Conversation with Frank Dubois, Director of Nike's Leadership
Development Program (Part 2)
This is the second
part of my conversation with Frank Dubois, Director of the Nike
Leadership Development Program. Frank is a former high school
guidance counselor who has worked with Nike since 1976. He is in
charge of Nike's leadership and life skills seminars that campers are
required to attend during the second and third days of the Nike All
America Basketball Camp for high school players. Last, week, Frank
and I spent almost an hour chatting about the camp and the campers.
In the first part of our conversation (which was published on the
Duke Basketball Report website Monday), Frank discussed a range of
topics related to elite high school basketball players. In the
second part of our conversation, which appears below, Frank talks
more specifically about Nike's leadership and college preparedness
training seminars. What follows is an edited transcript of what we
Campers and the
Nike Leadership Development Seminars
Johnny Goldfinger: Do
the leadership development seminars meet for two full days?
Frank Dubois: Oh yes,
it's grueling. Back in the old days when we first started the
program and on up to about four years ago, it was a balanced program
where the kids would go to class in the morning and the kids would
play basketball in the afternoon and evening. I think it was about
four years ago that Nike decided it wanted to do the leadership part
upfront and [starting on the fourth day] its all basketball. And I
think they have different speakers [during the last three days].
It's usually like a professional basketball player or someone like
Johnny Goldfinger: What
kind of feedback do you get from the kids about the leadership
Frank Dubois: As the
kids are doing it, they do some grumbling because they came here to
play basketball. They will drag their feet getting to class. But
once they get into these things they really enjoy them.
One of the nice
things that we have here is that we have the leverage: they really
want to play. If they don't do what we want them to do, then they
don't get to play.
Johnny Goldfinger: So
you guys have made this a fun activity in addition to learning.
Frank Dubois: Exactly,
I don't allow anybody to talk at them. You got to have them up and
doing things. This is summer for them too and we want to trick them
into learning some stuff, that's what we're really trying to do here.
It's eleven sessions, eleven hours over a two-day period, which is,
to me, pretty grueling. They're going from one session to another
9:00 to 12:00, lunch from 12:00 to 1:00, back in the class 1:00 to
4:00 and the next day the same thing. [Then the players are
practicing in the evening.] It's good for them to get an idea,
because you know how college is. You're going to bust your butt.
Johnny Goldfinger: Do
you guys do basically the same thing with the women?
Frank Dubois: Yeah, we
do a lot of the same things. The girls love this stuff. The girls
are all chatty, they say "Oh, we're going to class! This is
going to be fun!"
Johnny Goldfinger: It
sounds like a different dynamic going on in the two camps.
Frank Dubois: Totally.
Totally. Quite honestly, I love the girls' camp a lot more. The
boys' camp I really like and really feel like we're making a
difference. But the girls' camp I'd do it for free.
Johnny Goldfinger: It's
interesting that the girls appreciate what you do at the camp more
than the boys.
Frank Dubois: Oh
Johnny Goldfinger: I
wonder if that's just a girls versus boys thing or something about
the position they're in with regard to basketball?
Frank Dubois: I think
it's all pieced together. It's the position of basketball, the
machismo, the maturity. And having been enabled all your life as
opposed to never having equal types of facilities in women's sports.
[Women's sports] are the Rodney Dangerfields of sports, they never
get any respect.
Campers for the SAT
Johnny Goldfinger: Looking
over the media guide, I noticed you guys do SAT preps for the
Frank Dubois: We give
them a sample, an old SAT that's been given in the past. We do that
with the underclassmen, either the kids going into their sophomore
year or junior year. The underclassmen, what they do is a little bit
different than what the rising seniors are doing. The first day with
the underclassmen, what we do is give them one verbal section of the
SAT and one math section and then go over some test taking
strategies. Like on the SAT it says, "don't guess," but
you and I know if you can get rid of two distracters then the laws of
probability are on your side and you should guess. A lot of kids
don't know some of the things like that or how to use their time.
It's pretty much what you'd get on any SAT prep course.
We do a little bit
[of reading comprehension and vocabulary building] as part of the
test taking techniques. Part of that, like in teaching them the
verbal part of the SAT, is because there is a reading section on it.
