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YUHSD hosts families, athletes and coaches for developmental session with Kevin Eastman

As a way to launch the 2019-20 athletic season, longtime NBA Assistant Coach Kevin Eastman spent nearly four hours Tuesday, Aug. 6, speaking to more than 60 Yuma Union High School District coaches and upwards of 100 families at Kofa High School’s Auditorium. Kevin Eastman Kneeling

Eastman’s presentation, which was open to all Yuma-area families during the evening session, included professional development for coaches and powerful lessons about how to compete and perform as a positive teammate for athletes.

“I think it’s just natural to try and give back,” said Eastman, who also spoke at the February 2018 professional development day for YUHSD. “I love coming out here. For me, when you have an opportunity to be around good people, who are trying to do the right thing for those that they lead and trying to do the right thing for the coaches and the athletes and the families in the area, you jump at it.”

Throughout the night, he shared stories of his time as Washington State University’s head basketball coach, how he parented his son, Jake, and time in the NBA, such as the 2008 Boston Celtics’ success, which included how the team adopted the Ubuntu philosophy from the Nguni Bantu tribe in South Africa that implores humanity: “people are people because of other people.”

Both the coaching session and the parent and athlete session included a question-and-answer portion and meet-and-greet at the conclusion.

“Mr. Eastman was, once again, phenomenal in his presentation to all of our district coaches,” said Gila Ridge High School’s James Kuzniak, who coaches boys golf and baseball. “Hearing first-hand from someone as successful as Mr. Eastman and at various levels will definitely help all of us in our own personal careers. And more importantly will help us have an even greater positive and lasting impact on our student-athletes.”

For more than a decade, Eastman served as an assistant coach to Doc Rivers with the Celtics and Clippers before transitioning into the Clippers’ front office in 2015 and now speaking full-time. He was one of the lead assistants on the 2008 Celtics title team that defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in six games and coached in the NBA Finals two years later. In 2018, Eastman released his first book, “Why the Best are the Best: 25 Powerful Words that Impact and Define Champions,” which draws from his more than 40 years in athletics.

The coaching portion of the evening was the second in a series of professional development opportunities offered to coaches by YUHSD. In May, the district hosted Positive Coaching Alliance, a group that Rivers and Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr are affiliated, for a four-hour session.

“Coaching is the best profession in the world,” Eastman said. “One of the neatest things about coaching is helping kids do things they never thought they could do.”

YUHSD football programs began practicing in late July with official practices opening for all other fall sports on Monday, Aug. 12.

Eric Patten