"I’ve learned that if you believe in children, they will believe in you and ultimately themselves."
"To live fearless starts from the top."
For NC State Head Coach Kevin Keatts, coaching basketball is more than just a career – it is a responsibility. A responsibility to demonstrate and instill confidence within the lives of young men. As coach, Keatts leads by example, with a determination to prepare this team for greatness both on and off the court.
"The greatest reward you can receive as a coach is to witness the growth of your players. My passion for the game is reignited each time I can witness a kid not only grow as a freshman player to a senior, but also graduate and go on to achieve their life goals. For me, this team is like having 13 sons and being able to see them grow up. The physical improvement of their skills is just as important as their mental development. It is essential for them to build upon their resilience, focus, and most importantly, their confidence.
Confidence is believing in yourself and holding steadfast in how you carry yourself and the values that you have – no matter what others think of you. When you know that you work hard every day, you become more and more prepared for each obstacle you face. The root of our confidence is often established when we are younger. Although my parents were not into athletics as much, they respected my interests and abilities in sports. They taught me how to be a man and respect others. As a basketball and football player, the wins I achieved and the losses I learned from enabled me to establish confidence in myself as a leader. When I went on to coach at Hargrave Military Academy later in my career, this same mentality of learning from my mistakes helped me develop my confidence and mold me into a better leader for our players.
Every time the NC State Wolfpack steps on the court, we have to have the confidence that we are going to win. I must be confident that I am going to lead NC State to a championship. If I don’t believe that within myself, then our players won’t believe it either. By believing in myself, I chose to Live Fearless. I Live Fearless because I am confident in who I am. It’s difficult to live your life if you are consumed by fear; instead I mentally lock in and believe in my faith and in my players.
When it comes to facing our rivals, everyone wants to win. Although players come and go each year, our fans are strong and passionate. Being able to make the community proud after a win is another boost of confidence to the team. However, instilling confidence within our players starts in practice. After every practice, I want my players to feel good about themselves. I praise them when they do well, and when they make a mistake, I don’t dwell on it. In this business, you have to have a short-term memory so that you can build players up. Confidence comes from the top and what you instill in your players as a coach. We want to give guys the confidence that even if they miss five shots in a row, they can make the sixth. We want them to believe that we are a family – we win together, and we lose together.
One of the main reasons I became a coach is to help young men. When I see those men go on to be professionals and start families, that’s the greatest reward in life to me. When they leave me, I get the most satisfaction out of seeing them make it and become great citizens. As a coach, I want to achieve the great accomplishment of winning a championship. But win or lose, I want the legacy I leave to not rely solely on the number of wins, but on how I prepare my young men to be successful in life."
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