Coach Pope on fear, taking-risks

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Jeanette Blain | News Editor | [email protected]

Mark Pope said risk is necessary for growth in life.

As head coach of men’s basketball at UVU, Pope told an audience in the Grande Ballroom Nov. 4 how to get out of their comfort zone and become extraordinary.

He said there is a “gravity of average.” Gravity is a frustrating force for athletes, it makes people average.

“Average wants us all to do things the same way,” he said. “It wants us to do our schoolwork the same way. It wants us to plan our day the same way. It wants us to dream the same way. It just pulls us down so we can live our lives exactly as our roommate does… and the average people in the world do.”

He advised the audience to not do things just because they seem safe. If someone goes through their day and it was relatively comfortable on a regular basis, that person may not be doing as much as they could have done.

He said it’s important to take risks, because taking risks means growing.

“Put yourself in uncomfortable positions enough that being uncomfortable becomes comfortable,” he said.

Pope played for the NBA before becoming a coach. He was hired away from BYU to become head basketball coach at UVU in March 2015.

He said that he could have stayed at BYU and coached under Coach Rose for the next 700 years. It was safe, secure and comfortable, and he knew the team would win. But, he made the choice to step out of his comfort zone and come to UVU.

“What was exciting to me about coming here…is that here you and I have a chance to do something really extraordinary, to get way out of our comfort zone,” Pope said. “That is really inspiring.”

This school has the ability and the courage to innovate he said. UVU is willing to take risks to do something better and rewrite how the game of education is played or the game of basketball is played.

Pope said that getting outside of the comfort zone is scary, but everyone is scared. He said even people like Reggie Miller and Michael Jordan have moments of fear.

“All these guys have some fear, and I got to see it firsthand,” he said.

Pope said it is important to be fully committed.

To illustrate what he meant by committing fully, Pope shared a story about Frank Vogel. Vogel played junior college basketball in New Jersey, but he wanted to be a coach. It looked like there was no chance of him becoming a coach, but he was determined to try. Vogel called a team in Kentucky and asked if he could become a manager. They said no. Undeterred, he withdrew from school and drove to Kentucky. Vogel was told again that he couldn’t start as a manager, but he wouldn’t leave until he got his chance. Pope said Vogel was living in his car for a week before the coach gave him a chance.

Pope closed his speech by advising the audience to take every chance they can to get out of their comfort zone.

“That’s how you know you’re growing and that’s how you know you’re getting a chance to do something special,” he said.