#2 Talking Adversity in Basketball With College Basketball Coach Nikki Jessee

Throughout this video, Eric Pangburn & College Basketball Coach Nikki Jessee discuss adversity in basketball and its role in shaping young basketball players into better athletes and individuals. Adversity can mold one into a great person and make them stronger, as the coach knows firsthand.

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  • Meet Coach Jesse from Florida.0:00
    • Introducing coach jesse from sunny florida.
    • Coach jesse is a runner-up in Miss Florida.
  • Teaching players how to deal with adversity.1:06
    • The reason why many players are transferring.
    • The importance of learning from adversity.
  • College Athletes have a lot more resources.3:25
    • College is a different level of work ethic than high school.
    • Preparing for college
  • Adversity in youth sports.5:42
    • Adversity equals lack of playing time in today’s sports world.
    • Adversities in sports.
    • Parents are living through their kids.
    • The biggest problem is parents can’t handle being upset.
  • Coaching self-worth and self-value.9:39
    • Coaching self-worth and self-value in her players.
    • Finding a balance between basketball and life.
  • Dealing with adversity and not playing enough.12:03
    • Dealing with adversity and playing time with kids.
    • How to address playing time.
  • Putting pressure on players to do more.14:02
    • Working in the gym every day.
    • A player she inherited from her father.
    • Travel basketball in third and fourth grade.
    • Traveling too early in basketball.
  • Traveling and travel schedule.17:47
    • Tournament schedule for high school students.
    • Travel schedule for students in college.
  • There is no college in the country looking at 7-2 players.19:43
    • There is no college recruiting in the country.
    • Adversity is a good thing.
  • It’s okay for kids to fail.21:50
    • Failure is okay, but it’s okay to fail.
    • Our daughter’s name is rudy.
    • Follow coach jesse on twitter and facebook.
    • Nike camps and how they evolved.


Eric Pangburn 0:00

Hey, Coach. Today I have with us, Coach Jesse. She’s from Florida, Sunny Florida here. And I know she probably won’t brag about ourselves. So I’ll do a little bit of bragging that I’ve found out some information about her whatnot. So she was Miss Florida runner up. And she’s been coaching for 20 plus years, she has a house full of coaches, she’s also married to a husband of a coach actually just made it to the Final Four, just a few weeks ago, it sounded like, and we’re excited to have her what kind of stir this conversation was several months back, she had posted a very popular and went viral tweet and social media post, kind of talking about her past and her experience. And we’re gonna dive into that today. If you wouldn’t mind. I’ll show that tweet up here. hearing a little bit or whatnot. But could you dive into a little bit of a backstory of what kind of brought you up to that tweet?

Nikki Jessee 1:05

Just a lot of kids are transferring. And there’s, there’s good reasons to obviously we’ve got no ideals and, and things like that. But, you know, when I was just thinking about, you know, these players that quit, and I think I’m talking about specifically the ones that quit, because it gets too hard. Not, you know, maybe they’re in a wrong situation, because they’re, you know, not a great situation, the coach or something like that. There’s definitely different reasons for transferring, but I do, I do find that kids, if a situation gets too tough, like whether it’s au or middle school or high school, like they’re not playing, they transfer immediately to a different program instead of figuring out like, why are you not playing and so it was just a dialogue of my experiences. And, you know, I was at USC, Florida, and I was in one of the top recruiting classes in the country, and it was hard, and I don’t think I handled it well. So you know, my husband, I have a wife, she’s 13. Now, daughter in, you know, we want to teach her how to not make excuses how to fight through things, and to hopefully set her up for the future where when she faces adversity, she knows how to handle and I think a lot of these kids don’t know how to handle adversity, and they kind of, you know, lose their minds a little bit if if they lose, or if they’re not playing or if the coach comes down on them hard. So it kind of started at, you know, as I like to share my experiences, especially with my own players, I think it resonates well with them when you’ve made mistakes, too, not just that everything was perfect. And you made all the right choices. But you know, you’ve made some mistakes. And this is how I what I did to fix that. So that’s kind of where it all started.

