Awaited Mystics coach, Eric Thibault, brace yourself for whatever opportunities lie ahead

As far as Eric Tybault could remember, he was one of the people he and his father would share basketball workouts with. He thought having a year-long calendar centered around basketball was the coolest thing. From coaching Mike Tybolt through the NBA, the now-defunct Continental Basketball Association to the NBA during his summers out of college, Eric has made a point to be there whenever he can.

Training is a family affair for Thibaults. One could say that it runs in their blood. Mike has been coaching for over 40 years in all three tournaments. His daughter, Carly Tibow Doodonis, was hired as the women’s basketball coach at Fairfield University earlier this year after working as an assistant coach in Minnesota and Mississippi.

Next to success in the coaching ranks, the heir to the throne of the mysterious Washington is Eric.

There’s an unclassified plan for who will be the next Mystics coach when Mike, 72, decides to call it a career. Eric is in the process of being promoted to the position if Mike retires or moves to a front office-only position as General Manager.

The sheikh has discussed the plan publicly with the media in many cases. Team owner Ted Leonsis (and owner of NBC Sports Washington) For The Washington Post That the organization trusted Mike if he made this decision to promote his son, among any other decisions he had about the future of the team.

That’s all well and good for Eric, but he realizes that it’s not who is at the fore in that decision. All options remain open and he is not waiting for his father to retire.

“I don’t know that’s my choice,” Eric told NBC Sports Washington. A succession plan usually requires that the people above you agree to everything. that’s cool. I mean, [Mike] And the property has the right to change their mind, but I don’t take any of that for granted. I don’t feel qualified for anything. If it happens this way, that’s great and I’ll be prepared, and I’ll feel very proud of it.”

But it wasn’t just his father and sister that Eric has learned over the years. On NBA workouts as a kid, the 35-year-old can list a handful of legendary current and former NBA coaches who were around as a kid.

George Carle (2013 NBA Coach of the Year), Terry Stotts (former Portland Trail Blazers coach from 2012-21), Mike Woodson (NBA coach of the year for eight seasons), Don Newman (long-time NBA assistant coach) and Ron Adams (a longtime Golden State Warriors assistant) are just a few of the coaches he was around as a young man.

Most of these guys were on the Karl’s Milwaukee Bucks staff with Mike. Adams, Stots, and the eldest Tybalt were both assistants there from 1998-2002. Woodson was there for a year. Newman also interfered with these employees.

Stotts would drive him to games and practices when Mike was out of town. Omaha Racers assistant coach Eric Chapman (Mike was the head coach for eight seasons), gave Eric insight at a young age. WNBA assistants Scott Hawk and Bernadette Maddox showed him the ropes when he assisted the Connecticut Sun.

“Eric was a man even as a child who loved adults,” Adams told NBC Sports Washington. “I think he liked this adult world. And he was always present. He was not elsewhere. It was important to him, but he had a chance to observe a lot of different characters, get to know people.”

“I always love being around him,” Eric Thibault said. “I don’t think I consciously knew I wanted to train until later, until later in college, but I always knew I liked being around it.”

Eric was eventually drawn to the sports media. In another parallel universe, he’s the one writing this story on another coach whose next step would be a prestigious position in the WNBA. That only lasted as long as he joined the University of Missouri women’s basketball team during his final year in college. A player who was at the time looking for a job, jumped at the opportunity as the pregnancy led to an opening for a season. There, he began to imagine himself in a coaching role.

Going through the coach’s early growing pains wasn’t a problem for him as he quickly climbed the coaching ladder. Eric loved the finer details of the team’s operations, leading to video cutting assistance, scouting reporting, and yes, preparing the baking order. Getting into the weeds was something Eric would carry with him to St. John’s, Virginia Commonwealth University and finally the Washington Mystics when he first joined his father’s coaching staff in 2013.

“I still don’t mind doing like–I don’t want to say menial tasks–but like little details, getting into the weeds, warming your hands,” Eric said. “Like, so when I started with [Mike] While working in Connecticut, I would make personal adjustments to opponents, write staff reports for my assistant coaches for their scouting reports and draw stats during games, then put them together afterwards, and send them in. So that’s kind of where I started. “

It didn’t really matter what the task was, if it was related to basketball, he was content to handle it. So far with Mystics, he enjoys tasks that might not be supposed to be handled by an assistant manager.

Basically, it is the highest position one can occupy in the coaching staff without being the head coach.

“Eric and his sister were really playing basketball at a really young age,” Adams said. “It’s kind of funny. Mike, a real basketball junkie, kids. Even when Eric was little, he wanted to get involved in everything. He just stopped by and loved that he loved being in the gym.”

Other WNBA teams have inquired about Eric since he was sitting on the Mystics bench. There were multiple offers on the table for him to be the head coach for the other organizations. Aside from filling his dad with COVID-19 and other absences here and there, Eric was never the main one on any level.

Those interviews with coaches forced him to be on this side of him for the first time, by default making decisions and prioritizing how to rebuild the team. Feel ready. Mike agrees.

“I’ve always felt that when I’m ready to walk away from him, he’s ready,” Mike said at the end of the 2021 season. “I’ve felt that for two years now. I haven’t made any decisions about my schedule.”

“I think I’m as prepared as possible without doing that, like you didn’t fly,” Eric said. “I have little samples of it. I think I tried my homework. Like different people at different times, I pick their brains on what they think is important in this job, but again, I’m conscious of not making it seem like that’s what I spend all my time on Do. I mostly spend my time doing my current job and try to be as good as possible because that’s my role with this group.”

Nobody forces Mike out the door to make way for Eric. All parties involved want him to train as long as he wants. Mike says that day will come when he wakes up and doesn’t want to go to the gym or the office anymore and it’s time.

But regardless, if Eric can achieve a fraction of the success that Mike has had at the WNBA level (and hasn’t been hired by another team beforehand), Thibault’s imprint will be on the organization for a long time.

Whether Thibault has one or two in the facility or not will be discussed later.

“My stories are graphic when I look back in my mind, and I see–it was really beautiful. I see Mike and this little guy kind of stuck together at the hip, and it’s a really satisfying picture in my mind,” Adams said.

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