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Travis Schwab is entering his 6th year as the head men’s basketball coach at Muskingum University.
Schwab arrived at Muskingum after a highly successful eight-year tenure at Wittenberg University. Under Schwab’s tutelage, numerous Tiger student-athletes have been honored with All-NCAC accolades.
Prior to Wittenberg, Schwab was assistant men’s basketball coach at Kenyon College during the 2006-07 campaign. He helped lead the Lords to double-digit wins for the first time in more than a decade and developed multiple student-athletes who were recognized with All-NCAC honors.
Schwab started his collegiate coaching career at Heidelberg University as a graduate assistant coach from 2004-06.
Schwab, a 2004 Ohio Wesleyan University graduate, is one of only two only players in NCAC history to be selected first-team all-conference four consecutive years during his career in the Ohio Wesleyan program. Following his senior season, Schwab was named to the prestigious National Association of Basketball Coaches All-America Team. Schwab’s 1,985 career points rank second on the Ohio Wesleyan career scoring list and third on the NCAC’s all-time list. He also holds the NCAC Tournament record for points in a game with 40 against Wooster in the 2004 semifinals.
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Grab your notebook and take some notes as you listen to this episode with Travis Schwab, Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio.
What We Discuss with Travis Schwab
- How his Dad got him started in the game
- Being able to work on the game by himself and not needing anyone else to practice with
- Priding himself on outworking other players when he played for Coach Keith Sooy at Medina (OH) High School
- When he decided to be good at basketball, he was all in
- Advice from his Dad, “If you want to be a great player, you, as a big guy, have to be a threat to score or get fouled.”
- Studying Akeem Olajuwon’s Post Moves and footwork
- His senior year at Medina and winning a District Title
- Growing up wanting to play for Grove City College because his Dad had played there
- How he ended up at Ohio Wesleyan after almost committing to Baldwin Wallace
- Scoring 33 points in his very first college game
- How he a conversation between his Dad and Coach Duane Sheldon led to his first coaching opportunity at Heidelberg College
- Having a lot of responsibilities in his first year and how that benefited him in his career moving forward
- Channeling his competitiveness as a player into coaching and recruiting
- Setting a goal early on to become a D3 head coach in the state of Ohio
- His experience recruiting at a high academic school like Kenyon College
- Getting hired at Wittenberg and learning from Coach Bill Brown for 8 seasons
- You have to have an identity as a coach and figure out what you stand for and believe in
- The process for building a database of potential recruits
- Togetherness, competitiveness, and toughness are the three traits he looks for in players at Muskingum
- Building a network of high school and AAU coaches to aid in the recruiting process
- Things he looks for when watching a game beyond a player’s skill and talent
- His first question “Does the player love basketball?”
- How does a player handle a change in their role?
- How he builds a genuine relationship with recruits and why trust is so important
- Why loving the game is especially important at the D3 level due to the off-season coaching restrictions
- Why he looks for self-starters
- The high quality of play in D3 basketball, especially in the state of Ohio
- The diversity of his players at Muskingum
- Asking players to share what their home town is like and what he learned from that question
- Building relationships by spending time
- Using self- reflection to improve as a coach
- Team trips to North Carolina and Las Vegas
- Advice for cutting out inefficiencies in practice through planning and preparation
- Why he uses so much 3 on 3 during practice
- Why he always has winner and a loser in every drill
- Competing with your teammates, but you’re also competing with yourself on a daily basis
- It’s a blessing and a curse to be part of the OAC
- Why he would coach college basketball even if there were no games
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THANKS, TRAVIS SCHWAB!
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TRANSCRIPT FOR TRAVIS SCHWAB – MUSKINGUM UNIVERSITY MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 370
[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here without my cohost Jason Sunkle tonight, but I am pleased to be joined by Travis Schwab, Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Muskingum University, Travis. Welcome to the Hoop Heads Pod.
Travis Schwab: [00:00:15] Hey, thanks for having me. I’ve been looking forward to chatting with you and hopefully we’ll have really good Informative talk.
Mike Klinzing: [00:00:22] Absolutely. I’m excited to be able to get you on dive into the things that you’ve been able to do in your coaching career. Want to start out by going back in time to when you were a kid, tell us a little bit about your first experiences with the game of basketball. What made you fall in love with it?
Travis Schwab: [00:00:37] I fell in love with the game of basketball because my dad loved basketball and, probably like a lot of coaches out there. My dad was my first coach and I remember being in elementary school and always looking forward to basketball season. Cause it seemed like he was always a little bit more juiced up for basketball season.
So. You know, he, [00:01:00] neither of my parents push me either way in any sport. They wanted me to find what I was passionate about and clearly basketball was it so when I think back to getting started in this game so much that it goes back to my Dad.
Mike Klinzing: [00:01:19] What was it about basketball and what was it about your dad that made basketball be the sport as opposed to something else. Cause I’m sure you were a kid that probably played multiple things. What was it about basketball that stood out to you?
Travis Schwab: [00:01:35] The thing I fell in love with basketball was it was the one sport that I could work on, absolutely by myself, in my driveway.
And we had a hoop growing up right there and I just love to be out there and I didn’t need anyone to throw me any pitches. I didn’t need a anyone [00:02:00] catch a pass, like a quarterback. I could just go out in my driveway and the, just myself, the ball and the basket. And daydream and I can honestly say in my mind, I’ve scored a hundred points in every ACC gym in America, but, and that’s how I worked on my game.
Growing up is playing little games in my mind and it was just something that. I liked that alone time. I appreciated that alone time. I was passionate about trying to get better. And I remember my dad telling me that this is the one sport that you can work on absolutely by yourself.
And I fell in love with that. early on, just being out in the driveway shooting.
Mike Klinzing: [00:02:49] Who did you pretend to be, or who did you play pretend you were playing against when you were in your driveway games.
Travis Schwab: [00:02:54] Oh, I was a, it it was kind of the flavor of the month, whoever I really liked, [00:03:00] you know, I would be I’d play for Coach K at Duke in my mind one day, then I’d play for Dean Smith at North Carolina the next, Clemson, Virginia, that I was on them all in my mind. So I still to this day don’t necessarily have a favorite team. I just really enjoy watching basketball and. That even started at a young age, never really had a favorite team.
Just always look forward to whatever game was on ESPN.
Mike Klinzing: [00:03:27] When did you start to take the game more seriously. And from a standpoint of, at first, it’s just fun to be out there by yourself and playing these mental games in your head. And you just know that you love the game. When did it start to become something that you really wanted to focus on and you started to say, I really want to get better at this because I want to have some long-term success as a player in the game.
When did that turn for you? Do you remember a specific moment or maybe a by year, a grade where it really turned for you?
[00:04:00] Travis Schwab: [00:04:01] It really turned from me when, between my eighth grade and freshman year of high school, I set a goal for myself. You know, I, I grew up in Medina, Ohio went to Medina high school, and Keith Sooy was the varsity coach at Medina High School back then.
And I. I had set a goal for myself and Medina has had a very good basketball tradition and they were really loaded when I was entering high school, but I set a goal for myself as a freshman that I wanted to play JV, and I didn’t want to play freshmen basketball. I wanted to work so hard. The coach soy had to put me on the junior varsity team.
And when, when I accomplished that goal, I realized that one I was growing I’ve always. Very tall and very slender. And, but I was growing, I was about six, probably six, four. At that point. And, I started to realize that I could be pretty good at this game [00:05:00] if I put in the necessary time and effort.
And it was, it was one of those things you achieve. One goal let’s set another goal. And the next goal was to make the varsity team as a sophomore on a extremely loaded team. And I accomplished that. And then it was just, let’s challenge yourself to the next goal, to the next goal, to the next goal.
I was relentless worker, I was not blessed with great athleticism. still I’ve never dunked a basketball. And, but I figured out probably that eighth, ninth, grade years that I could outwork people though. And that’s what I’ve always prided myself on.
Mike Klinzing: [00:05:40] What did that look like when you say outwork people, describe what your method was for improving in the off season between your eighth and ninth grade year between your ninth and 10th grade year. What did it look like for you getting better? Was that finding pickup games? Was that working out by yourself, in the gym? [00:06:00] How did you go about figuring out what your plan was going to be to try to improve?
So you could meet the goals that you were setting for yourself.