Eric Pangburn 2:48

Yeah. So kind of peel back a layer of that, kind of take us back to that process of your decision that you want to wanted to kind of move to the next step, kind of peel back that layer and kind of go back to that experience and what led to this and that through adversity and what direction you went.

Nikki Jessee 3:10

Um, so when I was are you talking about specifically when I was at Florida? Yes. When Yeah. Um, so when I was there, I and things are a little bit a little bit a lot different than they are now. I think kids have a lot a lot more resources and we necessarily had back then. And I don’t think I really knew how good I was either. But I I thought I worked hard before I got to Florida, and it’s a whole different level of work ethic. In college, and I think every kid I tell every recruit we have now that you think you want to play in college and you think you want to be a college athlete, but you really don’t know what you’re getting into yet. So I don’t think I had any idea. And you know, I wasn’t in great shape I don’t think I was in I wasn’t horrible shape, but I didn’t know like what kind of shape I needed to be in like SEC wise. And, and we didn’t we didn’t lift a whole lot either. So I wasn’t prepared for that. So that was a whole I mean, I was I’m six feet tall I was like 150 pounds and just skinny as a rail in you know, I remember just like literally practically crawling back to my dorm after workouts in you know, you put that in there to where you gotta go to class and you have all these weren’t you study hall and practice and stuff. And I just was overwhelmed. I don’t think I had any idea what I was getting into, I don’t think I was prepared. So I feel like kids need to be prepared for you know, this is what to expect when you get there and how do you what do you need to do to become successful? So, um, like I said, I think kids have a lot more resources now. And there’s, you know, like, even me put that out on Twitter, like, you know, we just didn’t have that back then either. So, you know, I took the easy way out and quit. And I’m like Key, you know, I got to salvage my career and, you know, being a pretty good player, but I had to make some tough even when I transferred Rollins, like that first year was hard. And I’m like, gosh, Nikki, you got to figure this out. So I just honestly, I was like, you can either be a quitter, and in your career is, you know, you’re basically a failure because you’re supposed to be so good. And you haven’t, you know, you haven’t lived up to that, but not just because you’ve had, you know, hard situations happen, because you really didn’t put in the work. Like you have to really overcome stuff to get to that level as a player that you want to so so likely I had, you know, I, I grew up, but I made a lot of mistakes on the way too. So.

Eric Pangburn 5:43

Yes. So I keep on hearing the word adversity thrown out there quite a bit, or do you feel like in today’s world in today’s sports world than ever adversity kind of equals just the lack of playing time? And it? Was that an issue with you? Or what are you seeing currently, even even with your daughter and youth sports, even recruiting and different things like that of that word adversity and sports adversity or whatnot.

