"Coaches exist because we are your champion in your corner."


Hiatt Hoop Dirt

We were lucky to have Adam Hiatt, the head coach at Montana Tech, speak to our players at the Montana Showcase in Butte last October. Entering his second season in program, Coach Hiatt spoke about the importance of toughness, leadership and finding winners for his program. 

You can see the entire talk on our Facebook page by clicking here. You can follow the Montana Tech Orediggers on Twitter at @MTechHoops

A transcript of the talk is below.


Okay, so a couple things I wanted to talk about you about. When they asked me to speak I jotted down a few notes because I wanted to share a few thoughts.

So, do you guys know who Steve Jobs is? You probably remember Steve Jobs, right He's the founder of Apple, all the iPhone stuff that we have. He founded that company in 1976. It was the very first mass-produced computer company that the world ever knew right, and they had tremendous success for nine years until there was a power struggle within the company and [Jobs] was forced out. Fired from his own company that he founded in 1985.

Okay, Steve Jobs, great guy, you know, he didn't just pout and sulk. He went and started a new company and that new company developed Lucasfilm, which does Cars and Toy Story and all that stuff, right, and was a tremendous success.

Later on, in 1997 he was able to buy back Apple and became the CEO of the company that he founded once again. Now Apple was in big, big, trouble they were on the brink of bankruptcy. And the reason why is because they had no culture. Meaning they had no identity. They did not know who they were. They went from a computer company. They were trying to do software. They're trying to do programs. They didn't know what they wanted.

And so Steve Jobs takes over and says, “no, no, no, no, we are bagging all of that. This is what we're doing. It's a thing called an iPod”. And that's where it started in 1997. An iPod. This is what we're going to be known for. And that has now become iPhones, iPads, and the MacBook. What else does Apple do? When you think of Apple what do you think of? Those things.

Okay so that is what culture is. What are you and what are you known for? Okay.

So, we are now in our second year of taking over this program. I was the head coach down at that school in Salt Lake City called Westminster College. I was there for a number of years. So, my family and I we feel super grateful and blessed to be up here in Montana. It's a wonderful state. It's a wonderful place where we are. But the number one thing that we wanted to do when we took over the program is we wanted to establish culture. We wanted to create an identity for our program.

Who are we and what do we stand for.

And the two biggest things that stood out above all else is that we wanted to be a program of character and a program of toughness. Those are the two things that we wanted okay.

All right so, I want you guys to understand something. Being a college player is not easy. It is extremely difficult in all areas, it is very tough. Now the statistics show that less than 3% of all high school students have an opportunity to earn a scholarship at a four-year university. So, take a look around. That means that in this group right here it probably means two or three of you. That's what the statistics show. Okay, it is hard alright so, it takes a tremendous amount of toughness to be able to be a college player.

Okay, toughness. It's the most important skill that you can learn at a young age. Yes, do you need to know how to shoot the basketball? Of course. Do you need to know how to dribble? Yes. All that's important.

But the number one deficient skill that almost every young player has when we get freshmen in our program it's that of toughness, all right.

So, the question is: what is toughness? What does that mean? It's pretty simple I think. Can you compete? Not play. Can you compete every day at everything you do at a consistent effort? Meaning in the weight room, 3 on 0 with no defense on the floor, any type of competitive drill, can you compete? Right, most kids the answer is no. It’s no. They just haven't learned it yet. But it is a skill to be learned, that of toughness.

Okay, can you be coached? Or more importantly do you want to be coached? There's a big difference.

A lot of kids say, “yeah I want to be coached”. But what do coaches, why are coaches even in existence? We exist because we are your champion in your corner. That's what we are. Our job is to get you to become the best that you can be. So, sometimes that's not easy. In fact, a lot of times it's some, there's some hard days, right. But if you are tough then it doesn't matter what happens throughout the course of a practice or a season. You will come back the next day reinvigorated to be better because that's what tough players do, okay.

Can you bounce back? Because hey guess what, sometimes coaches get in your face a little bit don't they? You should appreciate that because if a coach gets in your face it means that he really cares about you. Now some coaches use more colorful language than others, right. We know that.

But for the most part there's a lot of adversity. You lose games, you turn the ball over, you get pulled out of games, okay. You maybe get benched for a while. Can you bounce back? That's what toughness is okay. All right so a culture of toughness is what we want. It's what you should strive to have in your own life, right.

The next thing we talked about is character. Another catchphrase that we have is that of a winner, right. A winner. Now, obviously guys listen. Do we want basketball players? Of course, man. There's a common phrase that, you can lose with talent but you cannot win without it. That is so true. What we look for, we love basketball IQ guys, we love smart players. We love guys that are skilled. We love guys that could shoot it, we love guys that are fast up and down the floor. Okay we want guys that have good dexterity and, you know, have good footwork and good hands. We love all that. That's true, yeah that's great. We need that. But these things supersede those. Toughness and character or winner, okay.

So I'm going to give you an example here real quick of what I teach my teams. There's this phrase that we have that goes like this, “there are no bad teams there's only bad leaders” okay. And I get this from one of my favorite books. There's a million books on leadership okay, but I like the ones that can really apply to the players. And this one comes from this book called Extreme Ownership. And it talks a lot about, you know, kind of the Navy SEALs training and stuff like that.