Travis Schwab: [00:06:09] I would make sure that at the end of each day, that I could honestly look inwardly and know that there was no one around that worked harder than me. So to answer your question, that the general answer is yes. So I was going to spend more time in the gym alone, I was going to spend more time playing pickup games. I was going to be the first person to open gym and the last person to leave. And I was going to get up more shots than you were that day. And, and I was also going to play with kind of a reckless abandon and play as hard as I could at all times, whether it was in the gym by myself or I was in a new game.
It wouldn’t matter if there was no. There was no taking it easy. I [00:07:00] when I decided to go be good at basketball, I was all in and I really had no other interests that I was just going to work on my game with a very singular focus. And that was to maximize my potential. I didn’t know what that level was going to be back in high school, but I wanted whatever it could be. I wanted to maximize it.
Mike Klinzing: [00:07:23] And where did you figure out or find the drill? Those are the things that you worked on when you were in the gym shooting by yourself. Did you have a specific plan? Did you have a go to resource? Did coach soy provide you with, Hey, here’s what you should be working on? Is that something you came up with yourself?
How did you go about putting together your plan for what you were going to do when you were on the court by yourself, in the summertime?
Travis Schwab: [00:07:50] Well, I knew that I was about six, six. And so in high school I knew I was going to be a low block player. So I [00:08:00] read whatever books I could find, talk to whoever I could.
And Coach Sooy gave me a great number of drills. There was one alumni from Medina in particular named Tom Drake, who really, he played the college basketball at Grove City college. And he was probably 10 years older than me, but he was still around Medina and he gave me some, some footwork drills. He’s the first person ever taught me the Mikan drill and the reverse Mikan drill.
So I would work on those and work on my post moves around the basket. And as I got better around the basket, I remember my dad saying it. If you want to be a great player, you, as a big guy, you have to be a threat to, to score or get fouled. Every time you touch the ball, he didn’t say you had to score.
He said you had to be a threat. To score, get fouled every time you’d touch the [00:09:00] basketball. And what that meant was is I had to start slowly expanding my range. You know, it went from around the basket to the 15 foot catch and shoot jump shot, and eventually worked my way to the three-line. Now Coach Sooy and eventually Coach Jodie Peters never let me shoot the three, not until I went to college was I able to shoot the three point shot, but I wanted to be that all around big man that could catch the ball at the three point line and drill a three or shot fake and beat you to the basket along with sealing you on the block and scoring with both hands in a variety of different moves.
So I started around the basket, tried to perfect that Akeem Olajuwon I mean, he was the best big in the world back when I was a kid in my mind. And so I’ve watched the dream shake and try to work on his, his foot work and his [00:10:00] hand placement and all that. And you know, it just progressed out from there.
Mike Klinzing: [00:10:06] Olajuwon’s a pretty good guy to emulate, just needed his athleticism and then you really have something, right?
Travis Schwab: [00:10:13] I did not
Mike Klinzing: [00:10:18] Totally understand. Totally understand. What’s your favorite memory of high school basketball. You have one or two that stick out to you when you think back to your time at Medina?
Travis Schwab: [00:10:25] Well, the, I would say a very general answer would be our senior year. Of the three teams, three varsity teams that I played on now, we always had good talent, but my senior year was probably the least amount of talent that we had, but we were the most together group. I mean, on and off the floor, we had tremendous team chemistry and it ultimately equated to us winning the district tournament, for the first time, since like 1982 or something like that.
[00:11:00] And we beat St. Ed’s who had Jawad Williams and a bunch of other really good players in the district finals and going to play Mansfield Senior out at the University of Toledo. Mansfield senior beat us, but just being able to go all the way out to Toledo on the bus and experience the regional tournament.
That’s, that’s my probably fondest memory of that year. Along with winning the conference title against Brunswick in front of a completely sold out crowd at Medina high school on what was a snow day, they usually never let us play on snow days. But it was such a big game that they knew there was no way we could not play the game that day.
So we, we just went through. And so those those two memories are the things that I still think back to my high school basketball experience at Medina. And remember, so fondly .
[00:12:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:11:59] A high school basketball player’s dream, and you have a snow day and you still get to play.
Travis Schwab: [00:12:04] It doesn’t get any better. Your arch rival. I mean, absolutely.
Mike Klinzing: [00:12:08] Doesn’t get any better than that? Alright, so while you’re at Medina, At what point do you start to think about the opportunity to play college basketball. When do you, when does that come on your radar as a goal? Was it something that you knew from the time that you entered high school that you wanted to do?
Just talk to me a little bit about when that came on your radar.
Travis Schwab: [00:12:32] It actually came at a very young age because my father played at Grove city college. And so when I was a little kid, I it could have been Duke and Grove City College were at the same level in my mind. So I may be the only player in the history of basketball that in late elementary school and early middle school was out in my driveway.
Working to try to earn a scholarship to Grove city college. [00:13:00] It’s awesome. And a little did I know that they were division three, they didn’t offer athletic scholarships, but that’s what I was working towards. So it was always a goal of mine to play in college, because again, I was so solely focused on basketball you know, I didn’t really do a whole lot else.
As far as partying and going out chasing girls. I was a guy that wanted to be in the gym. And so I knew that maybe there was a possibility of playing in college, but I wanted to see. And, so I just worked and worked and worked with the goal of eventually getting somewhere to play because I just thought that would be the greatest experience in the world.
Playing college basketball. So at a young age, I thought I wanted to do it, but then as I got older and older and kept working, I knew it was a possibility. It’s just a matter of where.
Mike Klinzing: [00:13:57] All right. So what did that recruitment look like in terms [00:14:00] of ultimately deciding ending up at Ohio Wesleyan. Just talk about what the recruiting process was like for you, both in terms of your mindset and kind of how you were proceeding that recruiting, and then ultimately what led to your decision to go to Ohio Westland?
Travis Schwab: [00:14:17] The recruiting process was intense because, I mean, this was a time before cell phones and before texting. So the house phone would ring off the hook every single night and early on you’re so juiced up to be talking to college coaches and it was such an awesome thing to you want me to come play for you?
That’s wonderful, but eventually it wears on you though when the phone’s constantly ringing. I mean, I would venture to say most all of the OAC and NCAC schools recruited me. and you know, even some schools I never even heard of [00:15:00] were calling me and it was quite an honor, but I enjoyed talking to the coaches.
I insure enjoyed getting to know them. I enjoyed visiting their campuses, but I really wasn’t thinking about where I wanted to go. My mom and dad would nag me all the time. You know, you got to start thinking about college, Travis, you have to start thinking about college. Well, now I got a season and prepare for, or we’re in our season.
So I didn’t really start giving it a hard look until after the season ended. And then it was like a crash course. Well, I gotta go visit this place, this place and this place. And it’s funny that you have talked to Tom Heil at BW because Coach Bankson was the coach at BW for a long, long time, very, very successful coach and, and Baldwin Wallace recruited the snot out of me.
I think they may have been at every [00:16:00] single game of my senior year. And I built a good relationship with those guys and I remember. I was going to go play open gym in the spring with their guys, as I was getting down to the kind of decision making time pushing May 1st. And, I had told my parents, mom, dad, I think I’m going to go to Baldwin Wallace.
I even wrote the deposit check, but I had left it on the kitchen table when I went up to play open gym. So I was going to give it to Coach Bankson and then we’d be done. And, after open gym, He, he brought me back into his office and we were chatting and I said, coach Bankson I’m 99.9% sure I’m coming to Baldwin Wallace. And he was so pumped. Yeah. Yeah. I was excited. So I get in the car and I drive back to Medina and, as I’m walking in the door, the phone’s ringing [00:17:00] and I answered it and it was Mike Dewitt at Ohio Wesleyan, who I had built a very good rule relationship with and he talked me into coming for one more visit the following day, which was May 1st. And so my dad and I got in the car and drove down to Ohio Wesleyan and did the whole thing over again, had already been there. I had already met their guys, but wanting to see it a second time and something happened on that day where something really clicked. And I said, no, this is where I want to go. So needless to say the call to Coach Bankson, and after telling him I was 99.9% sure. I was going to Baldwin Wallace was quite a difficult one. I was not going there.
Mike Klinzing: [00:17:53] I’m sure it, wasn’t funny to coach banks. And at the time, I, I grew up going to coach banks since basketball [00:18:00] camp, as a kid and spent a lot of time playing at BW, whether it’s pick up games or just go in there and team camp and things when I was playing. And, so I had a lot of respect for certainly for Coach Bankson and what he was able to do at BW without question.