Nikki Jessee 6:12

Um, I think so. So our, I help with our AAU program that my daughter plays in, and we kind of started it, and I’ve stepped kind of away from the coaching part of it, but I still run the organization and schedule stuff. And like, even our first tournament was a few weeks ago, we have one team that’s more of a developmental team, players that are serious about basketball, but need to. If we put them all together on one team, they probably wouldn’t play as much. So we don’t we keep our teams pretty small. So everybody’s playing, and those kids are still locked into basketball, I just don’t want him to quit at such a young age, like everybody develops at a different time. And, you know, we had a, I wasn’t actually at the game they played earlier than my daughter’s team. But I heard a couple parents were like, really bad mouthing the coach. And I’m like, because their kid did it. And everybody plays like, we only had six players for that game. So it’s not like nobody’s playing, but she didn’t get a lot, a lot of touches. And unlike their 12, like, really like your inner their kids a year younger to than everybody else. And I’m like I said, we just don’t do that. Like, I feel like, I feel like they’re the type of parents that will pull their kid and go to a different program. And I’m like, your kids really not that good. Like, that’s really why like, she doesn’t mean she’s not going to be good. And she has lots of, you know, athletic abilities, but she’s got to learn how to play basketball. And it takes some time, and everybody develops differently. And like, my daughter’s really, really tall, and really skinny and looks like a baby giraffe. She’s trying to figure it out, like how to move about, and she’s not the best player out there. But she works hard, and maybe she’ll develop and stuff. But I think parents see that their kids aren’t successful. And they take it personally. And they’re living through their kids. And, you know, they’re trying to make their kid into the star because that’s where they get their worth from. And, you know, I think that’s one of the biggest things. And you know, I tell a lot of parents too. I’m like, Are you athletic? Were you athletic? And they’ll say, Well, no, I’m like, Well, what do you expect your kid to be like, you’re not going to create something. You know, that’s the exact opposite of you. Like they’ve gotten to develop some of this stuff, too. And they’ve got to work hard to get there. So the biggest problem is parents like can’t handle their kid not being the best, or they can’t handle their kid being upset. Like our daughter started AAU. Think it was fifth grade, fourth or fifth grade. And she wasn’t the best player on the team. And they played everybody until they got to the championship game. And then she barely played and they won the championship. So we’re talking to her on the way home and I was like, Are you excited? You guys did great. She goes, Yeah, well, I didn’t play. I didn’t play much. So we open a dialog. I’m like, Why do you think that is? And so she got the answer a little bit. And then we just told her said, Listen, you’re not the best player. And I said, and honestly, you don’t ever work at it. So you’re not ever going to be the best player so and I said, Can you if you do work at it, you may still not be the best player. But that’s not the purpose of sports is for you to figure out your work ethic to become the best you absolutely can become and learn teamwork and all those great things that you’re supposed to learn along the way. So I really think parents are living through their kids and that’s the biggest problem so we not that Tom and I do everything perfect, but we try to let our kid on like you can you don’t have to play basketball just because we were coaches and you know, we try to open the door for her to figure it out on our own too. But we don’t we don’t mind speaking truth to her either. And saying hey, you know what, you really haven’t been working on your game and this is where you need to go. So lucky for us she has you know, really started to buy into working hard so we’ll see where it takes or Oh,

Eric Pangburn 9:53

now I heard a little bit there of you know, really trying to find yourself identity in the sport and And just knowing a little bit about you, and seen several tweets and social media posts, how do you coach self worth or self value in your, in your teammates, or in your, in your players currently?

Nikki Jessee 10:14

Um, well, one thing, I try to have a relationship with them to figure them out, like what, what they’re trying to get accomplished, so we can help them accomplish their goals within the team concept. Because, you know, we could have a player that wants to be all tournament or not alternate all conference, and maybe she’s not our best player. So she’s probably not going to be there. But she could play a big role on why we, you know, win or the national tournament. So, so we try to figure out what their goals are and what they want to accomplish, and help them to accomplish it. But at the same time, like, I’m probably a little, I’m pretty competitive, like everybody, but and I’m at a Christian college too. So our values are a little bit different other people, but you know, after games, I don’t, if we lose, I’m like, listen, I was like, I don’t expect you to be celebrating and laughing and stuff on the right way home, but you know, we cry for a little bit I go, then you gotta get over it. Because we’re moving on to the next game, we got to figure out, you know, what we did wrong, and what we need to do better. So we try not to, I try not to make basketball, their idol, like we see you as a person, like, we’re not, I may be on you on the court, but then I’ll be hugging them off the core. And you just try to find some kind of balance with it. I think a lot of these kids, especially when they get to college, they’ve only been successful. So when they get to college, they’re not the best player necessarily. And even if they are the best player, they may not be, you know, at the level, they were, you know, in high school or AAU because they’re playing with better players and playing against better players. So we just try to find a balance there, too. We want when they come here, we want it to be a good experience overall. Off the core, like we try to, we try to do fun things with them. And we want it to not just be like, Hey, we just are basketball. That’s it. Like this is the only thing we care about. And that’s it like basketball is your avenue to get you to where you want to go. But it’s not it shouldn’t be your idol.

Eric Pangburn 12:03

Yeah. Do you how do you deal with currently with adversity and playing time with kids, even at your school or even at the the AAU or whatnot? How do you work with those parents asking those questions about playing time about my kids? Not playing enough? How do you address that? Or kind of start those conversations? Or have those parents come to you and then you address those conversations?