Extreme Ownership

So, I'm going to give you a quick look into what happens during hell week of Navy SEALs. So, hell week starts with about 200 prospective Navy SEALs right. And after about 72 hours, the first three days they have slept approximately one hour. They won't let them sleep.

The conditions are awful. It's cold. They're in and out of the water, they're constantly wet. The sand is inside of their gear it's chafed their inner legs and under their armpits. Everything is just raw, okay. The wind is blowing. You guys know what happens when it's windy. It saps your energy, okay. It is like the absolute worst time.

200 people start the week. By time they get past the 72-hour mark there's less than 50. The toughest most physical, athletic muscle heads in the program are usually the first ones to drop out. What do they lack? Toughness, okay.

All right so within that, when they whittle it down to about the last 50 or so they put them into these teams. And their teams are of seven individuals. And each team has a team leader, okay. And a lot of times it's by seniority or whatever it is, okay. And they were given a 200-pound raft that's their boat. And they have to carry it. So they're running four miles up and down the beach holding this 200 pound boat in unison. Up and down, they're going over 50 foot sand dunes. They're going under rope obstacle courses dragging their boat through it, right. If they get a chance to sleep for five minutes guess where they're sleeping? With their boat, okay. It goes with them.

So, you can kind of imagine the scene. It makes basketball seem pretty fun doesn't it?! Basketball is pretty nice compared to that. So anyway, now the instructors, during the hell week they call in the leaders and they give them their instructions for their competition because that's what Navy SEALs is all about. It's about competing, okay. They're looking for the toughest of the tough right. So, they call men. They say, “all right you're going to get with your team, you're going to go out beyond the surf, you're going to dump your boat” meaning everyone's out of the boat, you're getting back in the boat, you're going down the water for a mile, you're coming back through the surf, you're going over the 50-foot sand dune, you're back to the water, you're going to dump it again, you're coming back the extra mile and then you come back to the finish line.

“you got that?”

“yes sir”

They run out to their teams. They sound the airhorn and they go. Okay so, every boat is black and it's got these yellow Roman numerals on it so they can see who's winning. Because it pays to be a winner. The team that wins gets to sit out the next race and rest while the other teams have to keep going. So it pays to be a winner, right.

So, consistently throughout the competitions there was a boat that continued to win. It was boat number two. Just kept pulling away. Everybody on that seven team-crew worked in unison. They had a great leader. They had great chemistry. They were rah-rah, they were all together.

But there was also another boat that stood out. It was boat number six, and it stood out for the wrong reasons. It was way behind. It finished behind everybody.

So, if you lose you have to do extra right. So, they would bring in the whole team. They would rip them, you know, colorful language all that stuff, you know, that Navy SEALs will do. And it's interesting because the in the book it talks about the boat leader for boat number six was indifferent. Wasn't really upset. His body language was giving off the impression that he was just given a bad lot. He just had bad teammates. They weren't strong enough for him. Boat number two, they had the best teammates. If only he could have those guys. That was the idea.

Okay, so the senior officer for the for the SEALs had this wonderful idea and he brings his other officers together. He says, “we're going to do an experiment. We're going to switch the team leaders from boat two and boat six.” So, they call him in they say, “this is what we're doing, we're just switching you two guys, two you are with six, six you are with two.”

So, what do you think boat number two that leader, how do you think he felt? Kind of, like oh my gosh really? Okay but he didn't show it. He just kind of accepted it. He was like okay it is what it is. So, they give their next instructions, the next competition to go do.

The fog was starting to roll in it was hard to see. They started the race. It was coming back to the end and they pull out their binoculars and they're looking through the fog and they see there's two boats that are in front of the others. And there's one that's pulling away. Boat number six, the one that had finished last over and over, was surging into the lead. Boat number two was in second place, okay. So, boat number six ends up winning.

Now it's incredible because it's a wonderful lesson for me as a coach and it's a wonderful lesson for you as a player. Where there are no bad teams there's just bad leaders. Because what was the difference between the first race where boat six kept losing and the second race when boat six won? It was one person, okay.

So, what does a winner do? Winners have this innate ability to elevate those that are around them. To get the most out of those that are around them. To be a positive injection of vitamin C or whatever you want to call it, okay. They don't complain. They don't pout. They don't get out worked. They don't get out competed.

Okay so, our catchphrase when we look, when we're saying on our recruiting board about the guys that we're that we really want in our program. The top thing above all else, above IQ, above speed, above shooting is, is this guy a winner? That is the total embodiment of what a player is, okay. So, as you guys go now through the rest of this showcase and you're put on your various teams and your various groupings. And as you go on to your high school season keep that in mind. That a lot of times there are no bad teams just bad leaders. Just bad leaders, okay. It's a great lesson for you guys.

So, we are super excited to watch the rest of the showcase. We're excited to watch you guys throughout the rest of your seasons this year. Some of you guys are young pups and you're just starting you got a long way to go and we're going to get into.

What grade are you going into?

Player: Freshman.

Freshman awesome. You got some leadership to build. Are you going to be afraid that you're a freshman out here with some seniors are you not going to be a good leader? No, you shouldn't be, you shouldn't be. Take that opportunity to make yourself the best that you can be, okay. All right guys so have a good enjoyable evening session. This is a this is a wonderful event put on. Have an attitude of gratitude and we'll certainly be out watching almost everyone here this year.

Thank you very much.