what leadership is all about? Because more often than not, kids just don’t have any experience.

Nobody’s taught them, nobody’s talked to them, nobody’s giving them examples. Nobody’s showed them what we mean when we say demonstrate leadership or be a leader. So how do you give your kids those kinds of leadership opportunities day to day?

[00:43:47] Matt Monroe: Well certainly you could be a natural leader where it just comes naturally.

But I think leadership is something that’s also taught. And I think as a coach oftentimes we’ll come out there and we’ll say, well, you need to provide [00:44:00] just like you said, you need to provide better leadership. Hey, you need to play better defense. Well, what does that mean? It’s pretty broad, like be specific so they can have some direction.

So what we do first and foremost, we always talk about. How a player led program is better than a coach led program. And it’s not just words or a mantra. It’s something that we try to live. So some examples where we try to put our kids in leadership positions. Well I kind of mentioned how our seniors will lead.

Some of those be more talks we have about character development during pregame post game before practice, after practice, we always try to, to open up the floor to have players contribute, whether it’s to give an insight on an opposing player, they know, or to reinforce the game plan points before a game, if it’s to provide reflection or what they think the next step should be after a game or at practice, we always try to give our kids a chance to have a voice in that regard.

Those senior led practices, I think play a big role in providing [00:45:00] leadership opportunities and two other things I think are very closely connected. One is a little bit more obvious how it connects to leader. Every year at the end of the season as we start to prepare for the next season, I hold weekly meetings with our returning seniors, the guys that are going to be seniors the next year.

And we talk about every aspect of the program. We talk about plans for the next year. We talk about different issues that may have come up that past season or that we could foresee coming up in the future. And I try to get as much input from them in a variety of things as we can, but something I also do at the end of each year, I personally will meet with every single kid in our program, individually freshmen, through seniors managers, anyone that was involved in our program.

And I meet with them from March till may. Usually it takes up just about every one of my free periods throughout that. When I meet with them, I asked them about their experience. I asked them what they like about our program, what things they think could be a little bit [00:46:00] different and what their goals are.

And I asked them how we can support them. So I think having those individual conversations in many ways, empowers them to feel like their voice matters because it does. And I think that also gives them more confidence to be more of an active leader as they kind of go through our program. Yeah, absolutely.

[00:46:17] Mike Klinzing: I can see that. Is there anything that has come up in those conversations over the years that has surprised you or something that was maybe more insightful than you anticipated that really made you think about, Hey, maybe I need to think about doing this differently because of something that somebody in the program told you in one of those conversations.

[00:46:40] Matt Monroe: Yeah. So I kind of go back to coach my first mentoring coaching, and he told me when I was first getting into it, if you stop growing, that’s when you should stop. And I’ve always tried to, to take that to heart and try to improve as much as I can every single year, [00:47:00] personally. And then obviously collectively when it comes to our whole program.

So it’s always good to get that positive feedback in those meetings because it gives you validation and reinforcement. But I think that it’s even just as, or probably more meaningful when you do get that constructive criticism or the insight on how things can improve and know, I think some of the things.

What kind of helped us evolve our program? I’d say one is, we’ve kind of changed our practice structure a little bit to a little bit more playing and a little bit less breakdown, drills and teaching through playing. A lot of that came through some of those meetings we had with kids early on when I first got to St. Ignatius. Some of the other things have been kind of to double down on, on some of the activities, like the be more meetings gave validation to, to keep it going and then even expand the program. One of the things that kinda came out from that was our kids wanted to do some more team building activities during the year.

I think sometimes you go into the season. You have all these great ideas. While at this point, we’re going to go bowling. And at this point we’re going to just [00:48:00] drop everything and have a team meal together and this and that. And then once you get into the season you kind of lose track of everything cause you’re preparing for the games and trying to get everything you want to get in that practice.

And through those meetings our kids ask us to be a little bit more intentional about building in time. And so now we schedule it on our actual calendar when we’re going to do some of those team building things. And it doesn’t take away from the spontaneous team building moments, but it makes us be more intentional about building that into our schedule.

And so those meetings have been extremely insightful and have helped us not just to end our program, but also to understand our players a better.

[00:48:39] Mike Klinzing: I love the idea of being, putting, putting team building stuff on the schedule. Cause as you said, it’s very easy to get lost in the day to day, minutia of preparing for your next game and planning for your next practice.