Nikki Jessee 12:30

Well, with parents, I don’t address anything with I don’t talk to parent, even at in our AAU group I don’t, I’m like, listen, like the kids that get better are the ones that are at every practice, like you can tell they’re getting better, they’re doing stuff on their own. Like if you you want a we play, you know, they’re 12 and 13. So everybody’s gonna play and we have seven on each team. So they’re all going to rotate through and play. But I’m like, you know, we’re we are trying to win games. And, you know, we and even my daughter doesn’t like she’s sad some too. And I’m like, do whatever you got to do, if you don’t think she can help you when you play whoever so. But we don’t, I don’t have discussions with parents, and I don’t in college either. But with players you know, for the most part, I think they know the role. Um, like, if you want your role to change, you need to see like, who’s ahead of you. It’s not like, like this last year, I did something different that we only had 10 on our roster for a specific reason. Because I’m like, we’re gonna rotate all you guys in there, you know, we expect we have small team for a reason this next year, we’ll have 12. So I mean, I expect them all to play, but they may not play as many minutes as they want. We do regular meetings with them too. So they know where they stand. And, you know, I’m like, here’s what you got to do to get on the court do more. But most times those kids. So I’ve had this, I just think I just finished my 24th year and the kids at the end of the bench are consistently the ones that don’t work as hard. And they’ve determined that they’re not good enough, or the coach doesn’t think they’re good enough. So they’re not going to come in and work. I’ve never had a player that was in the gym every single day working that I didn’t play. So they it’s hard, though they don’t they don’t want to necessarily do more. And they’re like, well, this, so and so’s not doing as much. And I’m like, well, they’re better than you. So if you want to beat them out, do more than them. And then you put pressure on them to do more. And then if they don’t do more, guess what, you slowly start getting better than them. So it’s a work ethic thing. And it’s hard and you know if their friends are going out, and you know, they don’t necessarily want to be in the gym when everybody’s going out having fun or they don’t want to get up early when everyone’s sleeping in so but I have never had a player that did it that busted their butt was in here every day that I didn’t play. So unlike for example, when I was at St. Leo, I actually was just talking to her the other day I had a player I inherited and and she asked me when I got hired like if she was going to play I said I don’t know and I said if that’s a concern for you, you probably need to transfer right now. And I, and then we started coaching. I love her to death and she wanted to shoot threes. Well, she’s a horrendous three point shooter. I’m like, do you want to shoot threes? You better prove to me that you can because I’m not letting me shoot threes when you’re shooting 20% Well, the kid got in the gym and worked her butt off. And she actually against my husband’s team, we beat them in the semifinals, a conference tournament, and she hit six threes, and had a career night. And she still talks about that, like I she goes, I knew that I had to work and if not, you weren’t gonna play any. So. So ultimately, they got to decide for themselves. So

Eric Pangburn 15:37

yeah, I get this, I get this question quite a bit. And and it’s always like, I have a child playing travel basketball. And he’s playing maybe like three or four minutes. Usually in the in the in the lower leagues, say like third or fourth grade. And, you know, we’re doing a ton of travel and spending a ton of money travel and getting into these games, and whatnot. And it’s out enough to be in way too much cost is it’s just not worth it to us anymore. And we’re wanting to, you know, leave the team or whatnot, what would you how would you speak into that?

