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Coaching: enthusiasm, passion

Lawrence Pierce
West Virginia University basketball coach Bob Huggins speaks Wednesday at the symposium at WVU Tech.

MONTGOMERY, W.Va. -- The town of Montgomery made quite a first impression on WVU men's basketball coach Bob Huggins on Wednesday.

Huggins was in town on the campus of WVU Tech, joining fellow West Virginia alum and attorney James "Rocky" Gianola for a symposium covering sports management, sports law, coaching and a variety of other topics.

The two spoke for just under an hour and a half to a mostly full and attentive engineering auditorium.

Just as the panel was set to begin at noon, a blaring test of the emergency system went off for several minutes and a screaming train went by the building.

Still, Huggins was happy with his first visit to the campus.

"A siren, a train went by - it was good," Huggins said. "We actually went down to Smithers even. I've flown over it before but I haven't been here. It was terrific, to have that many students come in, it was great."

Huggins seemed comfortable and right at home in the new setting, sharing a few entertaining stories from his coaching and playing career and trying to shed some light on his profession for the aspiring coaches in the room.

Between the laughs he got from his tales and the friendly barbs between Huggins and Gianola, the Mountaineer coach delivered some encouragement and advice. 

"I'm afraid sometimes we lose passion about what we do and the opportunities that we have," Huggins said when asked what he most wanted to get across. "Very little gets accomplished without enthusiasm and having some passion for what you do. This is still the greatest country in the world and there's so many opportunities for people to do and be what it is they want to do and be. I think sometimes we lose track of that."

One of Huggins' most stressed points was money and how coaching isn't a profession that should be entered for that reason alone.

That led to an interesting admission from the coach where he revealed he made $1,100 in his first year as an assistant at West Virginia and was able to "negotiate" his way to $13,000 per year to be the basketball coach and teach nine hours of physical education at his first head-coaching gig at Walsh University in Canton, Ohio.

Needless to say, Huggins is doing quite better financially these days even after turning down $6 million per year to be the coach of the Miami Heat during his years at Cincinnati, another story that got told on Wednesday.

"I think you are more apt to fail if your motivation is money," Huggins said. "If you get involved in something you have tremendous passion for and have a great will to continue to get better and make everything around you better, I think probably in the end you're going to make more money and more importantly you're going to be happy with your life and more fulfilled at the end of the day."

While Huggins' purpose wasn't to talk much current basketball, his Mountaineers will officially begin practice on Monday and there is an influx of new faces to get acquainted to the program and the coach's way of doing things in a short amount of time.

Fans and the coach are hoping the new blood can help improve on last season's 13-19 effort, but Huggins was making no predictions on Wednesday.

"It's kind of hard to tell," Huggins said. "We get two hours a week so we've just been trying to do some basic fundamental things and get a lot of shooting in. Ask me in a couple of weeks, I'll probably have a better idea."

Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, ryan.pritt@wvgazette.com, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.

 


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