So what was the adjustment like when you get to Ohio Westland for you as a student, as a basketball player, what do you remember about coming in there as a freshman and the experience and how it was different from what you had experienced at Medina?
Travis Schwab: [00:18:32] You know, I enjoyed the college basketball environment and having a not being in class for seven, eight hours a day, give me a lot more time to be in the gym and being in the weight room.
I went to Ohio Wesleyan and I knew I was part of coach Mike DeWitt’s first recruiting class. So here was a young coach. Who he, he didn’t have time to recruit his first season, which [00:19:00] was my senior year. So he, he had just, he didn’t have great players at the time and they, their record wasn’t very good, but he sold me and eventually there was a nine other freshmen that came in with us, the opportunity to really change the culture and build something.
So we only had two seniors on the team. We had no juniors and a couple sophomores and then nine freshmen. So we, I didn’t know what we didn’t know. So we just worked our tails off. In fact we go down to Mount Saint Joe College of Mount st. Joe to open from the season and I scored 33 points in my first college game.
I’m saying, dang, this is easy. This is, this is easy.
Mike Klinzing: [00:19:46] No, wait, you didn’t immediately transfer.
Travis Schwab: [00:19:48] Heck no. I guess things have changed here.
Mike Klinzing: [00:19:53] You might have, you might have this year that you might have, if you were, if you were growing up in 2020, you did that your first year, first game you’d have been looking for a higher [00:20:00] level immediately.
Travis Schwab: [00:20:01] Yeah, I knew I couldn’t apply. Yeah. When I say I’m on athletic. I can’t overemphasize that enough. Like I’m not very athletic at all. So I knew playing at a higher level. Wasn’t going to be for me, but to we went out that freshman year and there was many games early in the season where we started five freshmen.
And we did not, we didn’t win a whole bunch early in the season. You know, we were, Oh, and six, I think, going into our first conference game against Wittenberg university. And how it was land hadn’t beat Wittenberg and something ridiculous like 56 years. And here we go, we start five freshmen.
And by golly, we won and we didn’t, again, we didn’t know what we didn’t know. So, Hey, it’s first NCAC game. We’re wanting to know. And coach comes in the locker room after the game and tells us it’s been like 56 years [00:21:00] guys since we beat them. So at that point, we, we knew that if we could stay together, And really work.
We could build something and it was definitely a rocky road at times over my four years at Ohio Wesleyan, but you know, you look at where the program is now. And I’m very proud of the fact that I was part of his first recruiting class to really get that thing kicked off.
Mike Klinzing: [00:21:28] Yeah. I think when you get a chance to.
How build something and feel like you were a part of that foundation. It’s something that is really exciting. And as you said, when you can look back on the program that you played on and see the success that they’ve been able to have, it definitely gives you a sense of pride. I know that I feel that way with Kent state and the fact that I played.
And while we were there, we had two really good years while I was there. I went to the nit twice and then we had to, I would say more difficult years. And then [00:22:00] 10 years after I graduated in 2002, they’re one game away from the final four. And if you’d have told me that the program that I played in would have been able to get to that level.
I don’t know that I would have believed you, but I look at the sustained run of success that Kent state’s been able to have in the year, since I’ve been gone. And it just, it’s one of those things that you can certainly look back on with pride. And it’s fun to go to the games and know that you were some small, tiny little part in that program’s history.
And I’m sure that you feel the same way with Ohio Wesley and that you were kind of in, on the ground floor of. Of building something. I’m sure that is something that you take a tremendous amount of pride in.
Travis Schwab: [00:22:41] Absolutely. Absolutely. I look forward, I look forward to the day taking my kids back I’ve got two children now, a six year old and a three year old.
They’re they’re not really old enough to appreciate anything like that, but, no, how it was at Ohio Wesleyan [00:23:00] Basketball holds a near and dear place in my heart. And I just absolutely loved every single second of my experience playing hoops there
Mike Klinzing: [00:23:10] Is there one thing that stands out besides the one that you’ve already mentioned besides the ones you’ve already mentioned in terms of, when you think back on your time there, that sticks out to you as a particularly vivid memory.
Travis Schwab: [00:23:25] Oh, there there’s, there’s all sorts of, great memories we had some really, really tough games. Some really, I mean, the top of the league, especially was really good. And again, we were building, but probably the thing that sticks out to me the most is my senior year, we had a pretty good team and we ended up finishing 19 and eight.
And since Ohio Wesleyan won the national championship in 1988, there [00:24:00] hadn’t been a whole lot of success since that point. So, as a senior captain, as a senior leader of that team to take a team that the year before arrive, they were like four and 21 or five and 20. And leave there with a 19 and eight record.
And to be honest with you, I know more about the NCAA tournament and it’s required, we were probably one win away from securing an at-large bid. so I, the thing I take the most pride in is just how far the program came in four years. I was so lucky to play for two tremendous coaches, obviously coach Dewitt, being the head coach, but John Ellenwood, the head coach at Ashland now, he was our assistant for three years and, The those relationships and Coach Ellen would teaching me what [00:25:00] it truly meant to be a post player at the college level. And the fact that I was used to in high school, just being stronger than everyone, but he taught me angles.
He taught me proper foot work. He taught me that you didn’t really need post moves to be a score down there. You just had to do your work early and seal people. You know, and while God didn’t bless me with athleticism, he did bless me with a huge ass. So I was really good at sealing people down on the block.
Mike Klinzing: [00:25:29] Take advantage of what you got. And there’s no doubt about that.
Travis Schwab: [00:25:33] So I wouldn’t say that there’s one particular memory. It’s just kind of the whole thing that, I’m so prideful in and, just think back to so fondly.
Mike Klinzing: [00:25:44] Yeah, that’s awesome that you have such a positive experience. I think when you can do that, and it’s a credit to what coach was able to do.
And I think that when you talk to coaches, like we’ve been able to do on the podcast and so much of what good coaches [00:26:00] talk about is the kind of experience that they want to provide for the players that are part of their program. And it sounds like you were able to go through your four years and walk away with.
Nothing but positive memories of your experience as a student and as a basketball player at Ohio Wesleyan. And to me, that’s really what it’s all about. Obviously the wins and losses are important to us as coaches, but if you could have a bunch of kids that look back on the program that you were in charge of the way you look back on your time at Ohio Westland, I think anybody would be crazy to say that that’s not somebody who ran a successful program.
So thinking about that, And thinking about your playing career coming to an end. At what point did coaching come on your radar? Was that something that was with you from the time you were a kid and you always knew that at some point you want to get into coaching or was it a case of you got done playing and the game had been such a big part of your life that you looked around and said, Hey, I got to figure out a way to stay in this game.
How [00:27:00] did coaching come to be part of what you thought you might want to do for your career?
Travis Schwab: [00:27:04] Well, when I went to college, I funny stories. I was out shooting in the driveway right before I was about to leave for college. And, my dad called me up and said, we need to have a talk. And I said, okay.
So we sat on the back of his Chevy blazer at the, and what are you going to major in? And I said, well, I want to coach. And, ironically, every single one of my high school coaches from JV, I was a high school math teacher. So, well, I’m going to be a high school math teacher. I mean, I was young, naive, I didn’t know.
So I thought you had to be a math teacher in order to coach basketball. So I said, well, I want to be a math teacher. And he said, well, if you want to go that route. You know, you have two options. I’m not going to pay for your school. All you want to do is coach. You have to have a backup plan too. And so he talked me into at [00:28:00] least minoring in business also.
So I went to Ohio Wesleyan with, yeah. Hey, I’m whatever he says, but I’m going to be a math teacher. Cause I want to coach. And that lasted about the first 50 minutes of my college career when I took calculus and the teacher covered so much the first day and I called my dad and said, if all my classes are this difficult, I will fail out and be home by Christmas.
There’s no way I’m going to survive there. All this hard. So after walking out of that first calculus class, I knew that math teacher was not the route I was going to go. So focus on business still had the desire to coach had no idea how to get into it, but kind of put all that much. Like my college decision, I put off all that because I had seasons to prepare for.
But when it really struck me was when we [00:29:00] lost our final game, we played the college of Wooster at Wittenberg and the conference semi-finals and it was a great gain, a great game. I finished with 40 in my last game. So it was like, you start with 33, you finished with 40. It was nice. Good. That’s pretty good.
