Kim Anderson At Home

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            When Kim Anderson was announced as the new head coach for Mizzou men’s basketball, much was made of the fact that this “True Son” was coming home. Even Anderson has emphasized how much his Mizzou homecoming means to him. “I grew up in Missouri,” he said in an Inside Columbia interview, “and this is the ultimate coaching job for me. It’s not Kentucky, Duke or Kansas — it’s here.”

Yet in this essay, Anderson shares that no place — not even his beloved alma mater — would feel much like home without his family there to share it with him.

 

In a way, the Anderson family is different from most others. My wife, Melissa, and I have spent the past 37 years of our marriage traveling, raising our two similarly sports-minded sons and focusing our lives on pursuing my goals. Our journey has looked pretty different from that of the “traditional” family’s, but then again, what lies underneath all of the packed-up boxes, tough decisions and hard-won victories is something that’s found in any other successful family unit: solid relationships.

My family has been both the reason for my successes and also what’s made them worthwhile.

The importance of having a partner who’s 100 percent in your corner cannot be overstated. Since we met at Mizzou, Melissa has been my No. 1 supporter. We started dating as juniors, and we were married shortly after graduation. From the moment we said “I do,” she’s been there. She’s made countless sacrifices for my career and adapted with a smile on her face — I’ve moved her to Portland, Italy, France, Texas and back to Missouri, but somehow, she’s still all in. Although we’ve made these moves in pursuit of my dreams, at the end of the day, our family and the life we’ve built together always take precedence over whatever’s happening on the court.

Just like a basketball team, keeping a firm foundation and continuing to strengthen relationships isn’t easy. It takes work. Call it training, if you will. It’s been encouraging to have sons who are supportive and understanding throughout my career — coaching a college basketball team is an extremely time-consuming and demanding profession, and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t missed out on anything in my kids’ lives because of work. I’m not perfect, but it’s about putting in the effort.

As the four of us have grown together, we’ve all gained a better understanding of one another’s lives. Over the past seven years or so, I’ve made more of an effort to leave basketball matters in the arena so I can come home and be an active member of our family.

On the other side of that, my sons are both involved in college athletics now, so they have a new appreciation for the challenges involved in balancing a career in college athletics with a well-rounded personal life. Ryan, 25, is an athletic media relations assistant at North Dakota State University, and Brett, 23, works for me as a graduate assistant while he’s pursuing his master’s degree at Mizzou. It’s special for me to get to work with Brett because it’s an opportunity to make up for time that we lost together during especially draining seasons of coaching. And it’s fun for me to watch him — he’s got a sharp basketball mind, and he brings a lot to the table. Ryan also worked with me as an athletic media relations graduate assistant at Central Missouri, where I was the head coach for 12 years.

Athletics goes beyond our jobs, though. Sports, including basketball, are how we connect to one another and how we relate. Even Melissa, who was almost exclusively a football fan when we met, has a great time watching Royals games, being a Sporting KC fan and cheering on the Chiefs. A love for athletics is a common thread among all of us, and it keeps us tied together.

As much as sports are both a respite for us and a “family business,” there are times when we just need to get away from all of the pandemonium. We retreat to the Lake to reconnect, revitalize our relationship, and set aside time to strengthen our bonds. It’s important to step back from the chaos of life sometimes in order to keep things in perspective — no matter what’s happening at work, family is what matters, whether you’re an accountant, a teacher, or a college basketball coach.

Sometimes it’s just me and Melissa, too — she’s been an essential part of my career, so she needs a break as much as anyone. From my professional playing career to coaching, she’s stepped up for anything that needs to be done. Sometimes that’s a bit of advice or just letting me have some space. She’s even been known to bake cookies for my players on occasion or host them at our home. What makes our marriage work is that we’re a team, and like teammates, our relationship is built on mutual respect, trust and love.

Here at Mizzou, I have my dream job. But not only would I not have made it here without having solid relationships with my wife and my kids — it wouldn’t mean as much. What’s an NCAA Division II championship without a loving family to share it with? Yes, coaching and playing basketball has been my lifelong passion. But the Anderson family as a whole is what counts when the arena lights go off.

 

 

Kim Anderson Stats

Born: May 12, 1955

Hometown: Sedalia

College: University of Missouri (1973–1977)

NBA Draft: Selected in 1977 by Portland Trail Blazers in Round 2 as 28th overall pick

Pro Career: 1977–1982

Position: Forward

Coaching History:

1982–1985: University of Missouri (assistant)

1985–1991: Baylor (assistant)

1991–1999: University of Missouri (assistant)

2003-2014: Central Missouri (head)

2014-present: University of Missouri (head)

Career Highlights And Awards:

Big Eight co-Player of the Year (1977)

2x MIAA* Coach of the Year (2005, 2010)

NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year (2014)

NCAA Division II National Championship (2014)

4x MIAA regular season champions (2005, 2007, 2010, 2014)

2x MIAA conference tournament champions (2009, 2014)

University of Missouri Athletics Hall of Fame (1999)

Missouri Sports Hall of Fame as a student-athlete (2005)

Missouri Sports Hall of Fame as a coach (2012)

 

*Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association

 

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