We do get into those skills on the reading?. [The SAT] has a sentence
completion, where there's like two missing words and you have to find
two words in tandem to fit in. It's not that it's hard, what makes
it hard is the vocabulary words, the two words you have to fit in
there. That's where we get into some of the vocabulary skill
Development and Team Building
Johnny Goldfinger: What
is the leadership development part of the seminars?
Frank Dubois: Its run
by Homer Turner. Homer is a guidance counselor. What he gets into
are things like what are the qualities [of leadership]. If you're
going to teach someone to be a leader, you have to teach him to be a
leader. Some have it innately, but the vast majority don't. [Homer
goes over] the qualities of a good leader. Then they [also] do some
role playing type things, situational type things.
interesting [seminar] in the leadership training is Kevin Clark. He
is actually in charge of the learning part of the new Developmental
League in the NBA. He used to be an academic advisor for athletes at
Michigan State. Now he works for the NBA. His part of the
leadership development is more the academic type things, [such as
explaining] the need to be literate.
[Dubois points to
the "Team Building" seminar listed on the schedule of
events.] They have all of these different activities that they do.
Like one of the activities we have is this ten-foot log?this sucker
is huge. You put six kids on the log, everybody's standing up on the
log. Then you tell them, "okay, you have to line up in
alphabetical order by the city you come from but you can't get off
the log." So they have to help each other and in team building
[they have] different roles to play. So you find out who the
cheerleader is, you find out who the thinker is. There's just all
kind of little things for them to do. [Marvin Mitchell] is the
academic advisor at the University of Louisville.
[Dubois points to
the "Interviewing" seminar on the schedule of events.]
Brian Crow is a doctor of kinesiology at the University of Slippery
Rock. He deals with kids on good and bad interviewing techniques.
I'm sure you've seen some people interviewed and they're just
Training for the Campers
Frank Dubois: Michelle
Rogers is from St. Louis University and she does a whole thing on
etiquette and manners. George Raveling was the one who came up with
the idea that we needed to do that. Because he was telling us that,
when he was coaching like at Iowa, Washington, and USC, he would take
these kids out to dinner when they were on the road and some of the
kids didn't even know how to order off the menu. It reflects on your
school how your kids purport themselves. Everyone has fundraisers.
You have these nice dinners and things and you're going to bring
players to these dinners. If they don't have etiquette and manners,
they don't know what fork to use, it's a discomfort level for them?.
It's a real life
skill for everyone, all of us. How many of us have ever sat down at
a really fancy dinner, and you've got a fork and spoon going across
this way and three or four forks over here. Even for me, as an
adult, my rule of thumb is if I don't know what to do, I watch and
wait. Just like putting the napkin on your lap, how you do it, what
do you do with the napkin when you leave the table? You're not
supposed to cut a dinner roll; you break a roll. You get a big thing
of butter and its not pats. How do you cut it and what do you do
with the butter? Really neat things like that.
But she also gets
into things like, when you and I met, I came up to you, shook hands,
and looked you in the eyes. You ever tried to do that with a
teenager. [They say] "Hey man" and are doing all this
stuff with their hands [Dubois makes gestures with his hands]. Well
that doesn't work in corporate America. So she works with them on
that, that's part of etiquette.
And also part of
etiquette is being able to say thank you when someone does something
nice for you. So the third part of her hour, is writing a thank you
note to George Raveling and Nike for inviting them to the camp. [She
tells] them how much this really gets you in life by acknowledging
and thanking people; people don't forget that type of thing. I sit
in on all the sessions, so that I can see what they're doing,
reevaluate, and see what I want to keep and toss out. [In class],
she said [to the students] you know what would really be good for you
to do is to write your own thank you note to George Raveling after
you get home, after you've been there for a week. She used real
thank you notes, she went out and bought a ton of thank you notes and
Finances, "License for
Life," and Conflict Resolution Seminars
Frank Dubois: One of
the biggest problems on campuses today is finances, credit cards. Do
you know that 85% of undergraduate students have credit cards that
they get once they get to college? Do you know that 40% of kids get
themselves in financial trouble with credit cards during their first
year? They think its candy. What happens is kids destroy their
whole credit rating and they're not even out of college. There are a
lot of people that all of a sudden have this indebtedness from these
credit cards from putting pizzas on credit cards and buying clothes
when they can't afford it. The interest rates are so astronomical
that they're lucky to be able to pay the interest rate at the end of
Wells Fargo is
working with us and they put together a really neat game, it's like
Family Feud only it deals with college finances. So they talk to the
kids a little bit about it. They divide it into chunks about college
finances, interest rates and how much it really costs you. The two
teams have to get up, and they have the lights and buzzers and
everything, and then they'll have a question like on Family Feud.
