By Anterrica Brady
Panther Burn, MS
Scrimmaging with one another, basketball players ferociously dribble the ball against the hardwood floor as their shoes squeak. Although the noisy air conditioner continues to chill the air, the players are still sweating. Meanwhile, one man sits calmly without a single bead of sweat.
Behind the scenes, Skyelar Ettin, a 24-year-old assistant basketball coach at Princeton University, has a huge role to play in his team’s games. As a young man leading other young men, Ettin has proven to be a capable leader, displaying a surprising level of confidence and experience. Although his age is close to his players’, Ettin remains professional. Ettin believes that it’s important to show “the players this is [his] job and [he] takes pride in it.”
Knowing that he wanted a far more engaging job, Ettin never worked behind a desk staring at computers. While basketball and coaching were serious options, Ettin also considered being a guidance counselor. In high school, Ettin, who grew up in Princeton, interned for the University’s basketball team. Before he knew it, he was the director of operations for the team.
Thinking back, Ettin isn’t surprised by his career trajectory. Although Ettin played baseball as a kid and football in high school, basketball has always been a part of his life. During college, Ettin dreamed of playing in the NBA, but after realizing his dream might be unattainable, he started to consider coaching.
After breaking his foot at Guilford, where he began his college career before transferring to The College of New Jersey, Ettin was unable to play games. Serendipitously, Ettin began to pay close attention to his coach.
When he came back to the team at Princeton, Ettin deployed the leadership lessons he learned from his coaches.
“I enjoy working with Skye, he’s a hard worker,” said Princeton assistant coach Kerry Kittles, who has worked with Ettin for two months. “Skye’s a passionate young kid and great with the players.”
Ettin’s ultimate goal for his team is to win the Ivy League championship. To get there, he continuously ponders and questions the best way to improve the team.
“I want to see the best version of ourselves together,” he said.
For Ettin, that means winning while working together and making each other better.
“How do you change the culture of a program?” Ettin asks rhetorically.