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From Development to Empowerment: An Interview with Coach Nick Whitmore

Updated: Nov 24, 2023

Insights on Balancing Academics, Skill Development, and Character Building

In the world of high school basketball, coaches play a pivotal role in shaping the lives of student-athletes. They are not just mentors on the court but also guides off the court, helping young players navigate the delicate balance between academics and athletic commitments. In this exclusive interview, we sit down with Nick Whitmore, basketball coach who shared his insights on coaching philosophy, player selection, and maintaining team culture inside the top-level high school basketball programs, as well as the invaluable life skills that student-athletes can take away from their time on the team.

Athlete+: What inspired you to become a basketball coach and what have been some of the biggest challenges you have faced in your career so far?

Coach Whitmore: My father was a college basketball coach and, from an early age, it was something that I wanted to pursue. I have always enjoyed helping players develop as people and using basketball as a vehicle to help them. The biggest challenge I have faced is remaining confident in my abilities even in adverse times or when you are on a losing streak.

Athlete+: How do you approach coaching high school basketball players, and what are some of the key attributes that you look for in a successful team?

Coach Whitmore: I love coaching high school basketball because you have a tangible impact on the players development. I have always approached it as a way to help my players reach college if they so desire. We are fairly straight forward when it comes to evaluating good fits for our program. The first, and biggest, thing we look for is high-character good people. Second is motivated students. Third is basketball players that love the game and really want to improve.

Athlete+: In your experience, what are some of the biggest challenges that student-athletes face in balancing their academic and athletic commitments, and what advice would you give to young athletes struggling to find the right balance?

Coach Whitmore: We try to help our students understand priorities and develop good study habits for when they eventually move on to college and have to self-manage. My advice is the keep it simple and prioritize the things that truly matter to you. Hopefully family, academics, and basketball.

Athlete+: Could you speak to the process of selecting players for your team and the qualities that you look for in a player beyond just their basketball skills?

Coach Whitmore: This goes back to question 2. We look for high character, high academic, highly motivated players. That said, we also want players that are highly skilled and can pass, handle, and shoot.

Athlete+: How do you support student-athletes who are looking to pursue a college basketball career, and what advice would you give to players who are hoping to earn athletic scholarships?

Coach Whitmore: We work closely with our college counseling office, families, and the students themselves to determine a realistic list for them to pursue. We then work to get video in front of coaches and advocate on our end for players. Ultimately, it is very challenging to earn a scholarship and the more you can do to add value as a player and student will help.

Athlete+: How do you maintain a positive team culture and ensure that all members of the team are valued and supported, both on and off the court?

Coach Whitmore: We are very transparent with roles and playing time in our program. We stat everything and it is easy to understand where you need to improve. In terms of locker room culture, we have been fortunate to have the right players in the locker room to keep morale high, but we frequently do team building activities to build chemistry off the court.

Athlete+: What are some of the most important life skills that you hope your players will take away from their time playing basketball for your team, and how do you incorporate these values into your coaching approach?

Coach Whitmore: How to be a great person and treat people with empathy and respect. Being a diverse team with players from all over the globe we also hope that they understand different cultures and can work with a variety of people.

Athlete+: In your experience, what role do parents and family members play in the success of student-athletes, and how can they best support their child’s athletic and academic pursuits?

Coach Whitmore: Parents are crucial in developing successful people. I believe the best role for parents is to be supportive of their players and the coaching staff. By trusting in the coaches you can develop a relationship where players can be told the truth and develop as players.

Athlete+: What do you see as the future of high school basketball, and how do you see the game evolving in the coming years?

Coach Whitmore: College recruitment has changed drastically in the wake of COVID and the transfer portal. This means it is increasingly challenging to earn a scholarship or place on a college roster. More and more value will be placed on loyalty and finding the right fits for each program.

Athlete+: Could you speak to any specific success stories or experiences you’ve had working with student-athletes, and how these experiences have impacted your coaching philosophy?

Coach Whitmore: I have always felt most rewarded when we have been able to take a player and ensure they have a tremendous experience at the high school level. Often times with international student-athletes this can be most fufilling as you watch players mature and thrive in a boarding school environment.

This interview has provided a glimpse into the passion, challenges, and values that define the role of a high school basketball coach. Through his unwavering dedication to their players’ development, both on and off the court, coach Nick shapes not just skilled athletes, but resilient, well-rounded individuals ready to take on the challenges of the future.


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