See basketball differently.
As you can imagine, the excitement on the Evergreen campus is reaching a fever pitch as Loyola prepares to dance in the NCAA men's basketball tournament. This return to the tournament, after an 18-year drought, is possible due to the accomplishments of a gifted group of athletes, the support of the Loyola community, and the leadership of a great coach: I watch the media show the animated Coach Jimmy Patsos—so recognizable on the sidelines of Greyhounds games—and I wish they would also focus on the inspiring, thoughtful leader I have come to know in my years with Loyola.
I teach a leadership class in the Sellinger Scholars program, a program for our top undergraduate students. Each semester, students write their leadership philosophy, and then I bring in a variety of leaders to discuss their successes and setbacks, and what has been important in their journeys. Corporate giants as well as nonprofit organization leaders have visited with the students, and two years ago, I began inviting Jimmy Patsos to class.
Now, to be honest, the first year I invited Jimmy, I did so as a representative of a leader under pressure. Jimmy was in his sixth year as head coach, and could clearly hear the whispers about Loyola's desire to reach the NCAA Tournament. As Jimmy notes, there are only 212 people in the world lucky enough to have his job: head coach of a Division I men's basketball program. There's a lot of pressure to keep this job.
What we discovered in working with Jimmy is that he is an individual who leads with gratitude for all of the opportunities he has been given, and one who readily gives credit to all who have helped him to reach this level. What I also found was a very smart man—a well-read man, who made the point to students that he never wants to be embarrassed that he is not up on current events when he is talking with a graduate or a senior executive. Jimmy reads and watches the news and is impressively knowledgeable on topics ranging from Middle East tensions to Fashion Week trends. We also found a leader who knows that his athletes will have an entire life beyond the basketball court, and it is up to Jimmy to be one of the individuals who helps to prepare our students for this life.
Why do Jimmy’s Greyhounds often play teams in coastal cities? Because Jimmy likes being able to take his players to the beach, a place some have never been before. Don't be surprised to see a bunch of very tall young men in the Charles Theater watching a foreign film with subtitles; Jimmy thinks appreciating the art of film is something his team needs to understand. And following the loss to Fairfield during the season, when the athletes knew they had not played well and were down in the dumps, the team bus played Love Story on the trip back to campus. Why? Because Jimmy wanted to show the students what real loss was; in the end, a game is just a game. Life is about far more than the final score when players leave a basketball court.
Our Loyola community is lucky to have countless examples of leadership in our midst, with Jimmy being a stellar example. I hope you join me this week as we root for the Greyhounds to be the team of integrity and hard work that we have enjoyed watching all year. These players reflect the hard work of a strong leader. I hope you also take a moment to read some of the leadership tips that Jimmy was kind enough to share with our readers this month in “Locker Room Leadership.”
As always, please contact me with your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unleash the Hounds!