Joe Krabbenhoft's announcement that he was hanging up his basketball sneakers to pursue a career in coaching was met with some skepticism by some of his friends and family members.
They know how much the former blue-collar forward for the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team loves to play the game. Will he really be able to sit there and watch others dive for loose balls, set screens and battle for rebounds?
"It's 3 feet from the sidelines," Krabbenhoft tells them. "My competitive juices will still be going. I'll just be in a suit and tie rather than in my uniform, and that's OK."
Krabbenhoft, who played at UW from 2005-09, is ecstatic that he gets to begin his climb up the coaching ladder with the Badgers. UW coach Bo Ryan announced Wednesday he hired Krabbenhoft as the program's video coordinator.
It's a ground-floor position, but Krabbenhoft, 25, knows there's no better way to learn more about the game he loves while building his resume. UW's previous video coordinator, former Badgers guard Sharif Chambliss, was hired last month as an assistant coach at UW-Milwaukee. Two other former UW video coordinators under Ryan — Duffy Conroy (UW-Milwaukee) and Ryan's son, Will (North Dakota State) parlayed the position into NCAA Division I assistant coaching gigs.
"I think it's a great position to start at," said Krabbenhoft, whose three seasons of professional basketball since leaving UW included stops in the NBA's Development League, Korea, Greece and Spain. "You're living and breathing film: breaking down teams, watching offenses and defenses and really learning and soaking that aspect of coaching all in.
"I'm looking forward to doing that. Coaching isn't just something you know how to do right from the beginning. You've got to learn and this is kind of the first step."
Krabbenhoft has wanted to coach since his days as a high school star in South Dakota. But he wasn't necessarily ready to retire as a player when he returned home in May following a season in Spain.
"I came home thinking I was going to take a couple months and rest up and get ready for another season," Krabbenhoft said. "And this opportunity kind of came out of nowhere."
The timing couldn't have been better. He and wife, Sara — they were high school sweethearts in Sioux Falls — are expecting their first child, a boy, in about a month.
"To work under coach Ryan, who I think is the best coach in the country, and be back at my alma mater — a place I love — was a great opportunity," said Krabbenhoft, who will stay in South Dakota until his son is born and then move to Madison. "It wasn't easy (to stop playing), but at the end the day when you lay the facts out, it was a no-brainer for me."
Krabbenhoft is tied with Jordan Taylor for the most games played at UW at 136. An honorable mention All-Big Ten Conference choice as a senior, he is the only player in UW history with at least 750 rebounds and 250 assists.
What fans loved most about Krabbenhoft, who helped the Badgers win Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles during the 2007-08 season, was how hard he played and his willingness to do the dirty work. He might be UW's all-time leader in stitches and blood shed on the court.
Those days were memorable for Krabbenhoft, but he's ready to start the next chapter of his basketball journey.
"Three years as a professional and, before that, four years at Wisconsin was a great career," he said. "I have no regrets. Won a lot of games, made some great relationships. It kind of led to this.
"I'm happy with the way my playing career went and I think it's time to work toward the ultimate goal, and that's to be a (head) coach someday. And this is where it starts."