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It is the perfect time to reflect. When I look back, just seven years ago I was policing. Then, I was coaching university teams. Now, I'm in the G-League!
Lead Assistant Coach for the Raptors 905
Head Coach & GM of the Guelph Nighthawks
When you break it down, I really have three different roles:
It’s great because I’m learning so much. The biggest take away from being a part of the Raptors organization is being around and learning from Jama Mahlalela, the head coach. He’s got so much experience coaching on an NBA bench and he’s an amazing leader.
As for my role in the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) with the Nighthawks, I’m very fortunate to have been offered the head coaching position. In a lot of ways it’s allowing me to take what I’ve learned from the Raptors organization and implement it. I couldn’t have written it any better to be honest. So I am really excited to get back into the swing of things when the CEBL returns.
My experience as head coach at Brock University for 5 years also helped prepare me for playing the GM role with the Nighthawks. When you coach a Canadian university team that’s part of it. You’re definitely a General Manager there as well. It was an incredibly valuable experience. Going to the 905 was the first time I had ever just coached basketball and had a staff around me that took care of all those other duties. You work just as hard, if not harder, but you get to focus strictly on basketball.
Everyday is different. There are game days, practice days, travel days, etc. which is what’s great about the job but I’ll focus on a game day here at home.
It’s a full day of preparation for the game that evening. It starts with a very early morning coaches meeting where we go over the game plan and go over what we want to do and show the team in practice on film.
After the coaches meeting we go straight into a video session with the team and then onto the court to shoot around and walk through what we’ve just gone over. Then there is our only break of the day before were back on the floor about 3-3.5 hours before the game. Then the game is played and as soon as the game is over it’s back to work, getting ready for the next morning, assuming we’re at home again the next day. Game days are long.
It is similar for away games, there’s no added pressure from fans or anything like that when we’re at home. Much like the athletes, it’s tunnel vision for us coaching until the final buzzer goes off.
Before my coaching career, I worked in the Toronto Police Service. I never thought of coaching as this is what I’m supposed to do.
I think it’s important that when you come, you bring whatever got you there. Bring that first, and then expand.
Honestly, I took a chance. It wasn’t exactly destiny to go from policing to coaching. But I always had passion for coaching and teaching. I love winning, challenges and competition, so the mix was natural for me.
Around the time I became Head Coach of the Brock Badgers Men’s Basketball team in 2013, the team was struggling. They were one of the worst teams in the country. But shortly before, in 2008, they had won a national title. I went there to create a winning culture and breathe some life back into it. I actually did a Master’s in education and leadership at the same time as well.
Dramatically. When you’re at home you feel like you’re busier at times. Everything has shifted. I’m not on flights and in hotels and back home and spending a ton of time driving on the highway. All of that has slowed down.
It is the perfect time to reflect. When I look back, just seven years ago I was policing. Then, I was coaching university teams. Now, I’m in the G-League! I also think about what I want the next five years to look like. I’ve been kind of racing through life. You try to be present for sure, but you don’t always take the time to reflect and enjoy what you’re doing and what you’ve been able to accomplish.
I’m doing as much development as possible. I’m looking at areas in my coaching that I need to improve and trying to take the time to improve them. I’m trying to really hone in on my craft.
This is an interesting time. I get the chance to go back and look at what I did in year one and apply it again and apply it differently to be better this time. How am I going to manage certain situations? These are the things going through my head.
This gives me a chance to really do it differently and be better at it.
I can’t think of a time that I’ve had this much time. Sometimes when I’m on a plane I might jot some things down, but for the most part it just doesn’t feel like I usually have the time to reflect. Maybe it’s there, and I just don’t prioritize it [laughs]. I think that’s probably the other piece, trying to get better at prioritizing things.
Use LeBron or Jordan as an example, they do all these extra things on and off the floor. I think that’s part of why they become great. And consistency is what separates them from the rest.
These are the moments of appreciation that you realize, “I have put in a lot of work” and other people have put in a lot of work into it too. These are the moments that took a lot of work and a lot of sacrifice to get to these places.
I appreciate these moments. I could’ve been doing something else or it could have been somebody else so I stay humble to that fact. I think that’s probably why the losses resonate a little bit more with me because I’m looking at them thinking, “Okay, what am I going to do? How do I do get better?” Obviously you’re going to lose again. But, how do you lose better. How do you not make the same mistake twice? I’m going to lose games but what I take from the losses is how to get closer to victory.
The ones I have now. The best job is the one you’ve got.
If I had to choose other than the ones I had, it wouldn’t be the best team out there. It would be a team that has potential but is not quite there yet because that’s more my personality. A team more like the Chicago Bulls rather than Golden State. The challenge of building and becoming the best is the fun part.
When you’re winning the vibe is definitely better.
I feel like everybody’s happy and things are easier. When you’re losing, you have to figure it out. It does become stressful, especially in the professional environment, but actually in both.
I didn’t like losing at the university level any more than I do now. It becomes stressful in both environments because I want to win, we’re competitive by nature. You need to keep some sort of balance or equilibrium through your whole team and program. You can’t get too high on wins and you can’t get too down on losses.
Honestly, the best way to be is very transparent and honest.
You just need to be authentic, direct and consistent. People need to know what to expect.
I’m not at the NBA GM level where you’re having to make deals and trades and things are a little different. There’s no trades in our league. So it’s a little easier to manage.
People aren’t always happy with their playing time and all these kinds of things but it is what it is. I think ultimately everyone knows what you’re trying to accomplish.
Getting to talk to Charles Kissi was a great opportunity to get some insight on what it’s like bet on yourself. He explained how his refusal to lose has been his key to success and how he is driven by challenge. Charles also talked about the importance of prioritizing your time to include reflection and goal setting and its affects on your personal and professional growth. I’m very grateful that Coach Kissi took the time to give us all some really great advice, players and industry professionals alike!