Character and a "Relentless Pursuit" - Building a Winning Team with Coach Kari Pickens

April 3, 2024

Character and a "Relentless Pursuit" - Building a Winning Team with Coach Kari Pickens

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Creating and Sustaining Excellence in Organizations

Excellence in organizations, whether in business, country, or team settings, is crucial for their success and longevity. Achieving and maintaining excellence involves factors such as leadership, teamwork, dedication, and a commitment to continuous improvement. Coach Kari Pickens, head coach of the Ashland University women’s basketball team, exemplifies this principle through her remarkable record of wins, national championships, and unwavering dedication to her team’s success.

Lessons in Leadership and Adaptability

Coach Pickens reflects on her journey from being a player under legendary coach Sue Ramsey to becoming head coach herself. From Ramsey, she learned the importance of fighting for one’s team and maintaining steadiness amidst highs and lows. She also learned the value of embracing change and adaptation to ensure the team’s success.

Sustaining Excellence Through Guiding Philosophy and Selective Recruitment

Coach Pickens emphasizes the importance of sustaining excellence by adhering to a guiding philosophy rooted in mission, core values, and a commitment to continuous evaluation. Selective recruitment of staff and players, focusing on balancing strengths and weaknesses, prioritizing character, teamwork, and skill, contributes significantly to maintaining a culture of excellence.

Building Team Dynamics and Individual Growth

Through recruitment and personal care Coach Pickens emphasizes the importance of recruiting players who align with the team’s balanced approach and values, facilitating early conversations about roles to manage expectations. She fosters individual growth by prioritizing personal connections, creating an environment where players feel cared for, thus enabling them to reach their full potential both on and off the court

Balancing Relentless Pursuit with Sportsmanship: The Wolfpack Mentality

Coach Pickens instills a culture of relentless pursuit in her team, emphasizing the importance of playing hard and relentlessly pursuing their goals. Despite the intensity, she also maintains a spirit of sportsmanship, ensuring that her team plays with aggression akin to a pack of wolves while maintaining respect for the game and their opponents.

Navigating Challenges Amidst Leadership: Finding Balance in Turbulent Times

Coach Pickens reflects on the challenges she faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and political unrest, struggling to maintain neutrality while leading her team. Despite these trials, her greatest joy lies in player development, witnessing the growth of her athletes both on and off the court.

Fostering Servant Leadership Through Love and Teamwork

Coach emphasizes the importance of servant leadership within her team, rooted in the core value of being a great teammate and the foundation of love and light. By nurturing a culture where players genuinely care for each other, servant leadership naturally emerges, leading to acts of selflessness and support among teammates.

Fostering Emotional Connection and Skill Development

Coach Pickens emphasizes the importance of emotional connection before diving into physical aspects of basketball practice. Through daily connectors focusing on life topics and core values, players bond on an emotional level. Practices include disciplined skill development followed by intense small group and full team competitions, aiming to prepare players for game scenarios. Kari’s vision for the program is a relentless pursuit of excellence, aiming to be the best Division 2 Women’s Basketball team while positively impacting all who are involved.