In this article, the Windsor Lancers men’s basketball head coach, Chris Oliver explains his decision for taking a sabbatical from his position to tour the world and advance his coaching know-how.
By Chris Oliver
(WINDSOR, ON) – I am taking a sabbatical. I am taking a year off from coaching. Instead I am going to travel around the world with my family. I am going to spend the seven months of the season living differently.
This may seem to be a strange decision. I know it has been interpreted many ways by different people I have told.
Some are unsure why I am doing such a thing.
I am blessed to have this opportunity and understand the differing perspectives. My university affords me the opportunity in my contract. I never thought I would ever pursue a sabbatical. Since I was young I have only ever wanted to coach.
I have woken up every day for the past 20 years loving what I do.
Sure there are difficulties and frustrations with my job; players that are challenging, administrative road blocks that prevent me from doing what I think is best for our program, the lows of a loss that keep me up all night.
None of those are why I am taking a year off.
I want to live differently for a year.
1. I am a life-long learner that wants to learn more.
I am going to get the opportunity to spend time with coaches, at practices, at games, at clinics, in places around the world. I will be able learn and challenge my understanding of coaching and basketball with perspectives from all over the world.
I especially will be excited to attend university, high school, and professional practices. I love watching practice and seeing how others approach the same coaching process I deal with everyday.
My plan is not only to learn for myself, but also to share everything I learned through this blog and my website.
2. I want to meditate every day.
I have always been motivated by challenge. Someone once told me chewing gum was not good for me. I have not chewed gum since and that was in the sixth grade.
I am honestly not sure why at this point, but I am stubbornly sticking to it.
I am a very spiritual person. I love philosophy; especially Eastern. It has always given me a different way of looking at my life and profession.
The challenge with my career has always been balancing my ultra-competitive side with my spiritual side. Inevitably the competitive side wins. That is the nature of coaching, especially when winning is a method of evaluating my job status.
This year I want the spiritual side to win. I am going to wake up every morning and meditate.
Meditation is well documented as an extremely impactful method of maintaining your well being. I won’t go into those details here but, for me, meditating daily will be both a challenge and a way of connecting more with that side of me.
3. I love my family.
My wife has always been supportive of my job. She is my best friend and we have been creating an amazing life together for the last 10 years.
She is growing her business and purpose at Fit Mama and I want to support her with my focus and energy.
Since having kids, I have shifted my schedule to be with my daughters at different times of the day. My simple goal has been to spend time with them everyday.
They call it Dad and Daughter Day (even if it is sometimes just a few hours), and I love it.
I love being a father. I love seeing them grow. So a big part of this journey is to spend more time with them and my wife.
4. Really, if you had the opportunity wouldn’t you?
I mean, I get to travel, literally around the world, and experience different cultures and ways of living.
It won’t be easy. We are travelling with our two- and four-year-old daughters. We won’t be travelling on private jets and living in five-star hotels.
I am sure at the end I will be happy to be home.
Good and bad, it will surely inspire and impact me and my family.
The hardest part will definitely be not being there for my players who I care for deeply. They have been incredibly supportive, even though I am sure many do not like my decision.
I know part of this process will see me growing as a coach and as a person. This will only help me more as I strive to live the life of servitude I have chosen to pursue.
The team will be in good hands while I am away with a former player and assistant coach. I’ll write more about the transitional experience down the road.
Please follow my travels on Instagram as I share my experiences with basketball and the world.