Motivation is the driving force behind many of our life pursuits. It’s an essential part of developing and attaining goals in work, relationships, and even making sure you get in your daily steps. Searching out new ways to stay motivated during times when you feel particularly passive can be tricky. Those are the moments we could all use a little behind-the-scenes support — or a tiny shoulder angel whispering inspirational quotes in our ear. So, who better to give us a dose of encouragement than Coach Scott “Scotty” Davenport, Bellarmine University’s men’s head basketball coach.
Louisville native Scott Davenport credits his teachers, coaches, and basketball for impacting his life in the most positive of ways. “The game of basketball was about being part of something bigger, and I wanted to be a part of it so bad that it brought out the best of me.” Living his best life in a vocation he loves, Coach Davenport sets the example for his players, staff, and, well…anyone he speaks with, to dig deeper and search out their own best version of themselves. He explains one of his go-to themes like this: When you’re part of something greater, it brings up positive qualities within you that you never knew were there. And it’s this philosophy that motivates his players to put these new found attributes to use on and off the court.
Coach Davenport is no stranger to being part of something bigger and then making it better. He served as an assistant coach under both Denny Crum and Rick Pitino at the University of Louisville and spent 10 seasons as the head boys’ coach at Ballard High School. He became head coach at Bellarmine in 2005, and since then the Knights have won the Division II National Championship in 2011, made four trips to the D2 Final Four, and he’s coached five D2 All-Americans. Coach is making it happen everywhere he goes, and he hasn’t forgotten one life lesson along the way. He says he’s learned so much from so many that he can’t even begin to name all the individuals who’ve influenced him. What he has remembered is to take these positive life teachings and infuse them into his coaching.
Coaching a sports team isn’t only about calling the winning play or constructing the perfect practice session, there’s an emotional component that works in tandem. Coach Davenport knows this all too well, which is why he makes sure to incorporate the valuable teachings he’s scored to instruct and inspire. He tells stories of the many times he was offered help and recognizes these as true turning points that brought him closer to his dreams. From his coaches in middle school and high school, to college coaches like Bill Olsen (who went on to become UofL’s Director of Athletics), his personal experience directly informs his passion when passing on this message: Accepting the help you need isn’t a sign of weakness, but one of strength. Receiving the help of another can be validating to both parties and assist you in staying the course to reaching your goals.
If you’re in need of a little life coaching, look no further than Coach Davenport’s playbook. One way he continues to uplift his players is by fostering an attitude of care in his teammates. “Caring is a special talent,” he says. He goes on to explain that he and his staff place a huge emphasis on caring socially, academically, and athletically. “That’s powerful,” he says. Practicing an attitude of care not only gives your goals a direction but can increase positive emotions and promote resilience. When one sets down a path of intentional caring, this keeps everyone around them excited and optimistic. “We compliment it (caring) constantly, and we teach it. That’s what coaching is,” says Davenport.
“Caring is a special talent,” he says. Practicing an attitude of care not only gives your goals a direction but can increase positive emotions and promote resilience.
If you’re still feeling less than motivated, Coach says to ask yourself what can you do for another. “Bringing out the best in someone else will bring out the best in you,” Coach explains. Being present and/or doing good for someone else helps that person, of course, but also contributes to your feelings of well-being. Volunteering is said to have depression-lowering benefits and recent studies suggest a link between generosity and happiness in the brain. All of these good feelings contribute to keeping you motivated.
When Coach Davenport speaks of all that keeps him motivated, he talks about his belief in the players he coaches. “So, what motivates me is my belief in these young people because they’re incredible,” he says. He goes on to say that he demands a lot of them, but this is a fair ask when you also offer support — it’s only fair if you do both, Davenport says. He sets out to create an “emotional paycheck” with his goal being to make these college years the greatest of his players’ lives. “I want them to use the passion, dedication, attention to detail that will benefit the next 40 or 50 years of their life,” he says. This way his players will have emotional paychecks to cash for a lifetime. “These young people are our answer. I believe in them,” he says.
Motivation keeps you moving forward and can show you what goals you continue to value. “When I look back,” he begins, “what those coaches did for me — there are no words to describe it.” And Coach Davenport is definitely paying it forward. His infectious positivity is rooted in care and enthusiasm, and he suggests that every day is to be appreciated, saying, “So what I would encourage everybody to do is be a part of something that’s bigger than yourself. And when it means that much to you, it’ll bring out the best in you, too.” And he adds, “I’m the luckiest guy who ever coached.”
Coach Davenport Pro Tip:
“One concept we built this program on is that we never ever delay gratitude,” he says. Coach suggests you take several seconds to think of two to three people you wish you had a chance to thank during the course of your life. “So, we live our life here never delaying gratitude to a teammate, a student manager, or a professor,” he says. Extending thoughts of gratitude or calling up an old friend to thank them can boost feelings of happiness and strengthen relationships.
By Tonilyn Hornung | Photo by Erika Doll