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Welcome to 2014 folks!! For those who don’t know yet, this website is dedicated to introduce the public to athletes’ lives by collecting their confessions.
I am Vyvie. My wish is to present you these persons, places, moments that make us loving sport, by breaking the standards to present athlete’s true lives behind the scenes.
For this New Year I decided my chronicle should be international, and bilingual. My 1st “Coups de coeur” of this year is both! Former basketball player of Cholet Basket, France, and now personal trainer of Kevin Seraphin, player for the Washington Wizards.
Ladies and gents let me introduce you to the “ beared coach ” aka Sébastien Morin.
« I am leaving a dream! So I live for the moment. »
– Sébastien Morin
Hi Sébastien, happy New Year!
Hi Sylvie, thank you, Happy New Year! I wish you a productive year, full of happiness and fun.
So, where and how did you spend your NY’s eve?
I spent New Year’s eve here, in Washington. I am glad I had my little brother Mathieu coming from France for the holidays. We had dinner at home with Kevin and his family, then went to a Casino. Nothing too fancy.
Does a PT allow himself some excess during this kind of occasions?
Well it depends on what you would call « excesses ». With my brother we did open a good bottle of wine! Still, the diner was healthy and balanced. I can’t really eat oily or fatty food. Nutrition is very important for me so I tend to follow the rules.
From Cholet in France, to Washington, from the French league to the NBA, how has life changed for you?
Clearly my life has changed, personally and professionally! From a small city in France to Washington it’s definitely something! I love both cities though. I have been traveling a lot in my life, and I think what eventually matters is not the city by itself, but how you, you feel. It will define how you perceive the city and its opportunities. Send anyone sad in the most beautiful city, still that person wouldn’t appreciate it. Each experience is a projection of your own-self. So far, I have liked every cities I have been in , all beautiful and full of interesting people.
Regarding the NBA, well it is definitely another world! Lead by business more than by sport. Still, what an amazing enterprise David Stern has been building! Everything is so pro here, smartly thought. Nothing is given up to hazard. Just impressive!!
On a personal level, everything goes just fine. I am blessed to live in a very interesting city. Washington is rich of History, architecture is amazing, it is full of great restaurants and many different cultures are mingling here. Professionally it is very stimulating too. I work with a player I have seen progressing throughout the years. We have experienced a lot together and we keep on discovering many things together.
By being in charge of an athlete playing for the league that makes the whole world dream, do you feel some pressure?
I don’t really feel any pressure. I more feel lucky, and forced to give only my best. Pressure can, not only, be a source of motivation, but also have this negative connotation. No one can really give its best if surrounded by negativity! I have a constant wish of evolving, by acquiring new formations, interacting with other NBA coaches from NBA or NCAA, etc… I pay attention to my player’s expectations at all time, while trying to anticipate these little things, that could occur at any moment in the life of a professional athlete.
Anyway, that’s just a bliss!
As a French working in an area mainly dominated by Americans, how do you manage to differentiate yourself, to get recognition/acceptance/respect?
I never faced any issues with the various staffs I have been working with so far. In the USA, my job is very respected. I am not perceived as an enemy, but as a professional who actually helps. The team will get more chances to reach its goals if optimizing the potential of its players!!!s So basically they pay more attention to your work than to your passport. Then it is just like anywhere else, a question of people and feeling. When I first arrived in Washington I introduced myself to the staff and the GM straight away. I told them what I wanted to do with Kevin and they told me what they were expecting from me back.
Eventually we don’t step on each other’s toes, we definitely work together.
According to you French athletes have great athletic abilities, so what would justify that not so many French eventually shine within the NBA?
To me, France clearly has a bunch of incredible athletes in Europe. We are not the most represented nation in the NBA just by chance. We have a fortuitous legacy, a certain melting pot that makes our players fitter. I don’t really agree with you, I think we have many French doing great in the NBA… We have one of the best point guard (Tony Parker), others who do really good and many talented young players who will soon join the NBA. Plus, just being in the NBA is success in itself! How many players from France, Europe and even from the US would dream to play in the NBA but will just never do so? Every player of this league deserves to be here, there is no hazard! Nothing is easy in NBA, the league is so competitive! I think it is very difficult to understand the NBA from outside. When I was in France I thought I understood it, but once you are in it, reality hits you. Eventually the performance of a player is not really related to him. The NBA is about opportunities, sometimes small doors open up. Some have shown their talent by replacing an injured player (like for Jeremy Lin), other would be given more time to play by a a new coach/GM, some players fit better in a different team, and the constant negociation of contracts can give « outsiders » a better shot… Many little things can make a huge difference. Just be patient, stay positive and keep on working hard!
