John Peterson certainly knows his way around a basketball court. Having coached five different teams throughout his career, he has developed a deep connection and love for the game of basketball and the art of coaching. But how did Peterson become a 2000 NCAA Division 2 Champion and a 2015 Inductee to the California Community College Men’s Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame? If you ask him, the answer is quite simple.
After graduating from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a B.A. in Law and Society, Peterson attended the University of San Francisco in order to obtain his M.A. in Sport and Fitness Management. It was there, as a 21-year-old graduate student, that Peterson received his first coaching job. For five years Peterson served as an Assistant Coach and held responsible for recruiting, training, player development, and travel.
Peterson’s first season was certainly a learning experience. After suffering the largest losing margin of his career, a staggering 74 points, his team finished the season at a record of 1-26. He knew that his team could only go up from there and that the answer to their struggles was hard work. When Peterson spoke to the Bruin Sports Business Association (BSBA) he consistently preached the value of working hard.
“I am not one of those slogan guys,” Peterson said. “I don’t have a mantra. I am not going to put three words on the back of a t-shirt and make that my identity. I just show up and work until we have worked enough. We prepare for our game, we play the other team, and then we go back to the gym and work. When we win I will be happy for 20 minutes but then it is back to work. At the end of the day, you have to perform, compete, and keep your mindframe right.”
Peterson relocated to the Metropolitan State University of Denver after four more seasons with the University of San Francisco. It was in Denver that Peterson found more coaching success. With a three year record of 86-15, Peterson’s team was inducted into the Metro State Hall of Fame in 2010. Additionally, during his three years as the Assistant Coach, the team was the 1999 NCAA Division 2 National Runner Up and 2000 NCAA Division 2 National Champions.
Through hard work, Peterson was now a champion. However, hard work isn’t the only trait Peterson wants in a player. He also believes that you must find that motivation from within and be willing to sacrifice your humility to do whatever it takes to win.
“I love people with heart,” Peterson said. “You have a responsibility to compete and improve yourself. I want [to be surrounded by] people who are trying to improve themselves. Those are the types of people I loved coaching. It is really hard to make it in anything if you aren’t willing to do things that you don’t want to do. It’s part of the grind. I came in and cleaned the bathrooms and I scraped the gum off the floor. I wanted my staff to see me on my knees cleaning the bathrooms. The more that nothing is beneath you, the farther that you’re going to end up going.”
After becoming a national champion in 2000, Peterson took his coaching talents to Ohlone College and was named Head Coach. Over the next 14 years, Peterson filled the record books. He became the all-time leader in wins (300), win percentage (71%), conference titles (5), winning seasons (14), most wins in a season (28), and 20-win seasons (11). Another accomplishment of Peterson’s was that he was able to help 93 of his players, many of which felt like sons to him, move on to the four-year level.
Eventually, in 2014, Peterson became the Associate Coach of the Division 1 basketball team Loyola Marymount University (LMU). But after two years of coaching, Peterson found himself at a crossroads. He was considering leaving collegiate coaching in order to become the California Regional Manager of a company, Shoot 360. Ultimately, the decision came down to one thing.
“I was either going to rent my life or own my life,” Peterson said. “At the beginning of my coaching career, I was renting my life. Then I kind of owned my life at the junior college level, but I was still having to teach my classes. At LMU I definitely didn’t own my life. I made the decision that if I want to be financially successful, this is it. So I went for it. And if I fail I fail, but I would never have known if I never tried it. It is totally out of my comfort zone but I love every minute of it. I like chaos and disorder in my life. I am figuring this thing out on the fly and dealing with things that I have never dealt with in my life. And it really is all about the journey, it’s awesome.”
Shoot 360 is reimagining the future of basketball development through the use of interactive technology that trains and tracks athletes on their shooting, ball handling, and more. Since discovering Shoot 360, Peterson founded and serves as the CEO of California Basketball Group LLC which owns, operates, and manages Shoot 360 franchises. Peterson and the team have lofty goals of adding Shoot 360 locations nationwide and expanding into more college basketball training facilities.
Peterson doesn’t attribute his own success to himself. Instead, he wants all young adults, no matter their future career aspirations, to understand the importance of the people around you. Essentially, it can make or break who or what you become.
“You are only as good as the people who are around you,” Peterson said. “I had really good players and really good assistant coaches. The thing that matters most is who is in your locker room. If anyone, CEO, coach, whoever tells you that it’s all about them, that’s not true; it’s all about the people around them.”
Peterson urges all young adults to make the most of their connections and start building sincere relationships as soon as possible. Your network is fundamental to your success is the one takeaway that Peterson wants people to cement into their minds.
“You always need everyone you can get,” Peterson said. “And even if you don’t need those people, you can at least help them. Be a connector of people. Always pay it forward. Don’t have the mentality that you always need someone to do something for you. Be generous and your life becomes a lot simpler. It’s a healthy way to live [because it’s] better to have a network that’s an inch wide and a mile deep than it is to have one that’s a mile wide and only an inch deep.”