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Coach Obey: How a Military Background Helps Her Coach Basketball

Coach Obey: How a Military Background Helps Her Coach Basketball
May 16, 2022 | Andre Harakas | 6 min read

Precision, Urgency, and Attention to Detail

For those wondering what hard work looks like, Coach Jaresha Obey is a great example. Although she was born in Detroit, Michigan, she spent time growing up all over the United States including Mississippi and California. A huge part of what molded her into the hard-working person she presents today is her father, who served in the U.S. Air Force for 27 years.

Coach Obey started out her coaching career going into the last semester of her schooling at Rochester University. She had just finished playing basketball and was looking to make a transition from her athletic career. What better of a transition than to move into coaching? This is exactly what she did. Her initial role consisted of washing jerseys, driving the bus, keeping track of stats, and other important yet repetitive tasks. She moved on from this role into other coaching positions, including a coaching role at Delaware State University.

Along her coaching journey, she decided to join the U.S. Air Force in 2009. To this day, she continues to serve in the Air Force. She leaves one weekend a month and stays ready for whenever she is called to serve for extended periods of time. All of these experiences contributed to her unique coaching perspective that she has today in just the beginning of her coaching career.

All In Takeaway #1: Remind your team what the meaning is behind team culture. Team culture is “who we are and what we do”

Coach Obey agrees if coaches are not intentional, team culture can quickly become a word that is thrown around without taking on any true meaning. Coaches must continually remind their team what the meaning is behind team culture, “who we are and what we do”. For Coach Obeys’ teams, she wants the team culture to represent discipline, hard work, and attention to detail. Her military background comes into play as discipline, hard work, and attention to detail is preached throughout the Air Force. In her words, discipline in action is “consistently operating within a standard of excellence.”

Next, hard work is not being afraid of making sacrifices when it is for the good of the program. For athletes, hard work is emptying the tank and striving to go beyond the expectation. Lastly, attention to detail is exactly as it sounds, but for Coach Obey this may look a little different. For her, this is attention to every LITTLE detail. For instance, if she says to go down and back and touch the line, EVERY athlete much touch the line. Even if one athlete does not do this, this shows a lack of attention to detail. It is important for every program to figure out what they want their team culture to be as it is what should be at the heart of every program.

All In Takeaway #2: People First, Mission Always

In her training for the Air Force, Coach Obey was taught “mission first, people always”. Meaning, no matter what happens the mission will come as a result but it is also important to care for the people in the process. In her coaching journey, she quickly realized that she should flip this around to “people first, mission always”. This places an emphasis on caring for the people first, and the results second. Whether or not the mission works, you CAN NOT fail the people. As much as people want you to think coaching is about the X’s and O’s, it is about the relationships with the athletes, the ultimate separator between a good and great coach.

All In Takeaway #3: Understand that Life Happens

Coach Obey shared a quick story that shows why coaches should first look to be understanding before any disciplinary actions need to take place.

In this story, it was the pregame film session when one of the athletes showed up considerably late. This was especially unusual for this athlete considering that she usually always shows up on time. In this situation, a coach could have taken multiple actions: calling out the athlete in front of the others, cutting their minutes for the next game, making the entire team run, or another disciplinary action. Instead of doing any of those, Coach Obey decided to take the athlete aside to see if everything was ok. Immediately the athlete started breaking down as she was dealing with relationship issues in her family.

It is these types of moments and situations that helps build the bond between the coaching staff and athletes. All coaches should take note of this quick story as it is a great practical example of how to build stronger bonds between the coaching staff and the players.

Coach Obey is entering her 13th year as a coach, her 2nd year as the Head Coach for the Women’s Basketball Team at Madonna University. Her first year, she was brought on just before the start of the season which contributed to the team’s shaky 0-7 start. From there, the team went on to win 4 straight games. They made the playoffs for the first time in 4 years. As Coach Obey enters her first full offseason as the Head Coach, she will look to place a heavier emphasis on her team culture of discipline, hard work, and attention to detail. The Women’s Basketball Team at Madonna University will be a lot of fun to watch in the 2022-2023 season as 2nd year Head Coach, Jaresha Obey, looks to lead the team into the playoffs for the second straight season.

Coach Obey with the U.S. Air Force

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