Q & A With Kim Hairston
Kim Hairston was named an assistant women’s basketball coach at UVa in May 2011. A native of Bassett, Va., Hairston has been a member of head coach Joanne Boyle’s staffs at Richmond, California and now Virginia. Hairston checked in with VirginiaSports.com to give a glimpse into her first month on the job.
Question: What first appealed to you about a job opportunity at Virginia?
Hairston: There were a couple of things. I’m from Virginia, so to be able to come home and represent the state that I’m from and that I’m very proud of is a privilege. Having previous experience with Joanne at Richmond and Cal, I knew her philosophy and things she was looking for in an assistant coach and I knew I had been successful in recruiting for her before.
Question: Being from Virginia, how good does it feel to return home?
Hairston: It’s great. It’s exciting. Being away from home, I actually haven’t lived in the state of Virginia since we left Richmond which was in 2004. From there I’ve been in California and Georgia. To come back and only be two and a half hours away from my family feels really good. To be able to spend time with my nephews and my mom is really exciting.
Question: This is your third time working for Joanne Boyle. Can you describe her philosophy and what you enjoy about working for her?
Hairston: Joanne allows you to grow as a coach. She doesn’t stand over you and hover and make sure you’re doing stuff. There’s a sense of comfort between us because she knows what I can do and I know what she wants. She allows you to grow and experience new things and she doesn’t pigeonhole you into things that you’re really comfortable with. She pushes me outside the box and makes me do things I’m not exactly comfortable with. Most people tend to fall back on their strengths and want to continue to improve their strengths, but not work on their weaknesses. She forces you to work on your weaknesses.
Question: Do you have a specific example of one of those moments?
Hairston: Obviously my comfort level is in recruiting. That’s what I love to do. I’m a people person and I love relationships and I love being able to meet new people and learn their life story because everybody has a story behind them. I find it very fun and interesting. So I’m comfortable recruiting, but that is not all I am, I need to contribute in a lot of other ways as well.
Question: Can you describe your coaching style?
Hairston: I’m a players’ coach. Very relationship-type person. For me it’s about developing relationships with the kids and getting to know them and letting them know that it’s more than just about winning to me. It’s about helping them achieve whatever goal they have set for themselves. My door is always open, my phone is always going to be on and whenever they need me I’m going to always be there for them.
Question: What have you learned about your new team in the last few weeks?
Hairston: They’re eager and hungry to learn and get better. Thus far they have been very receptive to the change and to the new staff which is always a good thing. When you come in and take over a program it’s kind of scary to wonder if they will accept and buy into what we are trying to get across to them.
Question: Who or what have been the biggest contributors to your career?
Hairston: My mom. Throughout my whole career my mom has been supportive. She has given me what I need to be successful but never forced it on me. She’s been that way throughout my whole career, even when it was time for me to leave Richmond and go all the way to California. If I would have seen any resentment or any doubt from her I probably would not have done that, but she was like ‘you’re young, go see the world and do things that I didn’t get to do.’ To have her support has been huge. From a coaching standpoint, Kenny Brooks at James Madison and I really went through a lot together when he took over that program. He really helped me grow as a coach at a young age and he let me make some of the decisions. I really felt like that was a stepping point of my career where I really felt like I grew a lot as a coach.
Question: What are some of your short and long-term goals?
Hairston: With these kids, one of the goals is to build confidence. We have a lot of good pieces here and we have a lot of good things that we can work with. Just building that confidence and letting them know that they can be successful is our first goal with this team.
Question: Can you describe the staff as a whole?
Hairston: I was here two weeks by myself so when Katie and Cory came along it has been great to have the whole staff completed. We are able to put all of our personalities and strengths together to help build this program. Your first year is always tough, we came in at a crazy time in recruiting. It’s been good but it’s been a challenge at the same time.
Question: What types of players are you looking for to recruit to Virginia?
Hairston: Virginia is the No. 2 public institution in the country so it’s going to take a kid that is serious about their academics. They have to be motivated to do well in the classroom to be successful here. At the same time, we want great players and great people that want to win championships. We want players who want to be successful both on and off the court, because that is who we are as coaches. If that’s not goals you have set for yourself, then Virginia is not the place for you.