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Q&A with Coach Clayton Bissett

Updated: Mar 22, 2022

By James Fisher

Shield Staff


How did you come to work at Rochester University?

Coach [Klint] Pleasant and I have known each other for a long time. We met in college — we were college roommates. Eventually, he was here at Rochester and I was working at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Prep. He told me they were looking for a new assistant athletic director and they wanted to start golf. Knowing Coach Pleasant for a long time, I got to know his dad, Garth; I followed Rochester. When I was coaching at Abilene Christian in Texas with Klint, we would invite Rochester University’s basketball team and had them in our tournament and I got to know Garth even better. So, when I got the opportunity to work here, I jumped at it. I learned pretty early on in my professional career that it’s a lot more important who you work for than how much money you make. When I got the opportunity to work with my best friend, how do you turn that down?


What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Watching our student-athletes is the most rewarding part of my job. Whether that is on the court, the field, the pitch for soccer, the golf course, wherever, to me, that is the most rewarding part of my job: watching our student-athletes compete.


What do you do outside your job to stay sane, relieve stress, etc.? or What are your hobbies?

When I get done with work, and it’s a time when I have my boys, and you have just picked them up from school and you see how happy they are and to be able to talk to them and my work is over. It’s really cool when I get to go home and hang out with them. Whether that is watching YouTube with them or throwing darts or Nerf-gun fights with Mikey - my youngest - or the three of us playing Call of Duty together, whatever it is, it is so cool to be able to do that. People who are not parents do not understand that. Just being able to go home and hang out with your kids.


Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Texas. I was going to school to be a broadcasting journalist; I wanted to be a sports announcer. My dad probably told me from when I was a sophomore in high school that I should be a coach. My response to him always was: ‘Why go through the stress of being a coach when I could sit behind a desk and talk about it?’ Well, I was probably about six hours from graduation and I was going to take those classes over the summer, graduate, and then get a job; I already had a job at a television station. That is when I decided I wanted to coach. So, the first person I called was Coach Pleasant and I said: ‘Hey! What do I do?’ And he said: “Call my dad.” So, I called Garth and he said just get your degree and then get a job wherever you can doing whatever you can; if you’re working for free, that’s fine. So, I said: ‘O.K.’


Do you have a favorite thing to do in Michigan or in the city of Rochester?

I really enjoy — and it is always a hassle, but it is always cool to do it - going downtown to look at the lights. It’s such a pain because there are so many people, so many cars, no place to park and you’re going a mile an hour, but it is just so cool to see. Even when the Christmas lights aren’t up, it is still cool - just a cool place to be.


What is your most prized possession?

I think my most prized possession is a Christmas gift I got from Coach Pleasant this past year. It’s a framed picture of Pikes Peak. When we were working together at Abilene Christian, Klint looked at me and the other assistant one day, and said: “O.K., next week we are going to take a trip.” Whenever he says we are going somewhere, I just hop in the car with him and just go, and wherever we end up is where we end up and it’s all good.


We were hiking Pikes Peak and none of us are dressed for it and we also started late. I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt; they are wearing some jackets. It starts to get really cold and we start running out of water. Coach never drinks after anybody — he won’t even drink after his wife; but he looked at me and he goes: “Do you have any water left?” And I said ‘I only have this one and I have been drinking out of it.’ He goes: “I don’t care.” It’s the only time I have ever seen him drink after someone else! It started raining; then it started sleeting; then it started to snow; then it started to thunder. We start again and it is thundering and it’s above the tree line and I’m the tallest thing around. So, we’re making these switchbacks and we make a turn on this one switchback and there is this metal sign there telling you how much further you have to go. Well, the sign is buzzing and all my hair started standing up on end. I grew up in Texas so I know what it’s like when lightning is getting ready to strike and so I just started running! So they are running after me and finally we make it up the hill, up the mountain, took some pictures, caught the last trolley down, got to the hotel, ate some pizza and then crashed! That was a really cool trip we took together; we talk about it a lot. So, when he got that gift for me I just thought that was perfect.


What is your embarrassing moment?

I do not get embarrassed too often but I guess I would have to say it was when I was in high school. I was in the marching band. We were State Champs two years in a row which, in Texas, is a big deal. The one year I had a solo where I would come out in front of the entire band and play. We got to the end of the song that was before my solo at the contest and we stopped and all of a sudden I freeze. I said, to the person next to me: ‘Don’t look, but do you know how it goes?’ She said: “I have no idea!” At the moment, I thought about not playing it because I did not know what I was going to do. Well, it got time for me to walk up front: I walked up front and almost got through it. I do not know how but I almost got through it all. I got all the way to the end: and then I missed a note. That was pretty embarrassing. In front of all the people in the crowd and stands; I would say there are probably 5,000 people there. So that was pretty embarrassing!


What is the biggest obstacle you've had to overcome?

I think I would have to say playing college football. I came from a small town in Texas, with 10,000 people. I was always the smallest, one of the slowest - at least at my position. I was a wide receiver and safety in high school. When I went to college, I played wide receiver, but they tried to move me to tight end. I was never the most athletic person or anything like that: I just out-worked every day. Going to college as a slow wide receiver who was 6’4’’ and weighed 175 lbs. - that was not easy.


What single piece of advice would you give to students today?

It would be something my first boss told me: it is more important to work with good people and to enjoy your job than it is to fill your bank account. There are a lot of miserable people walking around that have a lot of money but hate their job and hate the people they work with. Now, if you can find a job where you’re working with good people and you love your job and you’re making a gobble of money: you’ve just hit the jackpot. But, you’re going to live a happier, fuller life if you just have a little bit of money and enjoy your job. I think it was Garth that said: “I love my job and I have never worked a day in my life.”


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