Mike Klinzing: [00:29:18] There’s not many guys that get this. I would bet in the history of college athletics, 73 points combined in your first game, in your last game. I bet that’s up there, right. In terms of the answer to that. But I think you’re going to have to have our crack research staff get out of that at some point.
Travis Schwab: [00:29:37] I knew that that was going to be my last game. You know, there, there was, there had been some interest in possibly going overseas, but I knew walking off the floor when it’s all over and walking off that floor, I remember [00:30:00] feeling two things.
One, I was, it was the most helpless feeling I’d ever had in my life because I has had invested so much into the game of basketball. And, but I knew that I was burned out. Yeah. Everything it took for me to be a good player. You know, again, all of my success was based on outworking other people and playing harder than other people.
And I was done. I even to this day, it’s been what almost hope, like what 16 years almost. I still haven’t lifted a weight since that day, because I was so burned out on lifting. I was so burned out on being in the gym that I knew that that was going to be my, that was going to be the end of my playing career.
And, I knew I wanted to coach, but I had no idea how to go about. Getting my foot in the door. And it’s, it’s just [00:31:00] amazing how life works out because it wasn’t probably two weeks after the season ended that Duane Sheldon, who was the coach at Midpark high school when I was in high school and Midpark was part of the pioneer conference.
We played them two times a year. So I had known Coach Sheldon a little bit. Well, coach Sheldon is now the coach at Heidelberg College and he’s at a Brunswick Medina game recruiting and he sits behind my dad. And, they get to talk in and find out who each other are. And coach Sheldon says, Hey, would Travis be interested in a graduate assistant position at Heidelberg?
Where I’m the head coach? So dad called me and asked me and I said, yeah, I’d be definitely interested and talking to him. So I called coach Sheldon and I kind of stumbled my [00:32:00] way into this profession with the help of, just I think coach Sheldon, every time I talk to him, because he gave me the opportunity to do what I love to do.
And, without him, I, it would have been a heck of a lot harder or try to break into this profession.
Mike Klinzing: [00:32:18] Yeah, absolutely. Duane and I were high school teammates, just full disclosure. So you came out, Duane was a junior when I was a senior, and was again a great teammate, a great player. And obviously someone who’s gone on to have a tremendous amount of success.
And it’s amazing. Whenever I talk to people, the amount of people that. He’s been able to touch as a coach and that he’s had an impact on both the players that have played for him and the people who have been a part of his staff. you know, again, I’m not surprised by the success that he’s had. I’ve known him since we were in elementary school.
And just to, again, a great guy, great coach was a great teammate back in high school and somebody that I’m [00:33:00] not surprised at all with the amount of success that he’s been able to have. So when you get that opportunity and. You go to Heidelberg. What are some things that were surprising to you about coaching that maybe you didn’t realize when you were playing?
What stood out for you as like, man, I didn’t realize coaches spend all this time doing that. Or man, I didn’t know that they had to do this. What were some things that were surprising to you?
Travis Schwab: [00:33:27] Well, the first thing was the pay. So the pay was so, I mean, they paid me $1,000 a year and paid for my graduate school.
So I didn’t get into this for the big paychecks. But, the second thing was as a player, Yeah, you may put in a lot of extra time getting there early, staying late, but you have no idea how much time goes into preparing for practice for preparing for games, obviously recruiting. And, it was, it was shocking to me.
just, [00:34:00] you know, coach, you just don’t show up at three 30 and we practice, like you have to spend hours in the morning planning this stuff, like. Wow. And, so just the amount of time, I also, it was, it was difficult as a young coach, that things that came easy to me didn’t come easy to everyone else.
And I had to really evaluate how I was going to teach things that I didn’t really have to think about when I played. And, so I spent a lot of time thinking about how I was going to teach, and I was really fortunate because. In the Heidelberg situation with Coach Sheldon, he didn’t have any full time assistant coaches.
He only had two GA’s. So there was two of us, both young and, and green. And, but he threw us into the fire as if we had been coaching for years and years and gave us a ton of responsibility and, you [00:35:00] know, showed us how to do it, but then let us run with it. He hired good people that were hard workers.
And, and we went with it and, so it was really kind of a trial by fire getting our feet. but again, I can’t emphasize that’s enough of what a great leader we had to follow through the whole thing. So.
Mike Klinzing: [00:35:20] Yeah, I think one of the keys, and this is kind of been a theme that’s run through the podcast with guys who have started out in a similar position to you where maybe they were on a staff that didn’t have it, a huge number of people.
And therefore they ended up having to do way more things than they might have done. Let’s say, had they been a GA at a division one school where you have a staff of eight or 10 guys and all those responsibilities are split up. Instead, you kind of got thrown into the fire, as you said, and had to do all these things.
Talk a little bit about how that benefited you moving forward in your coaching career. Just being able to have your hands in all these [00:36:00] different things early on.
Travis Schwab: [00:36:02] You know, I have no idea what a division one GA does. I don’t know exactly what they’re responsible for, but all I know is that I got experience in every aspect of coaching basketball while at Heidelberg college. We were responsible for as, as all assistants are a vast majority of the recruiting, especially early on.
So. You know, I’ll tell you what, I don’t know if I’ve been more scared my whole life then making those first couple of recruiting calls. Cause I had no idea what I was doing, calling people’s houses and didn’t have a clue what to even say. Cause coach is like, well, it’s like making friends talk to them as if you’re trying to well, okay.
That doesn’t help me a whole lot, but we’ll run with it, but, recruiting, but also too, practice planning, game planning I don’t know how [00:37:00] many GA’s necessarily have scouting reports that they’re responsible for. And we work like we were responsible for it, preparing the team to play in the OAC.
I got to do a scouting report on John Carroll who is absolutely loaded. And I know they have so much more talent than you. We had a back then and, how are we going to try to attack them? And, So I just learned so much about. Not only coaching basketball, recruiting, but also the relationship building and how player to player relationships are totally different than player to coach.
And even though I’m only 22 years old first year out of school I am in a kind of a mentor to these guys that may only be eight months younger than me and how you manage those relationships and, and [00:38:00] still make sure they know you’re the coach and, and they’re the player.
And but the crazy thing is, is even while I was learning, not really knowing what the hell was going on, the relationships I built during those. Two years at Heidelberg with the players. Many of them are just such dear friends even to this day.
Mike Klinzing: [00:38:22] I think that’s something that when you talk about coaching and clearly we all get caught up in the wins and the losses, and those are things are important, but it’s those relationships that you can build.
And we’ll probably talk about that more as we go on tonight, but the relationships that you build and the friendships that you build with players, To me, that’s ultimately where your success lies when the impact that you can have as a coach is somebody that 20 years after you coach them, that you still have a relationship with them.
And you know, they’re still calling you coach because they have that much respect for that player, [00:39:00] coach relationship. It’s just such a unique profession in that way, in terms of how you can impact. The players, the students, the kids that are in front of you that are part of your team. And I wanted to ask you this because I think it’s relevant.
And I think about my own situation as a player, when you first got into that year of coaching at Heidelberg was coaching. Did you immediately, did you immediately love it? Did it totally replaced playing? How did you feel about that transition from. Playing to coaching in terms of your passion for the game.
In other words, was coaching immediately as desirable, as exciting as playing headband, or was it something that it grew on you, as you figured out more about what it was all about?
Travis Schwab: [00:39:53] Probably not. You know, it probably wasn’t as rewarding right out of the shoot as playing was [00:40:00] because there’s just something special about playing basketball with your team, with your best friends and competing like crazy it’s, it’s always, it was a tough adjustment for me because, I wasn’t going to score any points, get any rebounds, make any assists my, my job and where I kind of. Focus, my competitive spirit was in the recruiting side of things.
And I still to this day, believe that recruiting is something that you can out work people at. And that’s kind of been my mo as employer. And so I kinda focused all that competitive energy into my job on the recruiting side. And if you told me you were making 10, 10 recruiting calls a night, I was going to make 15, so on and so forth.
And you just channel it a little bit differently, as a coach, but and that’s, [00:41:00] that’s part of the reason why you get into coaching is because you are so competitive. You have those that competitive fire in your gut. And, and you know, I just redirected it and tried to, tried to apply it, apply that competitive spirit and a little bit different way.