And it’s easy to think at it, team bowling experience. Isn’t that great. But yet, [00:49:00] when we think about our experiences as players and coaches, and you go back in time, really what you remember are the moments much more than you remember an individual game or wins and losses, or what this particular scouting report said, but you remember that bowling trip, or you remember that bus ride, or you remember that time in the locker room after a win where it may just be being with your teammates is even more impactful than the win itself was.

And I think sometimes we as coaches get so caught up in that nitty gritty of, Hey, I got to get this done in this moment that we sometimes forget to get to see that bigger picture. I think you make a great point when you talk about being intentional and putting it on the schedule. I think that’s something that all coaches.

If you’re going to be successful, there’s so many pieces of coaching that are easily lost if you’re not intentional about them. And I think that’s a challenge that we all go through day to [00:50:00] day. And I’ll give you an example based off of something else that you said when you talked about how you shifted over the course of time, sort of how you implemented and put your practice plans together to incorporate more playing and more game-like situations, as opposed to more breakdown work that you might’ve done in the past.

So as you transitioned from that breakdown, drill work to more games based approach, how do you balance out how you provide instruction and feedback to the kids within, we all know how it works in the drill. If you’re doing something and you’re repping it over and over again, it’s easy to stop and give instructions, say, Hey, you gotta do this, do that.

Whereas we know the game as much more dynamic and you can easily pick up. 10 things that went well in a particular segment, you could probably pick out 10 things that went poorly. And yet we know that we can’t overload players with information. So how do you handle feedback, constructive criticism, coaching within what you do with your practice?

Now, when [00:51:00] you’re having a more of a games based approach,

[00:51:02] Matt Monroe: We’ll take in more of a games based approach. I think you could definitely have the same level of feedback while yielding even better results that you were to break down drills. So I think you go back to the word being intentional.

When I plan practice I’m very intentional about what we’re going to work on and what each segment is going to focus on, even if it’s taking a more games based approach. So maybe during this one segment, we’re playing up and down and we want to work on our offense and. One of the things that we’re not doing well during the season is we’re not spaced.

Well, we’re not engaging the defense with off-ball movement. So I’m going to be very intentional during that segment to emphasize those things throughout. I also have an army of coaches which is great. Every single coach is assigned to a different team or a different group, and there’s different times where those groups rotate out and they have to go right over to that coach to receive some feedback and also to share their own thoughts with each other.

And I’ll bounce between each [00:52:00] group. And certainly if we got to stop something to make a point to the wider group, we certainly will, especially early on in the year. But I think our guys like it a lot better when we don’t stop the play as much. And, and we talked to them off to the side when we’re rotating in and out.

And when we’re kind of transitioning between drills.

[00:52:16] Mike Klinzing: Do you find that to be challenging? Is that something that comes natural to you? Cause I know, I think of myself when I’m watching a practice, I see things and I just, I want to jump in and I want to be able to help. I want to be able to coach, I want to be able to instruct, and yet I know that there’s a limit to sort of what my players can take in and process and actually put to use to help themselves improve and help our team improve.

So is that something that comes naturally to you where that feedback loop, you’re able to figure that out, both as a coach and obviously you’re doing the same thing in the classroom, but just talk a little bit about how you personally provide that feedback and how natural that comes to you. [00:53:00]

[00:53:00] Matt Monroe: Well I’m a talker, so I never have any problems sharing with our players with that in my mind.

But I think when we’re looking at it at practice while they’re playing, I’m always giving them feedback trying to make a, a good balance between positive feedback and reinforcing the things that are going well and also providing good, positive, constructive feedback as well.

So I’m always coaching the guys during the game. I’m running around from spot to spot, always instructing our guys as much as I can, but I also don’t want to give them, like you mentioned too much information because they’re going to get bogged down in the details. And I think I just met with one of my assistant coaches.

Today actually we had kind of talked about having little goals for your Segmented practice or for each possession out on the floor and not trying to overwhelm them with too many things and trying to win those goals each possession. And I think at times as a coach you have a million things going on in your head and you have a million more things that you want to correct out on the floor.

And I [00:54:00] think you’ve just got to judge, what’s the most important thing what’s going to benefit? What type of feedback is going to benefit this player or this team, the most in that given situation. And we don’t always make the right decision, but we try to, and we try to give them the things that they need the most to be successful.

[00:54:16] Mike Klinzing: So that being said, when you’re trying to figure out what your team needs the most, how does that factor into how you go about planning your practices and what is your practice design look like? So the process that you go through for planning practices and designing it, what are your practices ended up looking like, just talk a little bit about the practice planning process for you.

[00:54:39] Matt Monroe: I think so during the beginning of the year, it’s a little bit different. Like right now I’m in the process of planning out the first full two weeks of practice before our first game. I applied out what day I’m going to introduce what concept and kind of space it out. So we don’t do too many new things in a single day.

And then also I plot out what skills we want to work on, both [00:55:00] ends of the floor. So I’m, I’m kind of really planning ahead right now. Once we get into the heart of the season say a practice ends are gay men. The first thing I’m doing is I’m trying to seek. So certainly I look at, look at the game through my lens, but my lens is not the only lens.

And certainly I’m going to miss some things and have a different perspective than others. So after a game or a practice I constantly talk to our players, whether it’s right after practice individually during the school day, leading up to the next practice, I talked to our coaches and I try to seek as much feedback as possible.

And then I take all that feedback and all the points of things that we need to work on. And I, I try to focus on what’s the most important thing. And I usually spend about an hour to an hour and a half planning each practice. I map it out minute by minute named the drill, put in the place of that.

Organize our teams and I try to have a theme for each day. Certainly that theme might encompass a wide range of things, or it might be very specific based on our needs. [00:56:00] Now, when we practice, I like to keep practice moving. We do a lot, and I would like to think that our practices are real crisp and are real fast paced in, in many different ways.

We certainly want practices to simulate a game, but we also want it to be more difficult than a game. So once they play in the games, our players find those situations a little bit easier or find themselves in a spot where they’ve. The situation before, because we’ve practiced it. Normally we do some breakdown drills, and it was certainly we incorporate a lot of skill development.

Oftentimes I front load that at the beginning of practice along with our full court stuff. And then the later stages of practice is mostly our, our game-based training, our situational stuff  our small sided games and, and certainly our, our late game situations.

[00:56:46] Mike Klinzing: At what point in the process do you engage your assistant coaches with the practice plan?

Are they bringing you suggestions of, Hey, here’s something that I think that we’ve maybe neglected or something that we didn’t do very well in the last [00:57:00] practice of the last game. And they’re bringing those to you, is that you putting together that entire practice plan and then taking it to them and then getting feedback, just how do you get your assistant coaches involved in the prac practice planning process?

[00:57:13] Matt Monroe: I’m a very collaborative leader in terms of my leadership style. I believe in trying to seek as much input as possible and my coaches are fantastic. Our, our coaching staff is unbelievable. You’re, you’re only as strong as the people you surround yourself with. And I surround myself with some fantastic people and then some outstanding coaches.

So in terms of where they’re at in the process for planning, for practice and also for games, I involved them throughout the entire process. I see input before I start putting together our plans. I will email our practice plan, not just to our varsity coaches, but to all the coaches in our program.

If they see something that they want changed or feel like we’re not spending enough time on a certain thing. I do feel like our coaches are empowered to [00:58:00] share that with me. The best thing in terms of creating a culture of collaboration amongst your staff, is to make sure that everyone feels like they have a voice, but to also create a culture where assistant coaches don’t feel like if they make a suggestion and it’s turned down that it’s because you don’t value their opinion.

It’s just because you went in a different direction. And I think our coach. Our wonderful when it comes to giving suggestions and not taking it personal, if we don’t take their suggestions and not gloating when their suggestions work out well, we got a real good team and everyone’s pulling and rowing in the same direction and it really yields really outstanding results.

[00:58:40] Mike Klinzing: When you think about your responsibilities as a head coach, there’s typically two types of assistant coaches that you have on any staff. You have one type of assistant who is somebody that loves being an assistant coach, and that’s sort of their niche. And that’s kind of where they want to be for whatever reason, maybe [00:59:00] just because of where they are in their career.

Maybe it could just be the fact that they just enjoy the process of what it means to be an assistant coach. And then you have other coaches who eventually aspire to be a head coach and take over their own program one day. So how do you look at your responsibility as a head coach to help to develop.

Your staff. And what are some of the things that you do? You’ve already talked about a couple of them, but how do you look at trying to help your assistant coaches develop themselves so that they can be successful both in the setting they’re in now, but also if they decide to move on and take, take over their own program.

[00:59:39] Matt Monroe: I go back to my time at St. Pat’s under Mike Bailey as his assistant, he has taken so much pride in moving his assistants on to be head coaches. I went from his staff to stand Ignatius. This guy, Tim Trendal outstanding coach went from his staff to coach at two other schools in the area. Jean Heitkamp, over at Bennett, ran Ashleigh at [01:00:00] Waukegan.

Chris morass over at Ridgewood. I can name a Chaz taps if I can name tons of coaches. And he really took a lot of pride in, in moving coaches on to those positions, but it just wasn’t him being happy that they did it. It was in the preparation leading up to it. So like when I was as assistant not only did it.

Do double duty and coach the sophomores and the varsity. But I was in every meeting, every parent meeting, every discussion with him, he had me handle a lot of the phone calls. A lot of the administrative work basically had me do all the unseen things that as a young coach, you wouldn’t expect to have to do.

He made me do it so that I, I had a variety and diversity of experiences so that I was prepared and ready to go. I think looking at our staff, I’ve tried to bring that same idea. You know, we are a learning and a teaching program and we want everyone in our program to, to always be constantly evolving and growing and improving.

You know, we’re not the coaches that are those coaches that kinda say, Hey do, as I say, but not [01:01:00] as I do, if we’re always telling our kids to work on their craft and to put in the extra time and to train hard and to prepare well, we better be doing the same thing as coaches ourselves. So as a staff we do a lot of things.

Like I mentioned empowering our staff members. The contributors and many different facets of our programs, we ended up dividing and conquering off-season projects that people take you know ownership in whether it’s trying to improve our offensive or defensive systems, practice, planning, skill development.

It might be, Hey, let’s all take a, a different team in the NBA playoffs and let’s study them and look at all the different adjustments they make throughout the course of the series. It could be attending college practices and then go into coaching clinics or engaging in discussion or giving our staff a book to read in the off season.

I think it is a responsibility of mine as a head coach to, to give our guys all the tools they need to, to continue to grow and develop. And that applies to the guys that loved being an assistant coach and, and don’t [01:02:00] aspire to be head coaches. And that also applies to the guys that, that have those aspirations.

I think for the guys that really want it to move into the head coaching realm. I think there’s a responsibility as a head coach to kind of do what coach Bailey did to me and, and give them some more of those administrative responsibilities on top of what happens on the floor. So hopefully down the road, I’ve been at the nations for six years and I hope a number of our guys move on to be head coaches.

And hopefully they, they can gain a, at least a little bit from their experience on our staff.

[01:02:29] Mike Klinzing: I think it’s a great point that you make about giving assistant coaches who want to be head coaches, not just experience on the floor, being in charge of certain things, but also giving them some of those administrative duties, because almost to a man, the coaches that we’ve talked to, Matt that have transitioned from being an assistant coach to a head coach, one of the things they always say to us is I didn’t realize how [01:03:00] much non-basketball stuff that I had to do as a head coach that.

I really wasn’t necessarily aware of as an assistant coach, when you think about managing your budget and uniforms and travel and organization, and doing just a lot of the things that even assistant coaches on the staff may not be aware of, but certainly that high-school players are not aware of certainly that high school parents are not aware of.

And I think it’s a great point that that administrative role is really critical to be able to give your assistants that opportunity. Because a lot of times we know, yeah, we got to give them more responsibility on the floor and maybe let them run this drill. Or they’re in charge of sideline out of bounds, or they’re in charge of late game situations or whatever it might be.

But a lot of times what trips guys up when they do get finally to have a head coaching job, it’s like, man, I didn’t realize that I had to do all these other different things that [01:04:00] when I was an assistant, I just had the coach on the floor. And as a head coach, you obviously know that that’s not all you have to do.

[01:04:07] Matt Monroe: Yeah, it’s actually a small part of it. You know, it’s obviously a very important part of it, but you know, the day-to-day operations and the administrative side certainly a huge part of it as well. And that’s one of the things that I agree with you. I see guys kind of getting into it for the first time.

It it’s a little bit of a shock to their system with all the stuff they have to do beyond what happens in practice in games. And I think you know, if you have that preparation at least you, you can see a little bit of a window into what to expect. I think that prepares you greatly for when you do take over I think nowadays and coaching, you see coaches sticking around isle a lot less in terms of longevity.

And I think a big part of it is not having mentors to help guide them through it and, and to help support them. But I also think part of it is just not understanding the full scope of. Being a head coach entails there’s that romantic side where you’re thinking [01:05:00] about drawing up the game, winning play at you know, during a time out at the end of a championship playoff you know, and that’s certainly awesome and it’s fun and that can be a part of it, but there’s much more to it in terms of developing a successful program that has sustained success, not just a team that wins a few games in a given year,

[01:05:20] Mike Klinzing: You’ve mentioned a couple of times the importance that mentors have played in your life and your career.

So if you were going to give advice to coaches that are out there listening about a why they should have a mentor, and then what that mentoring relationship should look like, if it’s healthy, what would you say to coaches about mentoring and mentorship?

[01:05:46] Matt Monroe: I think having a mentor has been one of the most impactful things on, on my career.

And I’ve had a number of different mentors that have different experiences in coaching. You know, I mentioned Ken Davis, [01:06:00] who was the coach at lake forest college and Mike Daley at St. Pat’s Jim Tracy, who was at Revis and leads our coaches association, and a number of others. Coach pap is growing up at Deerfield.

You know, those guys they give you insight. They’ve been through the battles and they’ve been through the wars and, and they give you your perspective. One of our coaches at our school and on our girl’s side time, McKenna has been a tremendous mentor to me. I used a hall of fame coach as well, and I think having someone to bounce ideas off of, or to share your experiences with or seek advice of, okay, Are invested in you, but aren’t there at your practices on a day-to-day basis.

They kind of have a little bit of an outside perspective, I think is invaluable. I’ve used my mentors in, in so many different ways. Whether it was something that I was struggling with or an area I thought I needed to improve, or if I was just seeking validation from, from someone I trust. I think the biggest part of the mentor relationship is to, to have that open and honest conversation.[01:07:00]

Like I know each of the guys that I mentioned that I go to for advice and that I talked to that there’ll be honest with me. And you know, they’re not afraid of hurting my feelings because they know that they have my best interests in mind, and they have been invaluable, I think to my growth and to my journey as a coach.

And certainly the, the assistant coaches that we’ve had on staff have done the same thing. And I think having that combination of a fantastic staff, that’s there to support you and, and challenge you when it’s needed. And to have those mentors that are not with you every day to, to help guide you in is absolutely paramount.

I think if more younger coaches found mentors to rely upon, I think it would make their journey a little bit easier as well.

[01:07:42] Mike Klinzing: I love that concept of the mentor, not being immersed in the day to day details where they’re just not caught up in it. The same way that you as the head coach are you as an assistant coach are, and instead they can kind of look at it objectively.

They don’t [01:08:00] know. Any of your players on a personal level. So they’re looking at this from a high level situation. And I think oftentimes that brings, as you said, an outside perspective that can be refreshing and can get you to see something that maybe you would not have been able to see on your own. And I think no matter what walk of life you’re talking about, whether it’s coaching, whether it’s in your career, whether it’s as a teacher, we know that you know, mentoring teachers that have a mentor to come in and their first year and they’re assigned to a mentor and they really build a good relationship that those teachers are much likely to stick around in the teaching profession.

And so I think it’s proven over time that if you do have a mentor, if you do have somebody that you can confide in that you’re ultimately going to be end up being in a much better place in whatever your chosen profession is. And certainly that’s the case for coaching as we get towards the end of our time that I want to give you a chance to answer one more final question, two parter.

You’re being. Challenge as [01:09:00] you look ahead over the next year or two, and then your greatest joy when you wake up in the morning and you think about what it is that you get to do every day. What brings you the most joy? What puts a smile on your face?

[01:09:12] Matt Monroe: My biggest challenge. Is well, so we were going to have a pretty good team this year and everyone asks us how we’re going to be an, I always tell them well, as long as the coach stays out of the way, I think that might be one of the challenges just to stay out of the way.

