February 1, 2011

Checking In with Dustin Kerns

Written by John Nash 13'

Dustin Kerns is currently in his fourth season on the Mission Campus as an assistant coach with the men's basketball team, his third as an assistant coach to Kerry Keating. Prior to Santa Clara, Kerns spent time working at Clemson, Tennessee Tech, Tennessee and most recently Wofford.

Kerns' diligence has made him a key contributor to the Santa Clara program. "He has done a phenomenal job in building relationships on the West coast to help us solidify our recruiting. His attention to detail and diligence in the daily effort to improve are exactly what we strive for in our program," said Bronco head coach Kerry Keating.

The Broncos are playing some of their best basketball in recent memory, as they have won their last four in a row and are tied for second in the West Coast Conference. SantaClaraBroncos.com (SCB) had the chance to catch up with Kerns (DK) to find out how he got into coaching and how it's changed his life.

SCB: How did you get into coaching?

DK: First off I love basketball, basketball is the ultimate team game to me. My dad, mom, and brother all played basketball, and we grew up as a basketball family. I played at the winningest high school program in the country, but realized that if I wanted to pursue basketball as a profession, it would have to be as a coach not a player. I studied coaches non-stop, and picked a college where I could really learn the profession. My high school team went to team camp at Clemson, and I fell in love with the school. Coach Shyatt had an incredible reputation, and after contact with his staff and my high school coach I knew Clemson would be a great place for me to learn to coach. Each summer I traveled the country working college camps and growing contacts and developing relationships. Getting into coaching is hard, but I was very fortunate that Coach Shyatt and his coaching staff allowed me to be very involved with the program.

SCB:
What kind of things did you learn from Coach Shyatt when you were a student at Clemson?

DK:
To this day I still call Coach Shyatt "Coach" because he will always be my coach. He taught, and continues to teach me, so much about the game of basketball, and the coaching profession. Coach Shyatt is an excellent basketball coach, but a better person. He has accomplished so much as a coach, but his first, second, third, and fourth priority is his family. What amazes me about Coach Shyatt is that he is the same person today that I met eleven years ago. I would not be where I am today without him. (note: Coach Shyatt is now at Florida serving as Associate Head Coach for his 7th season. He helped guide the Gators to national titles in 2006 and 2007.)

SCB:
What is your favorite memory as a coach?

DK:
Tough question, because I have so many. Many would think it would be a huge win, but for me it's the relationships I've made with the players and fellow coaches. The memories I have spending time in the airports, hotels, buses, meals, practices, before games, after games, shootarounds, office are my favorite memories. What makes it so special is the people you get to share it with.  The big games that we have won are special, but those can be re-watched because they are filmed and be relived over and over again. The other experiences that you go through hold a special place inside of you and are hard to share.  

SCB:
When you have a chance to get away from coaching, how do you like to spend your time?

DK:
It's hard because as coaches I'm not sure we ever really get away mentally. We are constantly thinking of ways to improve our team, players, or recruiting. In the offseason I love playing golf. Golf is fun to me because it's outdoors and I can spend time with others. My wife and I like to go the movies; we try to get a date-night when we can.

SCB:
You were fortunate enough to spend time with Coach Wooden a couple different times. What was that like?

DK:
It's something that is hard to explain, and an experience that I will cherish the rest of my life.  I had to pinch myself a few times as I was sitting there in his apartment talking to him. Coach Wooden lived his life for others, and after all his accomplishments he was always still thinking about others. As Jerry West once said after Coach Wooden passed away, "There are icons in this world, and they do not compare to John Wooden."

SCB:
What's your favorite T.V. show?

DK:
My favorite T.V. show is Curb your Enthusiasm and Seinfeld, which are both created by Larry David. I never get tired of them, and they always put me in a good mood. I grew up watching Seinfeld with my dad, and we always share laughs and lines with each other.

SCB:
You've worked a lot on the Cable Car Classic with Art Santo Domingo. Next year, Santa Clara will hold the 45th annual Cable Car Classic- the longest running holiday tournament in the country. How is that relationship special to you, and what have you learned?

DK:
First of all, Art is one of the most genuine people I've ever been around. He has the heart the size of California and is incredibly selfless. I have so much respect for him and how he founded the Cable Car Classic and how he continues to leave his legacy with it every year. Many people do not realize this, but Art still does everything for the Cable Car Classic. He signs all the contracts for the teams, he calls the coaches and recruits the teams, organizes all the gifts and awards. Art is a first-class in every way and I cherish his friendship.