March 7, 2007
A vital piece of the support staff that keeps the Husky program among the best in the nation is director of basketball operations Lance LaVetter. A 1992 graduate of the Northern Arizona with a degree in education and social sciences, the Tucson, Ariz. native has been a member of the head coach Lorenzo Romar's staff for the past eight seasons.
GoHuskies.com managed to catch-up with LaVetter at a pregame practice session prior to the 2007 Pac-10 Tournament and talked about his role with the UW basketball program.
GoHuskies: Thanks for taking the time to visit with GoHuskies.com today. Can you tell us a little about your background?
LaVetter: "I was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona. I come from a coaching family. My father (Roland) was a high school coach for 30-plus years in Tucscon. And, my uncle (Chuck) was a junior college coach for 36 years. So, I kind of grew up being a coach's son. After high school I played two years of junior college basketball at Pima Junior College. Then, I went to Northern Arizona where I played one year for the Lumberjacks.
"When I was done playing, I knew that I wanted to get into coaching. I became a teacher and high school softball and basketball coach. I was lucky enough to catch on at New Mexico State University around 1995 where I worked for Neil McCarthy. After that, I worked for two years for Jim Sollars with the women's basketball program at the University of Portland. Eight years ago, I went to Saint Louis to work for Coach Romar and we've been together ever since."
GoHuskies: Can you describe the job that you do as the director of basketball operations at Washington?
LaVetter: "I do a really wide variety of things for the basketball program here at Washington. I take care of our summer camps. I handle team travel and our staff and player tickets on the road. I handle all the inquiries and requests that come into the office either through email or the regular mail. I help with fund-raising and development. I usually answer that question by telling people that everything that happens in our program, I have some degree of a hand in it. This job keeps you really busy. There really isn't a down time for me because college basketball is a 12-month business. There is always something coming up. For example, right now we are in the middle of the Pac-10 Tournament and preparing for the chance we will be in postseason. On top of that, I am trying to prepare for our summer camps going."
GoHuskies: What is the most challenging thing about your job?
LaVetter: "I think the most challenging thing about my job is simply trying to get back with people in a timely manner. There is so much going on that it is hard to keep up with the calls into our office. Our primary focus is the team and what must take place for our program to operate. But, at the same time we have a lot of people who have questions or are looking for information and it is hard to get back with them. I would also say that it is a challenge to keep things organized when we are on the road. It seems that our schedule is always changing, particularly when we are on the road. People are hard to get in contact with at times and sometimes we make changes to our plans based on what is happening at the time. So, sometimes that can be very stressful."
GoHuskies: What do you like most about your job?
LaVetter: "I really like the young people. Coming from a family of educators, it has always been about them. I love being on the road and hanging out with the players. Just being able to listen and talk to them is something I really enjoy. I also love being around our staff. I've been with Lorenzo and Cameron for eight years. That's a long time in this business. That just shows the camaraderie that we have. We all get along and it makes going to work everyday fun."
GoHuskies: How about Washington? What do you like most about the UW?
LaVetter: "You know what I love about Washington? I have been in a lot of athletic departments and, when I got here my thinking was that it was going to be so big and not very tight knit. I've worked in some smaller athletic programs so I thought that being in a `big time' athletic department would be somewhat impersonal. That is just not the case. I've been amazed at how personal and close-knit things are here at Washington. Everyone pulls for one another and is genuinely happy with how each team, athlete and coach performs. We all work together and are close and I love that about Washington. I also love Seattle. I worked in Portland for two years and liked that too. But, I really love Seattle. People think I'm crazy because I come from the Southwest with all the sun and warm weather. I think the stories about all the rain is mainly a bunch of hype. The summers are gorgeous here."
GoHuskies: What is it about Coach Romar that draws you to want to have worked with him for so long?
LaVetter: "He is very genuine. What you see is what you get. There is no different Lorenzo based on what situation you are in. For example, there is no one Lorenzo to a recruit, then another Lorenzo behind closed doors. He is consistent and just a great person. I love listening to his stories about growing up, playing basketball, playing in the NBA. He is so easy to get along with."
GoHuskies: Who is the most interesting member of the basketball staff?
LaVetter: "Jim Shaw, without a doubt. He has a good heart but is all over the place. He and Nate Robinson are quite the pair. They both have so much energy and all over the map. It keeps things fun and light-hearted."
GoHuskies: What about among the players?
LaVetter: "Definitely Spencer Hawes. Just because I think he is extremely bright and we have some great political debates. He is so off to the right and I'm on the left. So, we have some really fun conversations."