No, to be honest. I think looking at, at our program you know, I took over from a coach that was an absolute legend coach Keough, his name’s on the floor and he’s a good friend of mine and I always respected him from afar and then got to know him really well. Personally taking over from him though, we, we kind of had to build things back up a little bit in our program and we reached a spot where we feel like we’re in a position to be really successful this year.

We’ve had a, our last couple of years have had really good seasons and we feel great about our prospects this year. So I think one [01:10:00] of the challenges is to really not through. Y, we all fell in love with basketball, whether it’s our coaching staff or our players, I think pre-season rankings and expectations that are high and, and the pressures that all of that entails.

I think sometimes it gets to you and, and certainly as a team or as a coach or as a player, when you’re going through that, You sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture and you sometimes lose sight of what your, why is. And so making sure during this year where there are high expectations, where there is a lot of pressure, making sure that we always come back to the basics and that we love the game and that we enjoy playing for our teammates and, and coaching our kids and not getting too high when things go really well and not getting too low when there’s moments of struggle.

So I think that’s key. The second challenge I would say is making sure me as a coach and, and us as a program, if we do continue to achieve the success that we’ve had the last couple of years, that we never [01:11:00] get that mindset that we’ve arrived, we always gotta stay hungry. We always gotta stay humble.

And we always got to continue to grow and evolve and to make improvements. And I think that that those two things while they certainly can be challenges, I think can also be you know, motivational keys to continue to success in the future in terms of my greatest joy. I love coaching. I’ve been wanting to be a coach since I was eight years old.

I had that one year when I was a little sidetrack from that, I wanted to be a coach as long as I can remember. And every day I wake up I count my blessings and, and I’m thankful for my family or for my wife for my friends and for my opportunity to be able to, to teach and coach at a school that’s so incredibly special.

It’s truly a blessing to be called coach. And it’s also a tremendous responsibility to the greatest joy I get from the actual coaching of basketball is working with such incredible people. I [01:12:00] enjoy spending time with our coaching staff and with our players, and I greatly value those, those lifelong lasting relationships that are developed.

And I hope that through those relationships and through basketball, that we can also have a positive impact on everyone we come into contact with. And that’s where coaching is for me

[01:12:18] Mike Klinzing: It really is. That’s very well said. I think when I look back and reflect upon my life, and I think you do the same, that basketball plays such a central role in who I am, but also who I know and who I’ve been fortunate enough to come in contact with.

And who’s influenced me over time. And basketball has just been something that I could’ve never imagined when I picked up a ball when I was whatever, four years old, five years old, just throwing that ball up towards the hoop on my driveway, the, the things that the game has been able to do for me and that things that hopefully through whether it’s this podcast or coaching or [01:13:00] camps or whatever else it is that.

We do that. We are able to give back and make the game a better place and have an impact. As you said, on the young people that we get an opportunity to come in contact with before we wrap up Matt, I want to give you a chance to share how people can reach out to you, how they can find out more about you and your program, whether you want to share social media, email, website, whatever you feel comfortable sharing with our audience.

And then I’ll jump back in and wrap things up.

[01:13:27] Matt Monroe: Awesome. Thanks. So our school is saying the nation’s college prep. Our website is My personal social media, it’s literally all basketball stuff. It’s @coachmmonroe. And then I’m on Instagram and Twitter. Our programs handle is on both of them as ICPBB.

So certainly if anyone wants to keep in touch with our program, those are probably the best ways to do it. I just kind of learned how to post Instagram stories a [01:14:00] few weeks ago. So I think our content has gotten a little bit better on our program page.

[01:14:05] Mike Klinzing: Nice work. You’re probably one step ahead of me on Instagram.

So coach Jason supposed to take over that Instagram for me, man, someday, someday, he’s going to do that. So if he stops having kids, we’ll have to wait and see if that ever happens. So good luck. Yeah. Yeah. I hear you. I hear you. Well, Matt, we can’t thank you enough for taking the time out of your schedule to jump out with us.

We are super appreciative of your time. Love the conversation. There was so much in there that I think coaches can take away that can help them to grow and do all the things that we talked about tonight and just to evolve and become better coaches and continue to have an impact on the players that they touch on a day-to-day basis.

So thank you. And to everyone out there, who’s a part of our audience. We appreciate you listening and we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.