What’s your favorite thing about Christmas?
It sounds cliché, but family. As a coach you miss so many landmark holidays, vacations and events with immediate and extended family. This is the one time of the year when we are able to take about two days away from practice and games to spend time with family. The unfortunate thing is I usually come back from the break more tired physical, BUT mentally refreshed.
The one other thing I always enjoy is seeing the innocence of my kids. Santa, the elf in our home, the questions they have of the hows and whys of Christmas are so innocent. It is refreshing to have so little negativity and skepticism during this time of year through my kids’ eyes.
You turned 40 this year and your wife gave birth to your fourth child. Give us a little recap of 2017 and how life has changed for you this year.
I’M TIRED! This fourth child is definitely winning the nights right now. She still hasn’t slept through the night on a consistent basis so I have seen a lot of hours throughout the night. Although my wife takes the brunt of the feeding because she also isn’t taking a bottle. I just change a diaper and fall back asleep.
This year was crazy. I took a new job, moved, bought a house, got thrown into a new team, picked a new school for my kids, had a baby and started the basketball season all in a few-month period.
It was great. I feel that I became a better person. I have a sense of accomplishment because I have been able to slow down a bit BEFORE my move to appreciate what I have in life. I feel that I have learned to “think” more. Too often I feel we all get caught up “doing” all the time and rarely take time to “think” and realize why we do what we do. It helps make better choices.
How’s your season going at SIU-E this year?
This year our team is growing. It is great to go into a locker room every day with a group of guys you enjoy being around. In coaching that doesn’t always happen. We are definitely getting better. It is a process, but that is what I enjoy about coaching. Trying to find a way to get better every day.
What advice do you have for young players?
I would tell young players to work hard and play hard. Unfortunately, that seems to be a choice that too many young kids are not making. The one thing you can always control is your effort. It is a saying old as the day is long and still carries weight. I would tell kids not to go to the “next thing” too quick just because success doesn’t come immediately. Don’t make excuses or find a different team to play for just because it doesn’t happen for you right away.
What are your goals for the team this season?
Win. My goal is always to win. We are judged based on wins and losses. However, within those parameters I also want to win the right way. I want to win in a way that creates a culture that has sustainability. That is not easy. Sometimes short-term winning takes a back seat when building a culture that will have winning sustainability.
How’s the Barone team? Any prospective future athletes?
The Barone team definitely has energy. They are good little athletes but they are way too young to really know what their future holds on the court or field. The main thing and really only thing I preach to them is that they better play hard. They know that will be the first thing I ask or talk about when they get home from a practice or a game. Too often parents are specializing kids at too young of an age these days. Shoot, I didn’t play competitive basketball until sixth or seventh grade. I played baseball and soccer a lot more competitively growing up and my path ultimately led me to playing college basketball. So I just want my kids to play hard, work hard and enjoy it.
They are doing great in school. I am very proud of how well they have adjusted during the move to Edwardsville from Wichita. They had great friends in Wichita and it is hard to take them from that. Their maturity and willingness to try new things like choir, dance, and sports is something I still struggle to do at 40 YEARS OF AGE.
What’s your favorite Christmas family tradition?
I enjoy is seeing what ridiculous gift or outfit my mom gets for everyone to wear and take a family photo. She has the ability to make us all look so stupid while also being so proud because it shows how close of a family we have.
I also love seeing my brother and dad’s excitement to watch A Christmas Story together. My brother doesn’t do a ton of social media but it has become tradition for him to post a picture of them watching that together. This year my dad cuddled up with my son and quoted lines throughout the movie together while my brother watched as well. This is special because of the fight my dad is going through (legendary hoops coach Tony Barone Sr. is battling lung cancer). It just puts in perspective how awesome it is to be that kid on the couch with his dad even at the age of 40.
Do you have a favorite Christmas movie?
It would have to be “A Christmas Story” because of the tradition. It never gets old seeing my dad laugh when the duck comes out at the end with its head on still and then the waiter cuts it off.
Then a good late night viewing of “It’s A Wonderful Life” always puts a great end to the day.
Do you have a New Year’s resolution?
Be positive. It is not always easy. I have found that I feel better when I am positive so why not be more positive. Try to make an effort to think positive when things get a little sped up or negative. I am fortunate to have enough positivity in my life to draw upon in those moments.
Any final thoughts as we head into 2018?
Continue to find a way to get better, be better and make others better. I am a big believer that we are all a product of the people who have invested in us over our lives. It is our responsibility to represent those people in how I live.
Brian Barone played basketball at Texas A&M University and Marquette University and holds a master’s degree in communications. He now coaches men’s basketball at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.