I often mention the example of Eric Bledsoe. He was not playing much with the Clippers. A year later, he is playing in Phoenix and now might join the All Star Games! There are plenty of examples like that! In one year this player has not changed. He still has the same qualities. He just has found an opportunity. Imagine, the world counts about 8 billion people, around 400 are actually in the NBA, and yes “only” 11 are eventually French. Still not that bad…
So being in a good shape is important but being mentally prepared is key to go through a whole season, to stomach the travels and play without getting injured. How do you manage to handle an athlete who is 3 times your size? (Laughs)
Indeed, Kevin and I are very different! Both in terms of age (24/33), of culture (Guyane/Bretagne), of height (6.78 ft/ 5.78ft), and weights (269lbs/ 167lbs). But we have a tight relationship. We have been working together for 8 years now! We made a long way together, from Cholet where I was coaching, up to the professional league. Together we lived both bitter defeats and great victories there. In sum, we know each other perfectly. We sometimes don’t even need to talk to understand each other. We have such a reciprocal respect. We never hesitate to go straight to the point, either in the good and the bad moments. I think the strength of our relationship is based on that. Plus we both definitely know what we want!
You decided to leave your country, your family and friends mainly to coach Kevin Séraphin, was it a sacrifice, a choice or one of these opportunities not to miss?
Initially I left France for other reasons. When Kevin had been injured he contacted me and we got back in touch like that. It is funny, we arrived and left Cholet at the same time, but for different reasons. And now we are here, in the USA, in the NBA, together. Like we were destined to meet each other and work together…. I think everything happens for a reason, you don’t meet people just by hazard.
I am the « I have regrets » kind. So I live for the moment. I don’t really miss France that much, because I am full-blown in my new life here. Of course I do miss my family and friends. They are far away now. But I learned to step back from that. As long as my family knows that I am happy, and I know everything is going well for them too, then it is all good. Plus, new technologies help to keep in touch, and so I am always aware of what happens there. Hence, each of my summer trip in France is now a great moment of joy. I can discover my Bretagne again. It is pure pleasure. In fact, working with a French basketball athlete in the NBA, doing a job I love, to me it is clearly one of these opportunities I could not miss. I could never look at it as a sacrifice.
From outside looking in, the NBA is a dream. Is it still once you get a foot in it? As a former player and fan of basketball, what can be disturbing or exciting for someone living in the USA?
Well you know sometimes in life, you idealize something so much that you first think it is just unreachable. Then, once you are all in, it becomes the normality, a routine. Yet, I force myself to remember where I come from (Montauban de Bretagne, small city of 5000 habitants!) and my journey has been. I am leaving a dream now! When I was a kid there is nothing I would have done to watch just one NBA game. Now it is not a dream anymore, but my reality! I try to share that with my family as often as possible.
I know you think that the French league is facing some lacks in terms of physical training for players, what do you think should be done to fix that?
When I talked about that, it was in 2010, at that time I was fitness trainer for Cholet Basket. Sincerely, it would be difficult for me to have an opinion now because I don’t know much about the ProA anymore. But I can tell how glad I am to see Nanterre hiring a full time fitness trainer (Vincent Dziagwa). Though they are having one of the smallest budget of the league! And look at the results!! (Nanterre won the national championship in 2013, and played the Euroligue).
I think it is important and necessary for a team to work closely with a fitness trainer, and Nanterre is just showing the way. It is not a question of money! where there is a will, there is way! Many players from ProA and ProB get at me to have advices and express their frustration. Players understand that a good preparation is key to progress, maintain a good level and prevent injuries.
Are you roommates too, or do you are have your own crib?
No we are not. I have my crib….. in his basement ! Laughs. This is very practical for night stretching sessions, and so we can go to the gym together for our WO.
Obviously, beyond the partners in training, Kevin and you are also « Partners in crime ». It is important to develop such a complicity to work efficiently with an athlete?
