ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — For University at Albany head coach Dwayne Killings, developing his players off the floor is even more important than developing them on it. It’s why he established the program’s leadership academy. Tuesday, they had a very special guest speaker.
Kevin Carroll is a true success story. Abandoned by his parents at six years old, he went on to serve ten years in the Air Force, became the head trainer with the Philadelphia 76ers, and worked at Nike in a self created position: creative kataylst (the K is for Kevin). He’s collaborated with the likes of Russell Wilson and Kobe Bryant.
His life’s work made him a perfect speaker for the leadership academy, and his story hit home for the players. “It was really impactful,” said freshman forward Aaron Reddish. “Hearing his story, where he came from, that he basically came from nothing and that the ball is what really kept him focused to get through life, that’s a lot of our stories.”
Killings asked Carroll to be a guest speaker because of the impact he’s had on his life and coaching career, and he’s glad Carroll’s message reached his players. “The thing that I feel great joy from is watching our kids start taking notes,” said Killings. “It’s starting to go off in their head like, ‘This is an amazing experience’, but also that person is pouring into them.”
After people in his life inspired him to persevere, Carroll vowed to pass it on. “In my story I talk about that circumstances never dictate your destiny,” Carroll said. “You can rise above your suffering and circumstances, so I wanted them to understand that there’s always possibility out there if you stay curious, if you tap into your community, have people supporting you, and you find a way to get people to rally around your hopes, your dreams, and aspirations. But that one thing that I said is, ‘Don’t talk about it, be about it.'”
Graduate student Chuck Champion is grateful to refine not just his basketball skills, but his life skills in Killings’ program. Champion says, “We get an opportunity to step away from basketball and not focus on practices, or workouts, or lifts or anything like that and look at the bigger picture of life, which is very important. More important than anything else.”