I just knew I was going to coach college basketball. No doubt in my mind, I knew that I would be working the sideline on a Saturday afternoon somewhere. I also knew that most of the jobs went to people that were former players (regardless of coaching ability), or to people that were connected to the right other people. Since I did not play college basketball, and since I was not well connected, I focused on the one thing I could change. I decided to earn an advanced degree, since many schools typically require that you either have one or begin work towards one while on staff.
So off I went to Washington State to earn my MS in Mathematics. Why not Sports Administration or something similar to the field? Well, because most of the time the degree doesn’t matter. Besides, Dean Smith had an advanced degree in Mathematics and things worked out well for him. Why not for me, right? If I became connected with the right people then the degree wouldn’t matter, but not having one could produce a potential roadblock. I needed that edge and math was easy for me.
While at WSU I rubbed elbows with some incredible people. Just about everyone was willing to help each other with whatever. Most likely this is due to the fact that Pullman, Washington is located right near the End of the Earth. Well, at least I could see it from there, or so the saying goes. It was during this period of my life when I learned about how good ideas can come from anywhere. I would see head coaches of very successful programs sitting down with no-name coaches who would be diagramming plays with salt and pepper shakers. They knew that good ideas can come from anywhere, and chances are that no-name probably got the idea from someone with a name that you just didn’t know yet.
The SQL community is exactly the same way.
In 2005 I was at a PASS conference and having a chat with Chuck Heinzelman. I forget how long I was bothering him before he decided to shake me by saying “you know what, you should talk with Kathi.” Chuck introduced me to Kathi Kellenberger. I asked Kathi if she would be willing to do some tech editing of some articles I wanted to submit to Steve Jones for publication at SQL Server Central. She agreed and my career as a database professional took a turn. And I have spent much of my time these past few years trying to give back to the community that has helped me whenever I needed help.
I have had the nickname ‘Rockstar’ for over twenty years now. I always thought that one day I would simply be known as ‘Coach’. Perhaps even as ‘DBA Coach’ at some point, I don’t know. After all, how would you ever earn such a designation? Perhaps by doing things to help others become better, I suppose.
And that’s why I am heading down to Florida today. To take a few more steps towards helping others become a little bit better at what they do.