Climbing the rungs of the coaching ladder to the highest levels is all about focusing on the process. In this third episode, Coach James Arnold, joins the podcast to chat about his coaching lineage from being a young student assistant at Glenville State and where he is today at NCAA Division I, Southeast Missouri. Reflecting back on his journey it became clear it wasn’t faith, luck or any other single factor that led him to the success he has enjoyed. It was solely the daily decisions to be elite, an extreme attention to detail and enjoying the process.
This episode was truly a pleasure for me. Selfishly it was a chance to catch up with a coach I admire a great deal. The admiration doesn’t come from the wins/losses and success he has, but from the person James is. His passion for self development, the growth mindset and enhancing his life for the benefit of his athletes, is to be appreciated.
There are some true gems within this episode and I encourage you to check it out in its entirety. Some highlights include:
- “Here’s your whistle. Don’t ever F-ing blow it.” Life as a student assistant.
- From West Virginia to Missouri: A leap of faith
- 23 year old head college coach
- Realizing he was meant to be a women’s coach
- Don’t fight the generation differences, try helping breach the gap
- Battle against his ego
- Jobs have to be about fit
- The DI Lifestyle: Lessons learned from his transition to SEMO
- Growing from reflecting
- Personal Ambition vs. Personal Responsibility
About Coach Arnold
Coach James Arnold (@coacharnoldSEMO), is the lead assistant for the women’s basketball program at Southeast Missouri (NCAA Division I). Arnold is currently on his second season with the Lady Redhawks. He serves as the recruiting coordinator for the program, as well as scheduling. This is his first gig in the Division I game. Before joining the SEMO staff, Arnold spent the previous twelve seasons as a head coach.
His head coaching experience started at the age of 23 after taking over the North Central Missouri women’s team after one season as the assistant. In the words of Arnold, “We enjoyed a lot of success early. Didn’t take over the program a the opposite 20 yard line, we started in the red zone.” In the four years Arnold led the program they won 91 games, two region championships and played in the NJCAA national tournament. His 2007 team won 30 games, broke multiple school records and was inducted into the North Central Missouri Hall of Fame in 2008.
Next rung on Arnold’s coaching ladder was a move to Highland Community College. This time he did not start in the red zone and had to build a program for the first time. His first season led to 9 program wins. Ironically, Arnold claims this was his best coaching experience and where he really learned to coach; ultimately laying the foundation for the coaching philosophy he still uses. A key lesson he embodies is,”You don’t need a lot of money to be clean, neat and excellent.” His time at Highland taught him the importance of doing anything to help his athletes feel part of something special regardless of resources.
Carrying over his philosophy to his next head job at Central Methodist it didn’t take long for Arnold to turn the program around. Taking the CMU program from 5 wins the year before he arrived to 17 in his first year at the helm earning himself coach of the year honors. Building on this first year of success, the Lady Eagles went on to post back to back 20 win seasons and three straight finishes in the top 3 in the HAAC. This is typically the point in coaches careers where they become comfortable in their ways, not the case with Arnold.
After 12 seasons as a head coach, an opportunity came Arnold’s way to join the staff at DI Southeast Missouri. When asked about making this change the advice James gave was to “align yourself with the right star.” Being able to coach under Rekha Patterson (former Baylor assistant) was the star he had been looking for. The chance to learn and grow underneath Coach Patterson was something he did not want to look back on and regret.
Where Coach Arnold’s ladder goes from here he does not know. Reflecting back on where he has been is the only way to connect the dots to where he currently is. Without the student assistant job at Glenville State; he doesn’t even make it to North Central Missouri. Without the head coaching experience and success he had; he doesn’t make it to the DI level. His advice, “Focus on balancing your personal ambitions with your personal responsibilities. Do that, and you can be elite.”
Phone Number: 660-359-1826
References and Links
Southeast Missouri Women’s Basketball
Coach Bob Williams