By: Katie Capps, Notre Dame
The Director of Basketball Operations (DOBO) position was originally viewed by many as a way into the coaching world. Most DOBOs would serve one to three years — cutting film and planning travel — before moving into a full-time assistant coach role.
While some still yearn to become an assistant coach, more DOBOs are choosing not to coach, but instead to establish themselves as a valuable administrative member of the coaching staff. In so doing they allow the head and assistant coaches to focus primarily on coaching and recruiting.
DOBO responsibilities vary by team, but the following traits are apparent in all successful directors who go above and beyond for their squad.
Trust and loyalty
It’s one thing to gain the coach’s trust, but it’s just as important to maintain that trust by being a listener and confidante — when appropriate. Successful DOBOs understand the pressure on their coaches. Their loyalty to the program drives them to do everything in their power to lessen that stress.
There are many head coaches who don’t utilize the potential of their DOBOs. It’s on the DOBO to continue to build trust with the head coach — making sure to ask for feedback and pointing out ways they can help.
Well-rounded business person
This role encompasses many duties. Being a self-starter who can manage finances, supervise staff and serve as a liaison to various constituents and departments is key.
Often it falls on the DOBO’s shoulders to communicate the program’s schedule and other necessary details on behalf of the head coach. Knowing how and when to distribute this information is crucial.
DOBOs have to manage many projects at the same time. The key is to be organized and not show stress, which gives the coaches and student-athletes the feeling everything is under control and in order.
Remain one step ahead
No matter how much you plan and double check details, Murphy’s Law will prevail. A successful DOBO will always think ahead so that if or when a problem occurs they can fix it before the situation gets out of hand.
Strong interpersonal skills
Whether with student-athletes, support staff, administrators, donors or recruits, successful DOBOs know how to build and foster relationships. You are rooted in a people-oriented business; so, it’s vital to establish and maintain healthy relationships with whom you interact.
Controller of emotions
High-pressure situations often trigger strong emotions. A successful DOBO will be able to handle criticism and blame, while maintaining their composure and not taking things personally. You must be able to brush it off and stay focused.
One of the biggest challenges for the DOBO position is continuing growth. Many DOBOs fail (or burnout) because they don’t look for ways to improve. Unlike head and assistant coaches, there are no “learning labs” or “clinics” to attend. Instead, DOBOs must seek out ways in which to grow and lead and take it upon themselves to find new projects that allow them to develop.
Remember, it’s never OK to settle for just doing what is on your job description. Instead, you should strive to go above and beyond. Your head coach will start to see you in a new light and, hopefully, as someone with great influence in the program.
“No” or “it can’t be done” are the last words a head coach wants to hear from their DOBO. Much like Olivia Pope, the principal character on the popular TV show Scandal, said, “I’m never out of options.” This needs to be the mindset of DOBOs as they face challenges without reservation.