This episode features an interview with Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski ‘69, a Naismith Hall of Fame coach, a five-time national champion at Duke, and a six-time gold medalist as head Coach of the US Men’s National Team. He was also the West Point Men’s Basketball Head Coach from 1975 to 1980.
Coach K was initially reluctant to attend West Point, but eventually realized how much he loved the academy, the Army, and the importance of being exposed to so many different ways of leading. In his senior year, Mike was captain of West Point’s basketball team. Following graduation, he served in the Army for five years before beginning his college coaching career. Mike believes that the education, training, and environment of West Point benefits people well beyond their time attending the academy. He sees the culture based system of shared values as important for being a lifelong learner and leader, which has helped him coach and guide his players to become well-educated, strong, successful men both on and off the court.
In this episode of On Point, Coach K talks about how he ensures that failure is not a destination, and how accountability helps people become the best version of themselves. He explains how his time at West Point and in the military informed and affected his approach to teaching and coaching. Mike provides insight into his career coaching in college and the US Men’s National Team, along with the challenges and solutions for teaching the youth of today. He also describes the importance of communication, and creating powerful and inspiring visions that have helped lead and motivate his teams.
"In the military, obviously it can be life or life or death. And so in sport we talk about it being life, but it's not. There is pressure and all that, but you need to know the truth in that moment. You have to have the courage to say or do what needs to be said or done in the moment it needs to be said or done. And really that's what the academy was all about and still is about."
"A culture based on value stands the test of time. It's great during good times, but you know what? It's even better during the tough times. And so what I've learned is whether the unit, I was an artillery officer, or the unit I was in, or the teams, you know, whether it be West Point teams, Duke teams, or I was an 11-year coach for the US team; I’ve always tried to create a good culture and based on values."
(03:52) Playing for West Point
(07:50) Lessons learned as a cadet
(13:36) Building culture in sports
(18:24) Developing leadership skills
(22:40) Coaching at Duke
(31:58) Balance in teaching others
(37:29) Teaching the youth of today
(39:16) Challenges faced with change and communication
(46:31) Creating impactful visions and messages
(52:00) Giving back to fans