Ken Niumatalolo's advice to young coaches looking to move up in their careers

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Tuesday May 23, 2017


Ken Niumatalolo has been at Navy since 2002, plus a stint from 1995-98. His biggest piece of advice on a career is to focus on your current job more than any other.

The coach recently joined USA Football’s Coach and Coordinator podcast for a wide-ranging conversation, and he was asked his advice to other coaches about jobs. 

“Don’t worry about other jobs,” he said. “Just worry about the job you have do the best you can at that.”

What about young coaches who are looking to move up from a low position? Networking plays a huge role, and you can make your goals and intentions known. But more than anything, you have to do your job well.

“If your aspiration is to move on and find other jobs, it’s not bad to write people you know, let them your intentions,” Niumatalolo said. “But the biggest thing I know with guys moving is to work hard, be a good person. Word spreads around when you’re trying to look for somebody (to hire). Coaches talk.

“‘Do you know an outside linebackers coach?’ Yeah, I know this kid, a graduate assistant, he works his butt off, I’ve been impressed with him. That’s all you can do, do the best you can. Work hard. Eventually, somebody will notice. Either somebody you’re working against or somebody you’re working with. Somebody you’re with gets a head job, and ‘I’m going to take you with me. I’ve watched the way you work. I’d love to take you.’ That’s the biggest thing. Do the best you can to work hard.”

But you don’t always need to work for the next job. Again, Niumatalolo’s been Navy’s head coach since 2007, and while there’s been interest with other jobs, it’s important to also be happy where you are.

He’s come across coaches he thought could succeed at higher levels, but they had what they wanted. It comes down to what each coach wants out of the job.

“I’ve been in this a long time. You’ll see guys at different places, and you see some guy in high school, and he’s a way better coach than anybody I’ve ever seen, and he’s at this level,” Niumatalolo said. “Maybe he doesn’t care about going to the next level. Probably very content at high school, which is totally fine, if that’s what you want to do. Maybe see your family more, which I totally understand.”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.