Mike Klinzing: [00:41:18] Yeah, something that players sometimes struggle with when you have to walk away and then you go into whether it’s staying in coaching or whether you go into another profession, if you really loved to play, I think it becomes really difficult to replace it. And sometimes it’s not an immediate process.
Sometimes it’s a growing into process where you have to get into it where you love. The grind of it. You love getting into building those relationships with players and really doing the things that make coaching, especially at the college level. So special. Was there ever a thought that obviously this opportunity comes at Heidelberg?
Coach Sheldon. [00:42:00] Did you ever think at some point that you might revisit the idea of coaching in high school or once you were at the college level, did you say, I think this is the right level for me. This is where I want to be.
Travis Schwab: [00:42:09] Well much like as a player where I’d set these intermediate goals for myself of making the JV team, making the varsity team, playing in college, becoming an all American there are all these goals. I said, so when I got into college coaching and really thoroughly enjoyed it. I set the goal for myself to become a division three head coach and, and I didn’t know how long it would take.
I didn’t give myself like a time, time limit like I better do this in five years or I’ll go find something else. No. It was one of those things. I’m going to work at this and see where this game takes me. But ultimately my goal is to be a division three head men’s basketball [00:43:00] coach in the state of Ohio.
And you know, you think about that. There’s, there’s probably maybe 30 jobs and so they’re hard to get. So I knew I had to really work hard, really hone my craft. Really proved that I can recruit quality talent. So hopefully someday an AD and a president would say, that’s our guy. That is our guy. So I worked at it and worked at it and worked at it, but again, it’s all about goal setting with me and I set that goal and I went to work to achieve it.
Mike Klinzing: [00:43:33] Alright. So after you get done with Coach Sheldon at Heidelberg, you get an opportunity at Kenyon. Tell us a little bit about how that opportunity came to pass.
Travis Schwab: [00:43:43] You know, and it’s amazing how life works. I didn’t really know Matt Curtsey, particularly well. When I was playing, he was the assistant coach at Capitol.
My senior year college, he got the [00:44:00] Kenyon job. And so he was probably in year four, by the time here I am yet again done with my graduate work. you know, there’s no full time job in Heidelberg. So I was looking for a job anywhere and had built a little bit of a network of coaches being out on the road, recruiting and just talking to people. So a former assistant was a teammate of mine at Ohio Wesleyan and he got out of coaching and, so I knew there was an opening there. So I called them and we struck up a conversation and, and really hit it off. And, he offered me that opportunity to join him at Kenyon.
And I jumped at it. It was a, you want to talk about night and day different experiences, Heidelberg college to Kenyon College. I mean, there’s probably, there’s probably not too [00:45:00] less similar institutions in the state of Ohio, but I learned so much about the game.
But what I really learned at Kenyon is because of their national footprint in recruiting they have very few Ohio kids is I learned how to recruit on a national level and where to find kids have the super high academic standards and it was a totally different recruiting experience at Kenyon because of their timetables.
You know, the application deadline was hard and fast. If you didn’t get your app in by maybe it was January, you were not coming to Kenyon or at Heidelberg. I mean, we could have got kids in probably the second week. So putting those two remarkably different experiences together, I think even made me a more well rounded, coach, [00:46:00] especially on the recruiting side.
Mike Klinzing: [00:46:02] Yeah. It’s interesting. You don’t often think about the fact or the role that. The college itself plays. I think a lot of times when you’re thinking about college coaching, I’ve probably been guilty of this as anybody is. You kind of think that I don’t want to say all jobs are the same, but there certainly are different parameters and different restrictions and different constraints that you have depending on what the institution is.
Where you’re at in terms of their academics and just the campus and what type of school it is. And so I can imagine that it’s different, no matter, no matter where you are. So after you leave Kenyon, you get to another place that obviously has a rich basketball tradition in Wittenberg. So talk a little bit about that experience you had at Wittenberg.
Travis Schwab: [00:46:46] Wittenberg holds a place in my heart I spent eight years at Wittenberg, so I mean, I did a basically like two [00:47:00] full cycles of recruiting all the way through and Coach Brown. I had gotten to know Coach Brown. He recruited me a little bit out of high school and obviously playing at Ohio Wesleyan, his teams would beat our butts a lot cause they were so loaded. And you know, when I was grad school and then even at Kenyon, I knew I wanted to network. So I worked at basketball camps around the state. And again, my goal was to be a division three head coach. So I’d call everyone who had a basketball camp and ask if I could work it.
And a Coach Brown said yes, when I was at Heidelberg I had worked his camps for three or four years and really got to know him. And I looked at every basketball camp that I worked as a job interview. So I was going to work so hard. I was going to be so involved in trying to teach the kids, try to make a positive impression on these head [00:48:00] coaches, because you never know when you’re going to need one of them.
And sure enough, when Taylor got the head job at Ohio Dominican Coach Brown called me. And I know that he took a little bit of a risk because there were a lot of Wittenberg guys out there that I’m sure wanted to be the assistant at Wittenberg. And here he goes and he hires an Ohio Wesleyan guy.
He took a chance on me. He taught me. arguably he taught me more about the game of basketball than anyone maybe other than my father because he taught me how to dribble and shoot. But Coach Brown really taught me so much the defensive end of the court. You know, if you know anything about coach, his teams were always extremely good defensively and You know, the terminology, the way it all fit together.
I learned so much from cCach Brown and you know, when you spend eight [00:49:00] years together, the relationship just is so deep and meaningful. And I, I think of coach Brown as a second father he was there for me when my father passed away when I was work and him, and he, he kind of served as a father when I had.
You know, questions about things going on in my life. There, that’s the guy that I would go to. And, and even to this day I’m not a fraud, afraid to say that I love bill Brown. And I tell him that every time we talk, because he took a chance on me, but he, he let me be myself three years.
He let me coach the way I wanted to coach. he let me be an integral part in the winningest division three basketball program in America. And, he let me put my fingerprints all over that program for eight years. And so, I mean, I met my [00:50:00] wife at what Merck so Wittenberg will always, always be near and dear to my heart.
Mike Klinzing: [00:50:06] So what is one or two things that you learned during your time at Wittenberg that you took with you when you became a head coach that you feel have been integral to your success, that you’ve been able to have to this point at Muskingum?
Travis Schwab: [00:50:27] Emphasis on defense and rebounding. you know, a lot of people say that their defense and rebounding guys Coach Brown lives it.
And, I joke with them and I know our guys used to get so mad because for like the first week of practice, We wouldn’t barely touch a basketball. We’d be down in a stance, working on reach steps, working on block outs, working on shell defense, working on help and recover close outs. And the list goes on and on and on.
[00:51:00] But he taught me that you have to have an identity as a coach. And you can’t, as he’s grab that play, grab bag, pull this from this, this, from that, you have to have a philosophy that drives you. And his was clearly, we’re going to be really good on the defensive end and we are going to out rebound you buy 10, rebounds a game.
And if we do that, the offense will take care of itself. Now when you’re at Wittenberg, a lot of times you just have better players, so you can, the offense oftentimes took care of itself. And we would just pound the ball to the block because our big guys were bigger and stronger than yours. And we’d play inside out basketball that way.
But I can promise you, our big guys would get down in a stance and they would guard, and I’ve tried to carry a lot of that side of the ball over to Muskingum.
Mike Klinzing: [00:51:54] When you do and build your philosophy, how much of it is based [00:52:00] upon, I think there’s always a balance between learning from the coaches that you’ve been around and learning the things that you know, you want to do.
And then clearly everybody’s philosophy and way of going about things are slightly different. So I think oftentimes you learn and see things that. You say, I want to do it differently, or I wouldn’t want to do that. So how much, when you became a head coach, how did you develop your own personal philosophy based off of the experiences that you previously had with the great head coaches that you were able to work underneath?
Travis Schwab: [00:52:38] Well, I probably made a mistake early on of just trying to implement the Wittenberg way. And Muskingum is an absolutely wonderful place and so was Wittenberg, but they’re remarkably different. And, so I probably made a mistake early on and trying to be too much like Bill Brown and not enough of Travis Schwab [00:53:00] and it’s taken me a, a little bit to find I’ve and I’m being brutally honest here.
