Phone Calls and Meetings and Interviews, Oh My
May 21, 2015
At approximately 9:30 a.m. on Monday morning, Eric Konkol stepped foot into his new office as head coach of Bulldog Basketball for the first time.
Scanning the place that is now home, he immediately visualized the type of meetings that would occur in this room - where a player would sit on the leather couch, how he would be situated behind his desk.
Something else he took notice of, and not in a good way, was the self-closing door.
"I like it open until it needs to be shut," Konkol said. "I would rather it be open."
Before a door stopper could be tracked down, Konkol had a lot more on his plate starting with a press conference an hour later in the Waggonner Room of the Thomas Assembly Center where Louisiana Tech Athletics Director Tommy McClelland would formally introduce him to media members, fans and support staff as the 18th head coach in program history.
"I was attracted to this place because of all the wonderful things I had heard about the people and the leadership of Dr. Guice and Tommy McClelland," Konkol said while at the podium.
He went on to give an example of the friendliness he had already experienced. Just before heading into the Waggonner Room, he went to use the restroom and a gentleman asked him what his father's name was.
"I said George and he said well I served with a Konkol in the war and we started talking about the Konkol family."
Other stories were exchanged at the conclusion of the press conference. Fans came up to introduce themselves and vice versa. Konkol loved hearing about their stories and their connections to Louisiana Tech and how they became fans.
Once the room cleared and Konkol wrapped up talking to The News Star's Sean Isabella, he went onto Karl Malone Court to take family pictures with his wife Meagan and their two sons, Ethan and Ryan.
The two kids were already shooting hoops in the TAC for the first time with the basketball goals lowered for more fun. It was only appropriate that dad joined in.
The trio took turns doing their best Dunkin' Dog impression, loosening up the rim.
It was almost noon when Tommy and other support staff took coach Konkol to the heart of campus, the student center, to eat at the annual faculty luncheon.
"I had my first authentic sweet tea in a long time and it was really good," Konkol said. "And the peach cobbler was awesome. I got to meet a lot of people, spoke with members of the athletic council I saw earlier in the day and then came back to the office and spent a lot of time with our players."
Now 2:30 p.m., coach Konkol was in two places at one time - on the Paul Millsap Vision video board and sitting on a stool doing a "Talking Tech" video interview for the marketing department.
After wrapping up answering questions submitted by fans via social media and taking care of some more paperwork in the AD's office, coach took to the radio airwaves at 4 p.m. for the first time to talk about Louisiana Tech.
He had the pleasure of going on The Sports Company radio show. Ironically the Amherst, Wisconsin native got to speak with the show's co-host Santoria Black who is a fellow cheesehead himself, born in Beloit, Wisconsin.
After the interview it was straight to the iPhone to make calls. That lasted until about seven o'clock when coach left the office and met back up with his wife and kids. It was not long after that when he was back on the phone which lasted to the wee hours of the morning - 2 a.m. to be exact.
"The mophie is unbelievable," Konkol said about his juice pack battery case keeping his phone alive. "I have also tried to do some work to get back to people and make sure the former players at Miami are taken care of and if there are any loose ends I need to tie up.
"It has not gotten over 400 [messages], but it has gotten to 380 and then I got it under 300, but by the end of the next day it is back up to 380. I am not making too big of a dent."
With his mind spinning with excitement and thinking about a to-do list a mile long, sleep was tough to come by on Monday night.
Konkol arrived back at his office Tuesday morning ready to go back-to-back-to-back on radio shows starting at 8:15 a.m. to talk about a team that has won back-to-back-to-back conference regular season titles.
From then on the door was closed for much of the day with player meetings, starting with senior guard Alex Hamilton at 9 a.m. to talk about life, family, goals, etc.
"It is really the most fun thing, spending time with the players," Konkol said. "Part of the meeting was getting information about the people closest to our players - their parents, their choices, their mentors - and calling them to introduce myself. Some things you would like to accomplish right away but some things are not meant to be accomplished right away like building trust with your team."
After all of the players had their individual meetings, the headphones were back in place, writing on his yellow legal pad while making calls. The talks were to more potential assistant coaches and to people sharing his vision for someone's son or someone's nephew.
The headphones also meant avoiding a kink in the neck since the phone was not laid to rest until 2:30 a.m. all together. So much for getting more sleep on the second night since Konkol was back up at 6 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
Soon thereafter he was back at the office with the newest addition - not yet a family photo or a piece of memorabilia, but a rubber door stopper in its proper place between the bottom rail and the floor. With the door wide open and the office welcome to visitors, he continued to make a dent in putting together a staff and connecting with important people associated with the program like Speedy Smith.
One thing he was still not making too big of a dent in though - text messages - which after getting them under 300 were back up to 370.
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