A friend of a friend-Chris Holtmann and Chuck Burch-March 26

One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for March 26, 2015.

My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.

When you are in a low spot in your life that is usually a time when you find out who your true friends and colleagues are. In coaching, in business, and in relationships sometimes events take place that make people look at you different. I have found that friends don’t change their view of you when an event like that occurs.

In 1998 for the first and only time in my life I got fired from a job. I was the basketball coach at Winthrop University and I didn’t win enough games to meet the university’s expectations. Like everyone who experiences loss I went thru all the stages-shock, anger, denial and finally acceptance that it was just an opportunity disguised as an obstacle.

In coaching when you get fired a lot of people just stop acknowledging who you are. At the time I lost my job I felt like most people were disingenuous but now I have come to the conclusion most people don’t have the emotional maturity to deal with the questions; “What do you say?” or “What do you do for someone who loses their job?” The people who did have that emotional maturity all pretty much did the same things, they listened, they asked me what they could do to help, and most importantly that treated me the same.

One of those friends was Chuck Burch who had been the Director of Athletics and Liberty University and is currently the Vice-President for Athletics at Gardner-Webb University (NC).

Chuck in 1998 helped me sort out making the transition from college coach to university Director of Athletics. He was gracious with his time and his professional expertise. Chuck was also one of those people who had the emotional maturity to make me feel like I was going to be okay despite being out of a job. For that I am indebted and glad to call him a friend.

As a Vice-President of Athletics Chuck has had to hire a lot of people and like all in his positions has had to let some go. One coach he didn’t want to lose but gave the freedom to go is still a friend of his today. That coach is Chris Holtmann of Butler. He has an interesting story.


Chuck Burch

The Friend of the Friend-CHRIS HOLTMAN

chris holtmann

Career paths don’t always follow your plan

In the summer of 2013 Chris Holtmann was coming off a fantastic season as Head Men’s Basketball Coach of Gardner Webb University in Boling Springs, NC.  Chris was hired at Gardner-Webb in 2010 and had been the head coach there for 3 seasons. During those three seasons at Gardner-Webb, Chris turned around a struggling program that won just eight games the year before he got there. By his third season 2013, Gardner-Webb went 21-13, won ten of its final 11 games and finished a game out of first place in the Big South Conference. Chris earned Holtmann the Big South Coach of the Year award.

In the summer of 2013 he had to tell his Gardner-Webb basketball team something hard. Chris was leaving his head coaching postion at Gardner-Webb to become an assistant coach at Butler. In coaching circles that was a head scratcher. It wasn’t puzzling to Chris because his career plan was to become a Head Coach in one of the 5 power conferences. The Butler Bulldogs were heading into their first season in the Big East. Chris felt like in 3-5 years in a power conference he might get him a shot one day to become a head coach. He viewed an assistant coaching position within the Big East as the pathway to that.

Less than a year on the job his plans and timeline got moved up. The 35-year-old head coach at Butler who Chris was working for was Brandon Miller. Brandon stepped away from being the Head Coach due to medical reasons on Oct. 2, 2014. This was just after one season at the helm of the Butler Bulldogs. Brandon had replaced Brad Stevens who left Butler to coach in the NBA. To date there has been no explanation on what the medical condition was that caused Brandon to step down.

Chris was prepared and led the team to a 10-4 record to start the season including a win over North Carolina in the Bahamas. In January 2015 the Butler made him the permanent head coach. Butler went to the NCAA Tournament lost in the second round to Notre Dame and finished up with a 23-11 record.

Sometimes our plans come at us fast and furious. Be ready!

Good read on Chris and his coaching roots at link below


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