I’ve had a couple of years where there’s been a massive argument between my heart and my head, because my heart knows how I want to play, but my head doesn’t didn’t know if we were able to play that way. And my heart wants to play inside out basketball, but I look at, my personnel the first five years and we were very guard heavy.
So we played a more guard oriented. offensive scheme and I, I’m more of a bill Brown Wittenberg type guy, so it’s taken us a little bit to recruit the players to try to play that way. But I’m tired of that argument going on between my heart and my head, and we’re going to go with my heart and, I’m excited.
Mike Klinzing: [00:53:54] All right. So let’s talk, recruiting and thinking about how you. Identify [00:54:00] the type of players that are going to be a good fit for your program. Your style of play your school. Tell me a little bit about how you generate your initial list of players. And then once you identify and zero in on the guys that you really want, what’s the next step in the process to start to.
Work on them to see if you can get them. And if there’s a mutual interest in them coming and being a part of the Muskingum basketball program, what is the recruiting process look like for you?
Travis Schwab: [00:54:30] I think most division threes, the recruiting process starts the same way you build a database.
It’s probably bigger than most casual fans would ever imagine that it would be if if you want to bring in five guys, you best not just recruit five guys because at the division three level, when there’s no athletic scholarships involved you have a better chance of getting zero of those five guys.
So you’ve got to build a big database. You do it through AAU, you [00:55:00] do it through networking. You do it through. Camps all those it’s not rocket science, how to build a, build a network, but then the really fun part comes and that’s the relationship building. And I really enjoy that part of recruiting and you know, I here at Muskingum we, we do have a niche and it if you want.
You know, any player that wants Ohio state in their backyard. We’re not the place for them. If you want to be able to go down to progressive field or the flats right down, down the road from you, we’re not the place for you. But if you’re looking for a place where you’re going to get a great education, you’re going to make relationships that last a lifetime, and you’re going to really get to know your professors.
This is the place that those type of kids really thrive. And, so as we go through the recruiting process, you get, [00:56:00] you get to know these kids really, really well, and you find out what’s important to them. And I’m looking for guys that want to play team basketball want to share the ball, want to have.
Great enthusiasm for their teammates when their teammates succeed. But I’m also so looking for guys that are competitive as hell and tough as nails. All right. Togetherness, competitiveness, and toughness are the three traits that I think are going to really propel this program forward into, into kind of a new era.
I’m tired of wrestling with myself. We’re moving forward the way I want to play. And it’s all about togetherness, competitiveness and toughness.
Mike Klinzing: [00:56:43] All right. So you’re out on the recruiting trail and you’re looking for those three traits in a player. How much do you weigh? The high school experience versus the AAU experience.
And how much are you talking to, to [00:57:00] the high school coach? The AA coach. Just talk about maybe the balance between how you weigh the two when you’re evaluating a player and then maybe even talk about, are you looking for the same things when you watch a high school game as a, a new game, or you’re looking for something different, depending on what setting you’re seeing the player in.
Travis Schwab: [00:57:21] Obviously any network you can have, whether it be the high school coach or the AAU coaches is really beneficial in recruiting. So you get to know all those peoplee in the summer, what you’re looking for is probably more offensive skill, AAU, you can find out who can really play, who can shoot, who can shoot off the move, which big guys can play both inside and outside basketball, you see that you see the offensive skill is oftentimes more emphasized in the summertime and AAU. so that you got to watch that because obviously [00:58:00] the games a heck of a lot easier when the ball goes in the basket. So you need guys that can put the ball in the basket where you find kind of those intangible traits.
I find they’re easier to identify during the high school season because you’re, you’re watching these kids get coached really hard day in and day out. You’re watching them play in front of packed houses. How do they handle that? Are they mentally tough to deal with an opposing crowd? Are they mentally tough to handle when the coach calls a timeout for the sole purpose of yelling at them, are they are they truly committed to the most important stat and that’s winning. All right. And, are they willing to turn down a good shot to get a teammate, a great shot? I think you see those things a lot more in the high school season than necessarily you do in the AAU season.
I like to see which kid. In [00:59:00] both is willing to whether it be an 8:00 AM game in the summertime in July or the conference championship game in February, which kid is eight, is willing and able and wants to dive on the floor after that loose ball, sell out into the bench to save a loose ball, who’s willing to.
You know, block out every time. Those are the things that are important to me and obviously you can see different things at different times of the year, but I guess I really like watching the high school game, I enjoy the AAU game, but I love the high school game.
Mike Klinzing: [00:59:38] When you sit down with a high school players, coach, and you’re having a conversation about what type of kid. This player is, and whether or not he’d be a good fit for what you’re trying to build. What are some of the questions that you might ask a high school coach about that player? When you’re trying to determine whether he’d be a good [01:00:00] fit for you?
Travis Schwab: [01:00:03] Does he love basketball as the first question? If he loves the game and I mean, truly loves the game, that’s something we can work with. So does he love the game? How are his grades? What’s his family situation like, all right. And is he willing to do the, how has he handled maybe when you’ve asked them to maybe change their role a little bit, because very few freshmen come in and impact the game the way they did in high school. A lot of times that role changes in the ones that accept the change in their role. You typically have more success. So I want that, I want the coaches, to be honest with me if he’s, if this is a kid that you need the beg to get in the gym is always making excuses.
Why he couldn’t be at open gym in [01:01:00] June. because of this, this and this does he really love the game? I want guys that love the game. Oh, I want guys that love to identify the holes in their game and then spend the off season filling them. but I also want guys. That understand that this is division three, basketball and winning and losing is very important, but their education has to be the number one priority.
Alright. We all have a finite number of days that we can put on the uniform. And that represents something much bigger than ourselves. I mean, even LeBron. Has a finite number of days. Maybe the difference is when his days run out, he’s got a billion dollars in the bank account. Our guys have to rely on their own education.
So a Muskingum Muskie is a guy that understands that education is priority a. But there’s no reason why basketball can’t be priority one day. All right. And then everything else falls in behind [01:02:00] it. So if you love basketball, if you’re committed to getting your education and you’re willing to do whatever it takes to help our program win.
And obviously we wouldn’t be recruiting if we didn’t think you had a lot of skill. So those are the guys we’re looking for. And those are the guys that we are I want to build a great relationship with because relationships are important in an era with social media and all this, nothing goes further than a phone call.
I want to talk to these kids on the phone. I always tell them, I’m going to ask you is maybe some dumb questions. You know, my son is the world’s biggest NASCAR fan. I may ask you about NASCAR and they usually look at me like I’m crazy, but you know, my son will tell you every racer and how many races he’s won and what number he is, and you know where his best finish is, you know? So I, to tell you that about me, but I want you to not be afraid to tell me [01:03:00] crazy things about you, because ultimately you’re going to pick to come play for me because you trust me, you trust my vision, and you believe our relationship is stronger than you have with any other coach.
Mike Klinzing: [01:03:12] All right. I want to come back to that relationship piece. I want to ask you a little something about the love of the game and why that’s so important, especially at the division three level. Think about at your level, the fact that in the off season, that you can’t have contact with your players on the floor and do any skill development with them, with them at the division three level.
Talk about how that love of the game translates into. Your guys improving from the time the season ends in the spring to when you guys reconvene back in the fall and why that love of the game is so important in that intervening time, especially at your division three level,
Travis Schwab: [01:03:51] Well, you better love the game and you better be a self motivated player that loves the game, because if you’re the kind of guy that [01:04:00] needs a personal trainer to put you through drills.
And, if you’re a guy that Isn’t in love with just getting on the gun and shooting, then the division three level is going to be hard for you because there is a lot of alone time in the gym because by NCAA rules, I’m not allowed to be in there working you out until October 15th.
Once the season ends. So, and obviously we’re going to want you to improve. We’ll, we’ll help give you some direction, but, you need to be a self starter and really love the game to go in there when no one’s watching and, and really sweat. And even to this day, I could go in there and just shoot around and make a whole bunch of shots.
But are you willing to put in the work. When I’m not in there with you with none of my staff is in there. Pushing you, are you going to push yourself at [01:05:00] game speed, game intensity? And if you don’t love the game enough to do that in the off season, then I don’t know if this, if this is really gonna be for you, because you’ve got to be a self starter at this level, because there’s, there’s not you come from here, school there’s four person workouts all year long, then you.
