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The importance of relationships

As coaches, we all understand how important relationships are in our profession. Relationships with other coaches as well as relationships with our players.

When David Cutcliffe woke up in the hospital following his triple-bypass surgery a few years ago, on visitor came in to see him. That man was John Latina, now on Cutcliffe's staff as the offensive line coach.

Latina and Cutcliffe had formed a strong bond during their time together at Ole Miss and Latina eventually joined Duke staff as the offensive line coach.

During the off season, Latina headed a group of 11 of players that decided to take their bond to the next level by taking a mission trip to Ethiopia. While there their objective was to hand drill a freshwater well for the villagers. Not an easy task.

The trip was meant to bring the offensive line unit closer together, to further develop their relationship as teammates and friends so that as individuals they can work better together as a unit...much like the working relationship between assistant coaches and the head coach. Everyone working toward a common goal.

“Everybody was in it together. It’s not like he was the head coach and everybody else was waiting for his command to go to work. I think that really formed what I consider a great friendship.” Latina said about his relationship with Cutcliffe.

It is that type of attitude and focus that the two have brought to Duke that will be important this season as they take on Stanford on the road, as well as conference road games at Virginia Tech, Florida State, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech.