Head Basketball Coach Bob Walsh Holds Leadership Academy at RIC 

Head Basketball Coach Bob Walsh leads a session at his Dynamic Leadership Academy.

Head Basketball Coach Bob Walsh leads a session at his Dynamic Leadership Academy.

Rhode Island Head Basketball Coach Bob Walsh’s problem-solving philosophy is simple – if you can’t find what you’re looking for: create it.

That’s how Walsh came to establish the Dynamic Leadership Academy, a two-day conference for basketball coaches at all playing levels and of all years of experience, that took place at RIC for two days this month. “It isn’t a typical clinic,” Walsh said. “It’s leadership driven. I don’t think there’s a lot of great opportunities for coaches to get out there and learn leadership skills.”

Walsh said the idea for the clinic came largely from talking with other college coaches about the coaching business and noting how little leadership training is provided on the job, despite its importance in building a winning team.

“I realized 75 percent of coaching is teaching leadership (such as) instilling confidence, motivation and mental toughness,” Walsh said. Though he has been talking with colleagues about the clinic for a year, he only opened registration six weeks in advance and he attracted about 80 coaches from colleges, high schools and preparatory schools. “I’m very happy with that,” Walsh said. “I do think it’s been successful.”

The Leadership Academy included seminars, roundtable discussions and interactive training sessions on topics that included building a championship culture, evaluating talent, building a confident team and creating a productive professional networking plan.

Speakers included Providence College Head Basketball Coach Ed Cooley and Cox Sports’ Vin Parise. Walsh also led some clinic sessions.

Mike Evanovich, a graduate assistant coach under Cooley at Providence College, who also played basketball for Cooley at Fairfield University, was one of the participants at the academy. He plans to make college basketball coaching his career and noted that learning about leadership is key. “Good leadership is important in a coach because you have to get people to believe in what you say so that they want to do what you believe in,” Evanovich said. “I hope to find here a couple of new ideas and ways to look at things.”

Walsh planned to deliver ideas on how the coaches could use leadership skills to establish a team culture that will sustain success. “Most of us work as an assistant coach and hope to one day be a head coach. Then you become one and you do what you liked and don’t do what you didn’t like, but that’s not really being trained to lead a program,” Walsh said.

Walsh’s former assistant coach Matt O’Brien, who has worked for five years as an assistant coach at the University of Vermont, came to see his mentor in action.

“I rely on Walsh for guidance, and it’s interesting to see the way this is presented,” O’Brien said. “I want to learn a better way of connecting with the kids I coach and to become part of making the program I run better.”