Yes it is important to be tight with your athlete. As long as, when it comes to work, everyone abides by his role! I spend every single day with him, so yes we became complicit. Yet, our WO are very professional and rigorous. This is one of the reasons why I appreciate working with Kevin, we manage to find the right balance between mad fun and hard work.
Ok, let’s talk about your common friends: skeleton, Fox & Rocky… you put them at work too? (Laughs). Skeleton is a little bit skinny, what is his program?
Skeleton is more Kevin’s friend! I met him a couple of times, he is not very talkative, laughs! But Fox and Rocky are my boys! This is the first time I have dogs and I really love them. They are super nice and they grow up so fast! Yeah, with them too I do my job, I force them to run on a regular basis, laughs!
Now let’s talk about your love affair with…. your bear! Laughs. Tell us more about it, how did it all start? Is it popular with women, in the US, in France?
Ah, my bear!! Well it all started in January last year, I spent 3 weeks in Dallas and could not shave… so I just let it grow from then. Some women like it, others don’t. But it sure makes people talk!! On Instagram, I saw people having an addiction for bear! I guess I am not the only one!! Funny fact, here it is like my asset, « the beared coach », likewise James Harden or Rick Ross … I like that about the US: you can wear whatever you want! There is not one but plenty of styles. Now, one thing is for sure: I will not cut it!!!
I know you admire Mohammed Ali and that you hate staying in a « comfort zone ». You are such a sport addict: HIIT, CROSSFIT, WO, etc… Anyway, whatever hurts! Laughs. Is it just an addiction to push your limits or is it something else, less reputable? (Laughs)
Hum… what you mean by being something else, «less reputable»!? I know you are addict to sport too, so maybe you could help me with that question?! Laughs!!
But yes I have some addictions.
I am addict to tattoo. I will soon add one on my arm by the way. My tattoos have more signification than my bear eventually. My bear is just a style, when my tattoos tell my life.
Then, I do like pushing the limits, but to a certain extend only. I think it comes from my education and my childhood. My parents taught me to do everything 100% and not to cheat.
But hey, pushing the limits does not mean getting hurt! It is about controlling your body over your mind.
Now, if someone wants to get along with you, what is the secret?
Just to be honest, spontaneous. Not trying to manipulate me nor play mind games. I love genuine people and simple things life can offer. Since I moved in the USA, people think I have changed. Yet, I cherish nothing more than meeting up with my old friends from Montfort and Rennes! To me these moments with my circle are just priceless!
Ok, I like to finish an interview with this:
What is the worst, the funniest, and the less expected question you ever been asked?
Hum »the worst one »!?…. This one actually, laughs! Because I don’t know what would be the worst question I have been asked so I can’t really answer!! Sorry Sylvie, lol!
The funniest: « why did you tattoo the Juventus flag on your arm? » When it is the flag of Bretagne!! Lol!!
The less expected would be when people stop me and ask me « Are you Robin Thick/ Mark Wallbergh/Rob McElhenney?” Laughs! It happens more and more often though!
Once, I was in a restaurant and a couple kept on staring at me. They finally came and ask me if I was MAC from « It’s always sunny in Philadelphia » (Rob McElhenney, cf picture on the right!!). I told them, no I am not. They just answered “we know it is you, but we totally understand that you don’t want to be disturbed!!”!! Laughs!!! Might sound weird, but that’s a true story!
What question would you like to answer and what is your answer to it?
«What is the best and worst moment of your career?»
A game perfectly played, all the supporters wearing red, the standing ovation and Richard Dacoury, my idole at that time, giving me the medal!!!
It is such a pride to be the 1st team, in the club history, to win the national championship. Witnessing everyone being so exultant, from the coach to the president, and been told “the real big thing we made tonight, is to make so many people happy!”. This is clearly something I will never forget. I am really proud of that. Basketball takes a huge place in this city, the whole community gives a lot of its time for that sport.
The worst moment is also linked to Cholet Basket. In 2010, I worked hard with the players to be ready for the Euroleague. Eventually I missed their games because I was already in the USA…. Bad timing!
What could we wish you in 2014?
Wish me to be healthy and happy! As I am launching my own website of online training , so wish me good luck too. And, to win the lottery on a misunderstanding by the way! Lol!