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Scheyer, Lawson discuss own values, ethics, give advice to students

Tuesday, Duke men’s basketball head coach Jon Scheyer and women’s basketball head coach Kara Lawson gave advice to students about being steadfast in their values in Page Auditorium. The event was hosted by the Delta Gamma Foundation, as part of the Delta Gamma Lectureship in Values and Ethics, and Duke’s New Student and Family Programs. 

Moderated by Candis Watts Smith, associate professor of political science, the event began with a discussion of the values and ethics Scheyer and Lawson learned growing up.

Lawson talked about how her father, a Marine Corps veteran in the Vietnam War, instilled in her high expectations for how she was to treat others. Scheyer explained that the way his parents exposed him to new environments helped him get used to adversity early on and not expect things to be handed to him. 

Reflecting on these values, Lawson described becoming “more steadfast in some of them,” while others “evolve depending on the situation or ... the experiences that you have.” 

Scheyer agreed on the importance of being steadfast in certain values, but at the same time acknowledged that in his profession, being adaptable is also crucial. 

The coaches shared opportunities that led them to replace or gain values in their early years. Scheyer told a story of trying out for a basketball team as a 6th grader and being the only one of his age to make it. 

“They taught me really how to earn something,” Scheyer said. “Respect is earned.” 

While playing in the WNBA, Lawson “had roommates on the road” who were often from different countries and cultures. This gave her a chance to learn from those differences.

In offering guidance to students facing challenges to their own values, Lawson said it was difficult because students put many expectations on themselves. Scheyer advised students to embrace the adversity to their values as “those are moments for growth.” 

He talked about how his own perceived failures in the past have proven to be learning opportunities.

The coaches then shared thoughts on mistakes and accountability.

“I try to be really clear about what my expectations are,” Scheyer said. 

He talked about how former men’s basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski was demanding of his players, but always the hardest on himself and would try to also improve. Similarly, Scheyer wants to be honest with himself about his own mistakes, and make the purpose of specific workouts clear to players. 

For Lawson, accountability is a major facet of her program. 

“You own your mistake when you make it and you own it right away,” Lawson said. “Hard conversations don’t go away, you have to have them.”

The coaches then shared qualities their players have and students should follow. Lawson discussed her players being smart about their social media consumption. 

“They don’t allow it to take over what they’re thinking too much,” Lawson said.  “They know it’s there but focus on what they are trying to do.”

Scheyer mentioned former Duke star Zion Williamson as having the most intense spotlight of any player he has coached, yet “all he tried to do was shine the light on others.”

Scheyer and Lawson ended by explaining how the Duke community could better support students. Scheyer explained how student athletes are in the spotlight all the time at such a young age, and how empathy and support from the Duke community is important, especially when they make mistakes. 

Lawson emphasized that players spend so much time in the athletic realm, but also need to have academic and social dimensions to their lives. 

“Balance is really important for all of our athletes,” Lawson said.


Parker Harris | Editor at Large

Parker Harris is a Trinity senior and an editor at large of The Chronicle's 118th volume.

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