They can take the question or give it to the other people. Whoever
hits the thing first, the lights go off and stuff like that. The
kids really felt like they got a lot out of that.
[Dubois points to
the "License for Life" seminar on the schedule of events.]
Mitch Davis is a police chief in Illinois. This License for Life
deals with drunk driving, also drug abuse, and being approached by a
law officer. They have these distortion goggles. He brings some
distortion goggles, kids have to walk the line, they have the
distortion goggles on and trying to do high-fives and stuff. It's
really a hoot, but it really also gives them a reality check on when
you drink and you think you're holding your liquor when you're really
not. You don't have the reflexes. I hate to think how many people
wish they could have had a night back, when they either destroyed
their own lives or destroyed someone else's life.
[Dubois points to
the "Conflict Resolution" seminar on the schedule of
events.] Another huge thing, especially at the high school level, I
don't see it so much on the college level, is anger management and
conflict resolution. Conflict is just part of life. But who teaches
kids how to deal with conflict? And we all have [to deal with
conflict], almost all the time there's going to be interpersonal
difficulties. Over the years you and I have learned how to deal with
it. But all you have to do is think about Columbine and what's on
the news today, those kids in Jersey. These kids did not have very
good anger management skills. We spent time teaching them how to
deal with that internal anger, stress management techniques,
breathing techniques, just little things about getting stress out of
your life and all that type of stuff. Peter is a pastor from San
Diego and he does this with gang kids. In San Diego they have a huge
Nutrition, and College Admissions Seminars
Frank Dubois: The NCAA
use to do these big groups where they talk to all 180 kids at one
time. They had a nice Powerpoint presentation, but as soon as the
lights went down the kids feel asleep. They have come up with a real
good game. So they're in one of our [seminar] groups. They have 12
kids at a time. Their game is like Jeopardy. One category is
transferring, another is recruiting, etc. They also give kids time
to ask questions that they have personally. We've found that
different kids from different places have different questions. They
[the NCAA] love it. They're putting a lot of resources into it.
That means they have people there for all of our sessions for two
days. They've found a good way for their message to get across.
It's a way that really works.
[Dubois points to
the "Nutrition and Training" seminar on the schedule of
events.] This guy is great. He works with the University of Iowa
with their basketball team on nutrition and training. A lot of these
kids are away from home for the first time, so, its like, these kids
for breakfast they'll have a coke. We're in the hotel so they have
it all set up. They have soft drinks, they have milk; it's like
college, you know when you go into a college cafeteria? Exact same
thing, only these yahoos are making really poor decisions and so they
drop like a dirty nightgown [in the scrimmages]. When you're just
drinking soda and eating junk food and stuff like that, you're doing
yourself a lot of harm.
This guy is Dr.
Jamie Ballard. Jamie's from Washington D.C. He does some really
interesting things, doing some value stuff. [Dubois demonstrates a
game that has kids rank what is more or less important in their
lives.] You know what was really interesting to me when I sat in on
that, how many kids put romance as 5 [the highest rank]. I didn't
think they would. I would of thought they wouldn't bare their soul
that much, they'd put a 1 or a 2. They do a lot of discussion about
what is really important in life and where do you want to go with it.
Roy Evans is an
admissions officer at Western Michigan University. We have decided
that the kids need to understand the admissions process. Before we
got into the sessions we did do a whole admissions thing for the
seniors. It's a month-by-month thing. Like when you get home this
summer, what you should be doing in July, August, and September as
far as like the application process. As soon as they get home they
ought to be getting on the Internet and starting to download
applications. They should start to working on their list of
activities and things that they have. If you don't get that stuff in
early it puts you in a precarious position.
So basically this
is what we do with the kids. It's really intense. They go to class
in one-hour sessions. We do these sessions for two days. We also do
what's called career decision maker with the seniors. It's a
paper-pencil career thing [that everyone does before they go to
college]. We're not looking for an occupation for them. But we
think they should at least have some idea about the area they seem to
have an interest in. Then we also do that admission thing and during
the first day the kids are doing the SAT stuff.