You know, the freshmen come to our level. They say, well, one of the four person, October 15th, the whole team workout stuff. So it’s an adjustment. But if you love the game and you love to be in the gym this division three level is a wonderful place and division three level, doesn’t get the credit it deserves. It’s a really good basketball, especially in the state of Ohio.
Mike Klinzing: [01:05:43] Yeah. I couldn’t agree with you more. That’s one of the things that we’ve tried to get across to people. In the course of this podcast is just how good the level of play is at division three. I think if you went out and you did a.
Survey of high school basketball players [01:06:00] in high school, high school, basketball parents, especially those who are maybe not familiar with a lot of the recruiting process and just what it’s all about. I think there would be a huge misperception of how good you have to be to play college basketball. I tell this to people all the time, time that look, yeah, you have no understanding whatsoever of how good you have to be to be on a roster of a division three.
College, especially, like you said, here in the state of Ohio. And I just think the average, the average high school player and their parents has no understanding or no concept of. What that level of basketball is all about. And one of the other thing that’s surprising to me is that I’ve had a couple of different coaches on that have said that they’ve been recruiting players who were kind of in between the division three and maybe the division two level, and try to make a decision about where they’re going to go.
And in the course of their conversations with these recruits, they said, well, if you’ve gone and watched a division three game, have you gone and seen [01:07:00] what the level of play is like? And they’re always stunned by the number of. Players who answered that question with, I’ve never even been to a division three game to, to see it to see it being played.
And I think if you could, if you could take the a high school junior and put them out on the floor with some of your guys, you get your eyes opened really, really quickly in terms of how good the level of play is.
Travis Schwab: [01:07:24] Well, I encourage anyone who is, being recruited by any division three school.
If you have any question about the talent level, go pick any night of the week and go see an OAC game because the OAC is grown man basketball. And I think you will be blown away by not only how skilled everyone is, but how athletic these guys are. And there’s a reason why I think the OAC is the best league in America, but because it’s got really good players.
If you want to [01:08:00] see a really fun basketball game, that’s really cheap to get into go, come out and see any OAC game throughout the year. I think you’re going to be blown away.
Mike Klinzing: [01:08:11] Yeah, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. I just think it’s always interesting that the number of players who are again in the recruiting process to some degree that haven’t gone out and actually seen a game to see what that level of play is.
Because as you said, the level of plays super high, and then here in Ohio, clearly with the number of division threes we have and the number of just. Colleges that play basketball here in the state of Ohio, the recruiting competition is extremely competitive to be able to get guys to come to your school and be a part of your program.
And I want to talk a little bit now about what has been kind of a theme running through what you’ve said tonight, and that’s building relationships with your players. So when you think about building the kind of culture that you want to have around your program, it’s centered around those [01:09:00] relationships, the relationships that you as a coaching staff, Build your players, but it’s also built on the relationship from player to player.
So just talk maybe a little bit about what you do to help facilitate the relationships within your program.
Travis Schwab: [01:09:14] Well, we clearly design the three words that drive our culture are it’s togetherness, competitiveness and toughness, but we give under each of those words, we give them exactly what’s expected of them.
As far as togetherness. When you come out of the game, you’re going to get a high five from every single person on the bench. You’re going to be actively engaged, whether you’re in the game or not competitiveness, you’re going to dive on the floor. After loose balls. We have a very extensive list.
This year has been extremely different than most because here we’re talking about togetherness in an era in this covert era where everyone’s trying to keep our guys apart. And [01:10:00] so we’ve had to be a little bit more creative and how we’ve done this. We’ve had numerous socially distanced team meetings.
You know, I believe that for my team this year, To move forward together. We had to really look to where we all came from. And one of the things I absolutely love about coaching at Muskingum is when I was at Wittenberg, all you had to do was look at our team picture and you’d kind of see what we had to recruit.
And it was typically white. It was typically big. It was typically affluent. And there’s nothing wrong with that because we want a heck of a lot of games. We had a lot of really great students and a lot of really great players. But when I got to Muskingum, it’s opened the door to a much larger percentage of the population that I can legitimately go build relationships with and recruit. We have got guys from all walks of life. We’ve got [01:11:00] suburban kids. We’ve got inner city kids. We’ve got farm kids. We’ve got guys raised by mom and dad guys raised just by mom guys raised by grandma. We got guys with sleeves of tattoos, others that mom would kill them. If they got a tattoo, we’ve just got such a diverse group.
I’ve realized that for us to come together, we need to know where we’ve all been, where we’ve all been from. So I asked one question and it was amazing to see the answers that I got. And the, the simple question was guys, how would you describe your hometown? That was it. And we went around the room and guys explained I came from inner city, Akron.
I wanted to get away from some of the violence. So I came here because it was a great place to get a great education and get away from that. Another guy came from Portsmouth and he’s like, I need to get away from the heroin down there on the river. We’ve got one guy [01:12:00] from Pittsburgh, a very elite part of Pittsburgh where he wanted to get out of the elite, the arrogance that he felt like he grew up, so he came to Muskingum and just to hear everyone kind of describe where they came from. They still have a ton of pride in their hometowns, but it became abundantly clear that we all have a different perspective on life. And to hear all these different perspectives really brought this team closer together.
We have a number of these type of meetings where we talk about basically anything but basketball at this point in the year to try to. Encourage these guys to talk amongst one another to build relationships because you know, when it’s all said and done, and I think back to my playing career, I don’t remember every game.
I remember the highs of great wins. I remember [01:13:00] the heartbreak of tough losses, but what you never, what you never forget is the dumb ass stuff that happens in the locker room and the relationships that you built during your time playing. And so to me, yes. You know, how we close out to the basketball, how we guard a ball screen is also is very important, but it is not as important as the relationships that I need to build with the players and they need to build with each other.
And the only way to do that is to spend time together.
Mike Klinzing: [01:13:33] So those relationships and those meetings where you’re talking and sharing questions and just getting to know each other better are those things that. You continue through the season, whether it’s maybe just five minutes at the end of a film session, maybe it’s something that you set aside purposefully just to do that and to build those relationships, or is that something that has just come about maybe as a result of the pandemic that you’re thinking about instituting moving [01:14:00] forward?
Just talk to me a little bit about how you incorporate that. Throughout the course of the year and not just now during the preseason, is that something that you’ve thought about or done before?
Travis Schwab: [01:14:08] Well, I’ve spent this summer really evaluating how I go about doing things and basically doing a self reflection on everything in this program. And I came to the realization that I really spend entirely too much time focusing on the next opponent. And not enough time focusing on our team and what I do. So I’m committed this year. To spending more time individually with the guys.
No, not that the relationships were put on the back burner. It’s just you’ve been involved in coaching. It’s a busy lifestyle and it’s easy to get totally engrossed in what you’re doing, but [01:15:00] ultimately if you’ve got great relationships, you’re going to win more or games. And that’s kind of the realization I came to this summer.
So we are going to spend more time talking about things other than basketball. Obviously we’re going to spend a lot of time watching film, practicing getting better, but whether it be five minutes at the end of a film session, or maybe it’s a team meal off campus somewhere, or one thing I’ve tried to do since I got this job is take a trip each and every year to get away from campus, usually at Christmas time We’ve done two amazing trips. The last two years, I took the guys down to North Carolina for a Christmas tournament two years ago and called in some favors and Coach K let us practice at Cameron indoor stadium for two full hours while we were down there. An awesome experience and the guys taking pictures and getting [01:16:00] to go in the locker room and see Zion Williamson’s locker and all that. So we did that two years ago, which was a great bonding experience. But then last year I don’t know what I was thinking, but I took a team full of 18 to 22 year olds to Las Vegas.
The guys were great. We won two big games out there. But you get away from campus and you really have nothing but yourselves those relationships are really gonna blossom through experiences like that also.
Mike Klinzing: [01:16:33] Yeah. I think there’s something to be said for. Being on the road. And when I think about my own experiences as a player and a coach, a lot of those best memories are from those road trips just being on the bus or being in the hotel or at a team breakfast or walking into a new arena for the first time.
And I think those are really, really special times. And as you said, That’s really when you can spend more time together because you don’t have [01:17:00] some of those outside distractions that you might have at home. So I can definitely see where that would be tremendously valuable for you and your team to be able to get away and start to build the kinds of relationships that you know, you need to have to have success, both developing them as people, but also, as you said, it helps you win.
