Coach Spotlight: Alaska Anchorage's Rusty Osborne
Rusty Osborne is in his 26th season at Alaska Anchorage and his 13th as head coach. He has led UAA to winning records in each of his first 12 seasons as head coach.
Rusty Osborne is in his 26th season at Alaska Anchorage and his 13th as head coach. He has led UAA to winning records in each of his first 12 seasons as head coach.
Rusty Osborne
Rusty Osborne

Friday, January 5, 2018

Part of a regular series.

Throughout the year, uses this space to profile conference student-athletes, coaches, and administrators. Collectively, it is these individuals who make the GNAC one of the top NCAA Division II athletic conferences in the nation.

Name: Rusty Osborne
Sport: Men’s Basketball
School: Alaska Anchorage
Houston, Texas

Colleges Attended & Degrees: University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Eastern New Mexico University, University of Texas (Undergraduate, Physical Education), Southwest Texas State University (Graduate, Educational Administration)

Why Did You Become A Coach: I chose to coach because I knew that it was something that I would always enjoy. I never wanted to wake up in the morning and dread going to work. In addition, it gave me the chance to have an impact on the lives of the young men I coach and help them grow into productive adults and citizens.

Who Has Influenced You The Most As A Coach - Either As An Inspiration, A Mentor, Or Philosophically: There were really two coaches who gave me my start. Danny Evans was the Head Coach at Hyde Park Baptist High School in Austin, Texas. He was also a University of Texas graduate and just a few years older. During my senior year of college, Danny brought me on as an assistant coach. We had a great relationship and he gave me a lot of freedom to find myself as a coach. In addition, we had a great experience winning our final 26 games and a state championship in the private/parochial school division.

Danny was also the one who introduced me to Harry Larrabee. Harry gave me my first job as a Volunteer at Southwest Texas State. I worked at SWT for three years and then followed Harry to Alaska when he returned in 1991. Most of my adult life, not only coaching, has been touched by Harry. I still use many of the same defenses, offenses and drills I learned from Harry even if we have had to make some adaptations for the current game. The things we stress and the culture of the program have been influenced greatly by Harry's philosophies as well. Finally, if not for Harry bringing me to Alaska, I never would have met my wife nor had our five children. Most of what I have accomplished in coaching can be traced back to the influence of these two outstanding coaches.

Biggest Obstacle Overcome As A Coach: I don't think there is ever just one big obstacle. Obstacles are fluid and change from year to year and from team to team. Not being too rigid toward one way of doing things is huge. You have to be willing to identify the obstacles and then make adjustments in your program without sacrificing the culture, and ideals of the program. With experience, you find out that sometimes you can be your own biggest obstacle if you are not willing to be flexible.

What Does Division II Mean To You: I believe that Division II is a wonderful level to be associated with as a coach, administrator or athlete. You are able to be around high-level athletes but in a very balanced environment. We have athletes who will be professionals, and we have enthusiastic supporters, but nothing gets out of whack. The expectations for excellence in athletics are there but not at the expense of excellence in academics, community service, or social growth. The student-athlete is able to live a balanced life as are the coaches.

Extracurricular Activities: Most of my extracurricular activities involve supporting my wife and five children. We have five very active kids and supporting their activities is important and enjoyable. I do play golf when possible and my wife and I enjoy hiking whenever we get the chance.

Best Advice You’d Give To Student-Athletes: Nothing beats hard work and if you want to improve in any aspect of your life during your time on campus, you must be willing to put yourself in an "uncomfortable state." If you are comfortable you won't be improving whether that be in your sport or your academics. Be willing to challenge yourself constantly.

If You Could Spend The Day With One Person (Past Or Present), Who Would It Be (And Why): My father. I lost my father when I was just 10 years old and would love to be able to visit with him as an adult and learn more about his life and share with him his daughter-in-law and grandkids.

Favorite Sports Team: Houston Astros, Texas Longhorns and Alaska Anchorage Seawolves.

Favorite Athlete: That would be a tie between Kevin Durant and Jose Altuve. They both do extraordinary things on opposite ends of the size spectrum.

Most Memorable Sports-Related Moment: Probably our upset of Wake Forest on ESPN in the Great Alaska Shootout. They were debuting a young freshman who went scoreless and fouled out but did bounce back and has a pretty good career: Tim Duncan. The team was not only able to beat an ACC program but did it without head coach Harry Larrabee, who had been hospitalized the previous weekend. That was a special moment to win the game for Harry, who loved nothing more than surprising the Power 5 schools in the Shootout!