First person: Life coach

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Earl Diddle, 58, began his basketball coaching career at age 23.

Earl Diddle loves traveling, unless it happens on the basketball court. Diddle began his lifelong career in basketball before he can remember. He took his first coaching job as head coach in his hometown of East Liverpool, Ohio, at the age of 23, coached men’s basketball at Eastern New Mexico University for 10 years and coaches basketball to this day.

ENMU: I coached at ENMU from 1988 to 1998. I really enjoyed it. It was a wonderful school with wonderful people.

Being 23 and a head coach: It was really difficult. It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done to go back to my hometown and coach high school basketball. Fortunately, I was very successful. I was with a teacher who taught me so I never felt equal. Getting cooperation from older coaches that I was in charge of was difficult. I was not quite equipped to handle it.

Play or coach: I prefer to play but I’m too old now. I tell my students I do the second best thing, coaching. Every day I go to my dream job. Not too many older coaches are still coaches. I’m a career coach. I always knew it. I’m a coach’s coach.

Young students: I enjoy coaching younger kids. It stimulates my mind. I pride myself on being a good teacher of the game. I like to teach young players how to play. It’s the most rewarding. I could care less about the wins and losses. I like the process of getting players better and teams better.

Off the court traveling: I have three daughters and I like to visit them. Two live in New York City and one lives in Boston.

Keeping connected: I like talking to ex-players. I’ve been in it long enough now to have players with children. I like to know what they’re doing, how they’re progressing. They all have questions on how to get their kids better at basketball. If you stay in it long enough, the people who you have touched, they realize you helped them and they call and want to talk about the things you thought they missed.

Suite life: I grew up in a three-story hotel. By the age of 8 I had a Ph.D. in life. I’ve seen a lot of stuff, the good and bad of it. At the hotel, I found my passion, hope and drive. Where there was none, I found it. Sometimes you don’t have to look further than your front door.

Women vs. men: I have been coaching the women’s basketball team at Howard College in Big Spring, Texas, for six years. The biggest difference between coaching men and women is that women are not men. That’s the biggest difference, but it’s not a bad thing. Women have to feel good to play good, men play good to feel good. There are a lot of dynamics with women; emotions, relationships. But I’ve never thought of teaching men again. I’m a better coach now. I’m a better presenter, more patient, a better teacher, better coach for it.

— Compiled by CNJ staff writer Liliana Castillo