Nikki Jessee 16:11

Well, I don’t think anybody should travel until it depends how serious they want to take basketball. But people get into travel too early third, and fourth grade, you shouldn’t be playing AAU, you should be going to camps and getting training high, spend that money and get a trainer, somebody that will work with them play little church league and stuff that aren’t that expensive. So, but at that level to just like we do with our two teams, like we play everybody, like they all get really, honestly, they get a ton of playing time. So like the whole point is that you want to keep playing them you want to you don’t want to lose them at that early age, because everybody develops at a different age. So I tell parents at that age, like you shouldn’t be playing, they should be training, like learning the fundamentals. And, and they got to figure out like basketball is not like any other sport like it is not. I mean, there’s so many, you have to be athletic, obviously, you have to be somewhat quick, and you got to be able to shoot and dribble and do all this stuff at the same time. And it’s, it’s a cardio sport, too. So a lot of kids don’t even know how to shoot a left hand layup or they don’t know how to shoot their left hand and they’re playing travel ball, like those things gotta be, you gotta master those first. And that’s not necessarily what kids want to work on. Either they, they really just want to play games, and that you don’t get any better that way. Like usually the kids that are good at that are the ones that can drive the basketball. They’re just quicker than males are more aggressive than everybody else. And then the ones that are learning the skills and things like that are a little bit slower to peak, which is okay as well. So I don’t I’m not a big fan of those kids playing travel ball real early. Like even with our team, like we don’t travel, we play. I think we play eight total tournaments. And we give them off in June. So they can go to camps and do stuff with their family. And then July, we play two tournaments, and one of them is out of state, we’ll go to I think we’re going to Memphis this year, just so they can see talent across the country and just get that experience. But we don’t and we kind of play local, like, we’ll go to Tampa and Orlando, you know, maybe Gainesville or somewhere like that. But I think these kids, they need to have live like we practice twice a week we practice. I’m sorry, in the fall, we’ll like go once a week on Sundays and just do developmental stuff. Like we go for two hours and work on fundamentals and shooting and things like that. And so we scrimmage a little bit, obviously, because I’ve been like that we want to have fun with it. But we’re teaching them the whole time. And then once spring rolls around, we go. I think through January we go one day a week. And then once February hits, we go Sundays and Tuesday nights. And Tuesdays an hour and a half and we’re doing more team stuff then because we’re getting ready for tournaments. But I think sometimes less is more. But we do like we have notebooks for our team like we make our kids keep track of when they’re working out. We’re like, and I’m like you don’t need to you don’t need to be working out seven days a week. We’re not trying to burn kids out. But you do need to be working on your own, like you should be working on ball handling and shooting and, you know, 2030 minutes, three days a week, that’s not a big deal. So we try to encourage that and try least teach at work ethic.

Eric Pangburn 19:24

When When would you suggest a heavy travel league or travel schedule for students then?

Nikki Jessee 19:30

Honestly, not until like summer before ninth grade. They don’t need to play and I know a lot of kids are playing and that’s okay too. But a lot of people are playing because they think colleges are looking at them. There is no college in the country looking at seventh eighth graders and sixth graders. They may be at your games but they’re not looking at you and they’re it unless you’re like one of the best players in the entire country. They’ll know who you are. Besides that, like you can be the best team Your track best player on your travel team in in two years, you haven’t grown any. And now all sudden you’re the shortest and you have to change positions. And you’re I mean, there’s just so many things that go into development, it’s hard to tell who’s going to be a stud.

Eric Pangburn 20:13

Yeah. Can you say that a little bit louder for everyone to hear that one?

Nikki Jessee 20:18

It’s hard to tell who’s gonna be a stud. Unless they’re like Shaquille O’Neal son. And they’re like, you know, seven, two and in seventh grade.

Eric Pangburn 20:27

Exactly, exactly. I see that too often and exactly what you were saying, you know, I’m out around the Indianapolis area. And I mean, there’s there’s gyms full every weekend of everything from kindergarten all the way up to high school that are I mean, it’s just, it’s just explosive. And I’m sure you’ve seen it down there in Florida, as well, or whatnot. But oh, yeah, exactly. What you’ve been saying is, you know, starting to early getting burnout. And you know, what it gets too crazy parents are, you know, on the court throwing punches over, you know, third, fourth, fifth grade games. And it’s right, it’s just getting crazy sometimes with some of this stuff out there and whatnot. And then they’re, like you said, there’s no college recruit out there at a fifth sixth grade game. I’m sorry, but there’s really not, you know, right. So, great, great, great stuff, great information. So is there anything else that that you would like to share that I haven’t hit that you could think of about kind of this, this topic of versity or just even use sports and diversity? Anything that can you can think of that we haven’t hit that you’d like to share?

