For 17 years I roamed the halls of the schools I worked at and would reply when asked how I was doing by co-workers with a proverbial “Living The Dream” and for a time that was true. People would believe I was living the dream and that all was ok in my world. But, in reality, I was just saying those words to mask the fact I was too scared to actually attempt to live my dream.
Becoming a college coach has always been something I wanted to do since I finished playing college basketball. Following the recipe to become a college coach was the difficult part. I did not understand how, how or what I needed to do to become a college coach. Sure, I was working college camps to meet people. Sure, most of my former coaches were well respected and had connections. Sure, I have coached some great basketball players at the high school level. However, those experiences were not going to secure a job for me. For a while, I was excited to be a part of a very elite high school program in Southern California. I was blessed with coaching some very talented student athletes. Some who played at the highest levels of basketball. However, I was not doing what was needed to really make my dream come true. I lost sight of my ultimate goal, because I was content and in my comfort zone.
This is where the word “regret” comes in. My family relocated to Central Oregon eight years ago. At first the new adventure was exciting and my wife and I were raising our two daughters in a great community. However, after a few years, I was now waking up not wanting to go to work. It wasn’t the people I worked with or the kids I was working with. I was starting to believe my time had passed to get into the college coaching game. How would I feel in 10, 15 or even 20 years if I had never really pursued my ultimate dream? Would I regret the chances I did not take?
So, my wife and I sat down and discussed options and developed a plan for me to begin my journey I had put off for so long. Having a supportive wife has helped tremendously with this opportunity, but in my mind I was still having doubt about if it was the right thing for my family. Taking a shot or even getting a shot at an entry level position at 43 isn’t exactly the best retirement plan. Nor was it going to be a decision that would allow us some financial stability. At 43 however, I was starting to think about that word regret. Would I regret not being serious about making my dream come true? The more I thought about it and the more support I received from my family the more I felt like I had to take this chance. In the end we only regret the chances we don’t take is what my mind was starting to tell me.
This is where the word “risk” comes in. I have never been one to take risks. Hell, I don’t even like riding on roller coasters. Calling people and asking for advice is not something I would consider my best attribute. I have many friends in the coaching business and in the back of my mind I wanted to ask these people for advice but did not want to bother any of these people. I was afraid of the answer I may receive from someone. I had made some calls to people in the past, applied for jobs that were posted, but never did my due diligence in what I knew needed to be done to get my name out there.
By this time, I was now head coach at a brand new high school and felt this may be my calling. The elite high school I was coaching at years prior was a new school and we had immediate success. I believed I could accomplish the same success on a smaller level at this new position. So, I focused on building my program and doing all I could to expose the program and players to elite level competition. Besides my primary position in the building as special education teacher, I was building the youth program to feed into my high school as well as helping coach for the high school football program. I felt myself losing motivation to do the things I enjoyed and was going to work not inspired. In the back of my mind the words regret and risk started to come to the forefront. With no risk, there is no reward.
It was at this time, I decided to call coaches, get in touch with people I knew in the business to ask for advice. I attended clinics, tournaments and worked more camps during the summer. I attended any event I could to network for my dream position. Initially, it was difficult for me to introduce myself to new people. I had to get over the people too busy for me. More times than not however, coaches were willing to talk, discuss and help with advice. What I discovered was the coaching fraternity is full of people willing to help others.
After a couple of years of putting risk and regret in front of my insecurities I was getting good feedback from the college coaches. It was, at this time, I had to make a decision. I could not do this without putting my full attention to getting the position I ultimately wanted. So this past spring after my season was over, I met with the Athletic Director and Principal and resigned as basketball coach. I could not be half in and half out in my journey. It was not fair to the kids and me to not make either them or my journey a full time venture.
In March, I was contacted by the head coach of Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. I had known Coach Ioane for a couple of years and he was curious in knowing if I was interested in being a part of his staff. In May we made the decision final, my family would move to Salem, Oregon. I couldn’t help but have these thoughts going through my mind. Was this the right move for my wife and kids? Was this the right move for me? Was this the right move for the family? Asthe man of the house I was possibly going to accept a position for less money than a first year teacher. What am I thinking? Eventually, those words risk and regret started to sink in and with my family’s support I decided to take this risk and not worry about regret.
I am 5 months into my position as assistant coach and in charge of player development. I come to work every day ready to learn and make the program better. I feel better as a husband and father, because my family sees I am happy and that I am doing what I have always really wanted to do. Having those three ladies watch me go to work excited to learn and enjoy the process has been refreshing. Having my daughters see their father happy coming home from work makes the risks more worth it and now I have no regrets. Eventually, I will need to reevaluate my personal goals, but for now I am happy to actually be “Living The Dream.”
Nate Covill is the Assistant Mens Basketball Coach at Willamette University in Salem Oregon. After a successful career as a HS coach, Nate took the brave leap to follow his dream. With the strong support from his wife Angela and their two beautiful children Coach Covill is "Living the Dream!" Follow him @covillnathan