Gatepost Interview: Bill Raynor, Men’s Basketball Coach
By Bailey Morrison
What is your educational and professional background?
I am a graduate of Dartmouth College and I have a master’s degree from Antioch in education. I have been in education my entire professional life. I started teaching and coaching in high school and moved on to coach at Harvard University. Then I went to Brown University before being at MassBay for the last 13 years. I was the athletic director and the head basketball coach for 12 years. For the last year, I served as the special assistant to the president and chief diversity officer.
What are you looking forward to in coaching the men’s basketball team at FSU?
I’m excited to be at Framingham State. MassBay has a Wellesley campus and a Framingham campus and over the past three or four years, the two colleges have done a number of collaborations with various programs, and so I’ve always looked at this as a jewel, as an opportunity. So, I was happy that it was open and happy that they selected me, and I look forward to hopefully being able to be successful here. I love everything about coaching. I think coaching is one of the great professions in the world. You get an opportunity to interact with young people. You get to interact with them for years. You get to watch them mature and grow. You watch young men become men. I love the sense of competition that’s involved, the various life lessons that hopefully you can impart to your team that hopefully they can transfer to any discipline they decide to pursue.
What is the most challenging aspect of coaching?
Every year, you are challenged by the diversity of your group. The key to coaching – and I tell coaches this – is finding the key that motivates each of your players. Each of them is diQerent. They come from different backgrounds, so they have different motivations. You have to take care in identifying what is important to them. How do you motivate them? How do you help them reach their goals?
You were inducted into the Brown University Hall of Fame and the New England Basketball Hall of Fame. What did those honors mean to you?
And the Catholic Memorial Hall of Fame – let’s not forget about them! That’s where I started. But really, when somebody recognizes you for your career and what you accomplish, it’s always a very humbling experience to think that others thought something that you did was worthy of being recognized in that way. Most of us do this for the love of the game. You’re not doing this to receive any type of award or anything. When somebody bestows that upon you, it’s a very humbling experience and I know well enough that you don’t achieve anything on your own. It’s really a combination of having great teammates and great coaches – and some ability, I guess.
You are certified in gender violence prevention and education. How do you think that translates to your job here and why is that training important?
Coaches are educators, and it’s not just about teaching your athletes about the intricacies of the sport – it’s about teaching them the intricacies of life. Gender violence has been a major issue in our country and around the world, and so hopefully being able to impart some of that knowledge and sensitivity and awareness is going to make my student athletes better people. On a similar note, I started a young men of color program 10 years ago, and last year, we started a young women of color program to help facilitate those students through the educational process and help them realize their educational goals and aspirations. That has been a very important program for me to be involved in. We give our students academic support, social support, moral support. We work with them and really for most of the
students, it’s not their intellectual capacity to do the work – it’s figuring out how to handle life and the things that life throws at them, whether it’s a death or some type of tragic accident that many of them find very difficult to handle their responsibilities academically, as well as their responsibilities to their family or life. The statistics show that especially young men of color are decreasing in attendance of institutions of higher learning, and so, we thought that hopefully this would be a step in addressing that issue.
What benefits are there to participating in collegiate-level athletics as a student?
It’s lifelong lessons – you learn about working with others. You learn about sacrifice. You learn about leadership. You learn about competition. Not many teams go undefeated, so you learn about how to lose and how to bounce back. In life, we all end up being rejected or losing more times than just in college – whether it’s the girl we wanted said no, or that job we wanted went to someone else. If you can’t learn about that, about losing, then you’re going to have a long, unpleasant existence.
What is something about you that would surprise your athletes?
I’ve written two books of poetry. One book is just about sports called “Poetry in Motion: the meaning of sports in everyday life.” ... Which are really just life lessons – learning how to be a good teammate. ... Learning how to sacrifice and give up a part of yourself for the greater good of others. Those are all addressed in my writing. ... The other book is called “Reflections,” and that one is more of a personal book – poems about my daughter and my views on life and different things I’ve experienced. Oh, and I play the flute!
What advice would you give to students?
Persevere. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Do not be deterred. Pursue your goals. Take advantage of this time in your life because it is a unique set of years that before you think you’ll be out of school and life happens and life changes. It’s a little bit different than having the opportunity you have today. So, enjoy your moment. ... I would like for the Framingham State student body as well as the faculty and staff to come out and support the men’s basketball team this year. I think they will enjoy watching our brand of ball and we will be a much better team if we’ve got people in the seats.