Kim Rosamond was extremely happy as an Assistant Coach, but after spending 19 seasons in the SEC as a player and coach, she was ready to take over a Division I program of her own. Spending nine seasons as an Assistant Coach and Recruiting Coordinator at Vanderbilt University, Rosamond knew the state of Tennessee well. When Tennessee Tech offered her the opportunity to lead their program, she “jumped into the head coaching chair”.
Can you take us through the process up until and your emotion once you were officially named the new Head Coach at Tennessee Tech?
My journey to being a Head Coach was a little different, in the sense, I had been a long-time Assistant Coach who was extremely happy in my role and didn’t really desire to be a Head Coach until after I turned 40. Even then, it was all about the right fit both personally and professionally. When Tennessee Tech came open, it was the first time I had no reservations about leaving a place I loved like Vanderbilt. Tech was the perfect fit and perfect location at the perfect time. I was extremely excited but also had a great sense of peace and confidence about the next step even though I was about to be a first-time Head coach.
What strategies did you implement in year one and not waiver from over the first two years that is paying off this season?
Year one was nothing but culture. In our first week on campus, we made a risky decision that I truly believe has paid off in the long run. We spent a week doing nothing but individual meetings before we ever stepped on the court, and it was during these meetings we decided not to sign any players late even though we had several scholarships available. We knew we needed to work inside-out, win the locker room, and establish a set of core beliefs and standards we would live by daily, working to build relationships and a commitment through connection. It set us back as far as record goes in year two because we brought in nine players our second season (seven freshmen and two JUCO players), and we were one of the youngest teams in the country; but I don’t believe the culture of our program would be where it is today had we not taken that risk.
Year two was all about continuing to build our culture, but also learning how to compete for 40 minutes night in and night out at this level. The job of cultivating and protecting that culture never goes away, but in year three our culture is shining, and we are beginning to learn how to win. I truly believe the decision to focus “on the inside before going outside” has paid huge dividends for our long-term success. That is what we set out to do, not just build a team, but build a program that has cultural sustainability.
What is your philosophy in building your out of conference schedule?
Scheduling at this level was probably one of my biggest learning curves. Our first two seasons taught me quickly that when you are building, you have to find a balance of games that will challenge you and help your team grow and learn but also games where a young team can find some success early. There has to be a healthy mix of both.
After your first few years as a first-time DI Head Coach, what advice do you have for other assistant coaches who desire to become a DI Head Coach?
My first piece of advice would be to make sure before you jump to the head coaching chair, understand and be comfortable with the fact that you no longer are making suggestions. You are now making decisions, and every decision you make has a consequence good or bad. You must be intentional and thoughtful in every decision, but also strong, confident and decisive and this comes from knowing who you are, what you stand for and having a standard and living it daily.
Next, be a sponge. I have countless books of notes from our meetings at Vandy that I refer to daily. From offensive strategies, practice plans to our first team meeting every year, I was always taking notes. Those notes have been a lifeline for me in my first few years of figuring out how we want to our program to run.
Lastly, be where your feet are. Just like we preach to our players to be a star in your role, assistant coaches need to be a star in their role. Be the “Head Coach” of every responsibility you are given and attack it with a sense of ownership you would want to see in your team. Embrace being pushed by your Head Coach and embrace being uncomfortable. I grew the most when I worked for coaches who constantly pushed me to grow.