Sports long has played a pivotal role in the lives of Preston Laird and his family. Now he brings his passion for basketball to Southern Nevada where he wants to pass along the life lessons he has learned from the game to UNLV’s Runnin’ Rebels.
The short answer is (head men’s basketball coach) Marvin Menzies. I am familiar with the great tradition, the history, and all of the success that the program has had. From the outside looking in, you always want to be a part of something like that, but I probably wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Coach Menzies. I believe in him just like I believe in my own father. I trust in him and he is a great person to work for. All of those things are reasons why I am here.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. I went to White Station High School, finished up at Germantown High School, and attended the University of Memphis. I was born and raised in Memphis.
As a Memphis native, can you give us an insider's tip on the best barbecue place?
- Central BBQ for BBQ Nachos
- Corky's BBQ for Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich
- Rendezvous for Dry Ribs
- Blues City Cafe for Wet Ribs
What inspired you to get into your field?
It has been evolutionary for me from the beginning of my career to now. I played the game of basketball from an early age through college. Initially, the camaraderie and competitive nature of the game were attractive — not to mention, the places you go and the people that you meet along the way. All of those things are reasons that I was initially attracted to the profession. But now what I have come to realize is the responsibility I carry. Basketball has taught me a lot about life and now it is my job to pass that along to our players. This responsibility has become my lasting inspiration.
What is the biggest challenge in your field?
I think the biggest challenge for all coaches is managing our own expectations. There are always external expectations, but most coaches — myself included — have even higher expectations. I had good advice one time from an associate head coach (now the head coach at New Mexico State) who told me perfection was the goal. I have adopted this to be my professional mantra. Combining high expectations with my mantra can make self-satisfaction forever fleeting. It is important to remember, while you always want to be perfect and meet expectations, do not get so lost in the pursuit of future expectations that you forget to smell the roses.
Finish this sentence, “If I couldn’t work in my current field, I would like to …”
I’d love to be a PGA golfer. I have a strong passion for golf, and it is unfortunate that I don’t get to play more. But when I do play I savor every shot. Outside of my profession it is a way to stay competitive with myself, while enjoying a little fresh air.
Any tips for success?
Two things – embrace discipline and try to do what you love.
Who is your hero and why?
My parents for sure. I know you asked for a hero and not heroes, but I would say my mom and my dad. They are really great people and hard-working individuals. My mother played for Pat Summitt at Tennessee and my father ran track at Murray State in Kentucky. They have used sports to teach me my morals and values and I have great respect and admiration for them. They are definitely my heroes.
Pastimes or hobbies?
I really like to play Frisbee.
Tell us about an object in your office that has significance for you.
There is a picture in my office. Last September I was invited to (University of Kentucky head basketball coach) John Calipari’s Hall of Fame induction. He called all of his former players up on the stage and thanked us for being a part of his journey. He sent me a picture of all of us on stage and it says ‘Preston, you made this happen – John Calipari.’ It is very special to me.