When you have a team that’s connected. I think it’s just easier. To win games. And there may not be that direct line that you can draw from. Hey, our three point percentage is 42% and that means we’re going to win a lot more games versus, Hey, we’ve got great relationships. We’re going to win more games, but I don’t think there’s any doubt that there’s a connection.
Between the two that having a connected team results in more winning of games. I want to ask you a little bit about thinking past the pandemic when it’s time to start getting back out of the floor. I want to ask you a little bit about your practice planning and how you go about day to day putting [01:18:00] together a practice plan.
What does that look like for you in terms of how much time does it take you to plan a practice? And then what is that? What does that planning methodology look like for you in terms of sitting down by yourself, putting it together, talking with your staff and just bringing the vision of a practice out onto the court for your players.
Travis Schwab: [01:18:23] Well, I probably spend entirely too much time planning practice, because one thing that drives me nuts is inefficiencies and wasted time. So I never want to waste time in practice. So we have a very, very detailed practice plan down to the minute. And, I probably need to let that go a little bit, but.
Typically my Wittenberg ties, we’re going to spend a good amount of time on defense. And, when I say defense, it’s everything from obviously ball screen defense because God knows if you can’t guard the ball [01:19:00] screen in college basketball nowadays, you’re gonna really struggle. So we’ll, we’ll spend a, a good amount time on ball screen defense, but we’ll even go down to the minute details of how you move your feet reach steps.
We’re a pack line defensive team. So we’re working on being in gaps, stunting and recovering and close outs are of utmost importance. but obviously the guys they’ll work their tails off and that, but they want to get to the offense too, but. I believe that you can, get a lot more out of a three on three settings.
So we’ll break down a lot of things. I love three on three. I think three on three is great because you can get every concept of five on five that you can possibly see in the game of basketball in a three on three setting. But there’s just a lot more. It’s a lot more difficult to, to guard and to play.
So we’ll play a lot of three on three. We try to [01:20:00] scrimmage a little bit at the end of each practice, we try to get a bunch of shots up and when you’re in the OAC the thing that you can’t neglect is the weight room work also. So we’re, we’re going to be lifting throughout the season also.
So we, we try to. I hate guys standing around. We’re not going to have a lot of guys standing on the side. We’re going to utilize our assistant coaches to the max. Anyone in my program is going to get a ton of reps. They’re going to get a ton of competition and they will be developed. but ultimately I’m going to put you in a position to compete day in and day out. Because even if you’re our best player, I want guys competing with you because it’s going to make you better. It’s going to make the people competing with you better. And ultimately it’s going to make our team better. So there’s tons of competition and tons of repetitions in our practice.
And in [01:21:00] order to keep everyone as active as I want them to be, I got a plan practice down to the most minute detail.
Mike Klinzing: [01:21:08] All right. So what does competitiveness look like when you’re setting up a practice? Are you tracking wins and losses? Are you tracking shooting percentage? Is there a consequence for losing in a drill?
How do you set it up to make sure that you get the competitive scenarios that you want?
Travis Schwab: [01:21:29] There’s a winner. And I mean, just like in life, there’s a winner and there’s a loser and obviously the winter reaps the rewards and the loser deals with the punishment. So we’re not there may be a little wind drill or something real quick. or the winners could just get out of the drill and go suck on some water for a few minutes while the other guys are trying to get a win and I always have a [01:22:00] reward for the win and we always have a punishment for the loss and w where, when you have a really good team and you have a really competitive team is you’ll find that even in one on o drills, you’ll have guys competing with themselves.
Like, Hey, I got five reps last time. I want to get six this time. And it’s not something that you can really put words to, but when you see it and you see a guy doing that, you know it and those are the, when we say that competitiveness is a core value of our program, that’s what I mean, we’re obviously competing with our teammates, but you’re also competing with yourself on a daily basis.
And you know, it may come to the point where you’re so tired. That just competing is putting one foot in front of the other as fast as you possibly can, then that could be a win for that day for some of our guys.
Mike Klinzing: [01:22:59] Yeah, absolutely. [01:23:00] I can understand that. And we all know that when you get into the heart of the college basketball season, that it’s sometimes is it sometimes he feels like a grind.
I’m sure it feels like a grind for coaches. I’m sure it feels like a grind for players. And as you said, sometimes just willing yourself to. Continue to give maximum effort is, is what you need. And when you get a team full of guys that can do that, that are competing for themselves that are competing against their teammates and that are competing for their teammates.
Then that’s when you’ve really set up the kind of culture that can have longterm sustained success. We are getting close to Travis an hour and a half. Believe it or not, time is flying by. So I want to ask you. One final question. And that question is to two-parter first part. What is the biggest challenge when you look forward as the coach at Muskingum, what is your biggest challenge?
And then number two, what is your biggest joy? When you get out of bed in the morning? What’s the one thing that you say I cannot wait to [01:24:00] get to work so I can do this part of the job. So your biggest challenge and your biggest joy.
Travis Schwab: [01:24:06] The biggest challenge is being part of the best league in America. I mean, I jokingly look at my assistants probably more often than I should and just ask them, Hey guys, when’s the easy part of our schedule.
Because there is none. This league is so dang competitive every year. The team has good players. Every team is extremely well coached. It’s a blessing and a curse to be part of the OAC because there are no gimme wins. Any team can beat anyone on a given night. And so that, that’s a, that’s probably the biggest challenge, but it’s also something that I take a lot of pride in this, this league.
Is one that there’s a mutual respect for other OAC players, and there’s a mutual respect amongst OAC coaches because of the [01:25:00] grind that this league is. So that’s probably the biggest challenge. The biggest, reward is I absolutely positively love my two, two and a half hours a day that I get to spend with my team in practice.
I would be a college basketball coach, even if there were no games because of how much I just look forward to it. And this is how I was as a player too. I genuinely practices employer and I genuinely love practice as a coach. And there’s nothing better in life. In my opinion, then you got a ball, you got a basket and you got a group of guys willing to work their tails off.
And when you get it into it and your guys are sweating, they’re diving on the floor, they’re taking charges there. They’re turning down good passes for great passes. And that, [01:26:00] that sense of euphoria you get just being in the gym with your guys. There’s really nothing like it in life.
It’s truly a pleasure. It’s truly a reward that I look forward to each and every day.
Mike Klinzing: [01:26:17] Yeah, I think that there’s no doubt that the opportunity to be in a gym with a group of guys that you care about, that you want to spend time with, whether you win or you lose to me, there’s nothing more rewarding.
And then when you build the kinds of relationships that allow you 20 years down the road to get a phone call from one of them that says, Hey, coach, I’m getting married or, Hey coach, I just got a new job or Hey coach, I just wanted to. Call you up and say, thanks. There’s nothing more rewarding than that.
And it comes from investing in those kids when they’re a part of your program and, and really getting to know them, not just as basketball players, but as people, which is clearly something that you’re. You’re doing there at [01:27:00] Muskingum. That’s having an impact in a positive way on the kids that are a part of your program.
Before we wrap things up, I want to give you a chance to share where people can find out more about your program, find out more how they can connect with you. So maybe share your email, social media ways that people can reach out to you. If they want to just call you up and talk some hoops that they’re interested in, learning more about the muskies program.
And then I’ll jump back in and wrap things up.
Travis Schwab: [01:27:26] Well, you can find everything about our program on a www.fightingmuskies.com. That’s our athletic men’s basketball website. I’m on Twitter at, @Coach_ Schwab and anyone that wants to come out to our practice, please don’t hesitate to give me a buzz, shoot me an email, or send me a direct message.
We welcome any and all people that are passionate about basketball coaching [01:28:00] to come and watch practice. You know, it’s not to say that everything we do is quote unquote the right way. But I think we work our guys hard. We’re committed to our guys and we work really hard to try to put our guys in the absolute best position to win.
And I love talking hoops. So anyone that wants to come and and talk hoops I could sit and I have probably spent hundreds of hours cause I did work for Bill Brown, talking about ball, screen defense, passion for talking about ball screen defense. So if you want to come and talk some ball screen defense, please give me a shout.
Mike Klinzing: [01:28:43] Travis. I cannot thank you enough for taking an hour and a half out of your schedule tonight, to jump out with us, talk Muskingum basketball, go through your basketball journey and share with the coaches that are a part of our audience has been a pleasure. Getting an opportunity to know you and talk to you tonight [01:29:00] and to everyone out there.
Thanks for listening. And we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.