Nikki Jessee 21:42

No, just that, you know, I think it the whole thing with adversity like and your kid failing, I think it’s a good thing. Like I, I want our kids to fail at times to figure out how to get through stuff. And like she a couple years ago, she tried out for a play at our school and she had to go the camp for the whole week before and then they tried out for the play for the falling in the fall. And, and she was all about it in you know, I helped I tried to help her go over a lines at home, she really didn’t want to go over them didn’t want practice. I’m like, that’s fine. Where she ends up not making it, she got cut, and she was devastated for a couple hours was crying. So you know, I took her got ice cream. We talked about it. I’m like, so my daughter, you know, got cut didn’t make the play was super upset. And um, you know, I had a good talk with her. And I’m like, Well, I know, How bad did you really want to make it? And she’s like, I really wanted to make it. I said, Okay, so what did you do to get ready for this? And she was like, Well, you know, I probably could have practice more. And you know, you know, put some effort into it. So we had a really good conversation about it. I was like, if you really want to do this, then you know, let’s practice and get you ready. Like next year, we’ll do the same thing. Well, next year comes around, she didn’t do it. Because she really didn’t want to be in the play. She just, you know, didn’t want to put in the effort you needed. She just kind of wanted to be on the stage. I guess so. So just, it’s okay for your kids to fail. It’s okay for them to fail a test. Like we tell our daughter like if you did your absolute best, that’s okay. But if you didn’t, that’s a conversation like why what do you need to do to fix it? And so it I would absolutely love for our daughter’s name is Rudy, I would love for Rudy to be an absolute star. I don’t know if she’s going to be and that’s okay, too. I just love watching her play. So I have to keep myself in check to like, I do you just enjoy watching her play? Are you trying to live through her and get her to be some star and you know, I don’t know, she has the ability to do that. But she has got to work hard to get to that point. If and I say that if if they want to do that, like I we’ve had to ask her daughter, we’re like, Listen, you can just play for fun if you want. That’s okay too. But you know, you’ve got to always go hard and practice. And you have to understand too, if you don’t do anything extra, then you know, you may not get to play a whole lot. So she’s really bought into working hard and so we’ll help her get to wherever she wants to go. But at the same time, we just want her to be the best she can so if she fails along the way that’s okay. She learns stuff, you know, regardless of whether she becomes a good player or not.

Eric Pangburn 24:11

Yeah, for sure. sort of try to throw out there some of your Twitter information and then also maybe just explain a little bit dialect and you know, shoot out information about what you have going on. I know you have a few Nike camps coming up this summer. Yeah. Throw out there. And also, if you haven’t already, go ahead and follow coach Jesse on Twitter, on Facebook. She’s a great great follow. I read some of your tweets and some of your posts. You you you keep a very real honest and throw it out there like you should. So share a little bit about your your, your handles and then also what you got coming up this summer and your camps.

Nikki Jessee 24:57

I don’t even know what my handles are. I would just say I think gets at sure it’s either coach Jesse or Nicky Jesse or something like that. But Jesse and spell.

Eric Pangburn 25:06

them up here and we’ll post them up and make sure people know and see him. We’ll put them up here in a bit here. And then what about your Nike camps? And how did those kind of come about and evolve?

Nikki Jessee 25:18

Well, I really like teaching, and I get an opportunity to do that a lot during the summer with younger kids, but I love teaching shooting. I think so many kids, especially in Florida aren’t really fundamentally sound. So I like to teach X I’m like, Who doesn’t like to score so we do one, Nike can’t make six it’s a day camp, just Bailey shooting for the whole day and working on different ways to score. And then we have another overnight one for a weekend. I think it’s June 2 through fourth and it’s a kind of like an Elite Camp. So we teach a bunch of different things. And I don’t know it’s fun. I love camp. So we’re excited to do it.

Eric Pangburn 25:55

Good deal. We’ll definitely put that information up as well. And we appreciate your time coach and if you could, maybe Fairmount, I’ll shoot you an email throughout. If you have any other people that you know that may be interested in being interviewed. That’d be that’d be great.

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