Hello, my name is BJ Windhorst and I am the Vice President of the Chad Carden Group. Tim wanted me to share my story with you…
The largest part of my existence since a young age has been sports, and sports of all kinds. Primarily it was baseball as my Grandpa was a head college coach for nearly 40 years! I spent nearly every summer night as a child at the park in the dugout watching his teams. It was there where I learned many of my life lessons and the fundamentals of hard work, accountability, and doing things a certain way – the right way. I also learned at a young age that doing things the right way was hard, but that’s what separated people who achieved in the world and those who didn’t.
I cannot imagine my life without that upbringing or the guidance of my Grandpa who passed away this past year. Although baseball was my family’s pastime, I grew to love football and particularly basketball. The truth is, starting at about age 10, I lived to stay up late during the winter to watch the ESPN college basketball games. It was those nights in my room all by myself when I would dream of being a college player for one of those colleges and playing in front of thousands of crazed college fans! After two years as an All-American at Iowa Western CC, I realized that dream by playing at Drake University from 1994-96, becoming an All-Conference player both years, and breaking the school’s all-time 3-point goal record in just two years! Most notable of my college games was a 35-point game performance against The University of San Diego on December 28, 1994 (I’ll never forget the date!). I caught fire and scored 33 second-half points, including the final 26 points of the game that finished in a free throw with 1.2 seconds remaining to win the game 99-98! I still have people come up to me to this day and say, “I was there when you scored all those points in a row that one night!” It’s pretty cool!
After college and sports were over, it was quite an adjustment figuring out how to deal with the competitive spirit. What do I do? For me, getting into coaching was the next best thing. I found out right away it was something I was meant to do. Over a twelve year period, I had many successful teams and capped off with a state championship appearance in 2010 where we lost in a competitive game to a stacked team led by current college player-of-the-year candidates, Harrison Barnes of North Carolina (Lottery Pick in the 2012 NBA Draft) and Doug McDermott of Creighton. Their team had all five of their starters go on to play college basketball. We had one. It was the most fulfilling experience of my life watching a group of kids come together for a common cause and do things that no one could have ever imagined. It became clearly evident to me during that time how powerful the human spirit really is as I watched it manifest in my players. I was humbled to be called the leader of such an experience. Unfortunately during that time I was also becoming run down by the grind of teaching and dealing with the politics of public education. I felt unappreciated and I began to let it get to me. I was at a crossroads in my professional career compounded by the arrival of my first child, my son, Drake.
During this time of doubt about my situation, I reconnected with a childhood friend, Chad Carden, who I knew had his own successful consulting business. I became intrigued with what he was doing, and he was 100% excited about the prospect of me coming to work with him. After several months of self-evaluation, I knew it was time for a change. I didn’t like who I was becoming professionally. For the first time in my educational career I had started to feel undervalued and underappreciated and I was not handling it well personally or professionally…but was I really going to give up coaching? Was I going to be able to give up the one thing in this world that I knew I was good at to go into the unknown? Fortunately with the support of my family, and my trust in Chad, my friend, I took the leap!
My resignation as a coach was headline news and it took many people by surprise. Many people had a lot of questions about why I would quit coaching at the top of my game and leave a stable income of a teacher? At the end of the day it came down to being happy and having the opportunity to put my family and myself somewhere in a few years financially that I never could have imagined. I wasn’t happy anymore. I felt what I had to offer the world would be more appreciated with the opportunity I was presented.
Things happen for a reason, and so far I couldn’t be more happy with my decision. Not only am I excited about what I’m doing, being around the people that I’ve been able to surround myself with through working with Chad has made me a better person in so many ways. It’s made me realize even more clearly than before where I was headed, and it wasn’t good.
I don’t believe my coaching days are over, but I’m not sure either how that will play out. I do know that if I went back to coaching now with what I have learned about people and getting out of my comfort zone that I would be an even better coach now then I ever was before!! Kind of exciting! I feel like the sky is the limit on what’s happening right now in my professional career, thus the rest of my life seems to be that much better!
Written by BJ Windhorst, Vice President of the Chad Carden Group