Steve Kerr, Pete Carroll share coaching tips to raise coronavirus awareness

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“Pete, here we go,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr begins the first episode of his podcast with Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. “Let’s talk about why we’re here.”

To raise money for COVID-19 relief, long-time friends Kerr and Carroll began the “Flying Coach” podcast about coaching championship-level teams in the NBA and NFL in conjunction with Spotify, which contributed $100,000 to the Warriors Community Foundation.

“We knew that this kind of podcast didn’t exist,” Kerr said. “So we wanted to do it not only as a charitable endeavor, but also a way to share our message with listeners and young coaches.”

In honor of National Teacher Appreciation Day, the Warriors and Hewlett Packard Enterprise on Tuesday will donate a total of $250,000 to be used to purchase more than 650 laptops to aid Bay Area children as they are forced to learn from home while schools are shut down during the coronavirus pandemic.

For Kerr, it was an opportunity to use his experience behind a mic to generate money to help those in need. Before he was the three-time champion head coach of the Warriors, Kerr’s resume included eight years as a broadcaster for Turner.

Inspired by former University of Kentucky standout and NBA player Rex Chapman, who asked his nearly 700,000 followers on Twitter to help a food bank in Kentucky, Kerr and Carroll discussed starting a podcast in order to drive money for their own local causes.

That’s when Kerr called Bill Simmons, the famous sportswriter and podcast host whose company, The Ringer, had recently been purchased by Spotify for a reported $196 million. Simmons agreed to help get the podcast off the ground by hosting it on his site, providing a remote producer and sending Kerr and Carroll equipment that includes a microphone and a high-end voice recorder.

Once a week, Kerr and Carroll get on an hour-long video call and talk about topics ranging from how to establish a team’s culture, preparing for a draft and learning from losses in the NBA Finals and Super Bowl. They’ve also interviewed New York Times’ best-selling author Dr. Brene Brown, and plan to talk with Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts soon. With three episodes already recorded, they plan to do a total of 10 before deciding if they want to continue.

Still, the temporary and charitable nature of the podcast hasn’t hindered Kerr’s competitiveness. Kerr listens to each episode after it’s published to critique himself. In doing so, he’s stumbled on some helpful notes of his own. Impressed with Carroll’s coaching style since his days at USC, Kerr often picks up tips from his co-host, something that dates back to 2014, when Kerr visited Carroll and his team in Seattle as he prepared to take over the Warriors.

“I’ve found that by going back and listening, I’m not only trying to figure out ways to be better at the actual podcast, but I’m writing down notes for things that I think of for the Warriors and how I want to coach the team,” Kerr said. “So it’s actually been a fun project, but also a productive one in terms of preparing for next season.”

While Kerr and Carroll face the indefinite postponement of their sports, California officials have already announced that schools will be unable to reopen this school year due to coronavirus pandemic conditions. On April 1, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said the state is committed to distance learning for the remainder of the school year.

For low-income families, the ramifications of school shutdowns are wide, impacting sources of health care, food and continuing education. With classrooms closed, children need access to a computer to communicate with their teachers and advance to the next grade.

“We still have thousands of students who are unable to fully access their education because of a lack of technology,” said Oakland Unified School District Communications Director John Sasaki. “These funds will go a long way to providing our students the access that everyone deserves.”

Kerr acknowledges he wouldn’t be able to do this in the midst of a season, but with the NBA on hiatus and the NFL season yet to start, the podcast provides a means to give back while also furthering his own coaching education.

“We’ve got the time,” Kerr said. “And we can raise awareness, raise money and have some fun.”


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