On May 1st I was invited to join a book club with Salisbury University athletic coaches. I am an SU alum, I now live near campus, and I love staying close and involved with higher ed and students. As I walked in to the Breakfast Bum (our wonderful meet up location for an 8am book club) I was greeted by a student-athlete who I had worked with earlier in the year. He is a graduating senior who just finished up his final season as a basketball player for the Sea Gulls. I congratulated him on his terrific season! This past season the SU men’s basketball squad won the programs second ever CAC conference championship and first since the 1995-96 season. This year marked the first 20-win season since the 1996-97 campaign, a program-record 14 conference wins, and they advanced to the NCAA Division III tournament for the first time since 1996-97 before losing in the second round. Quite the senior year!
As I congratulated him he interrupted me to say, “Thank you for speaking to us! Your program was the turning point for our season. We didn’t lose a game until the NCAA tournament after that.” I was really touched by his comments and I quickly shot back, “Oh well you guys are the ones who won the games! You had it in you all along.” To which he quickly shot back, “Exactly. Which is why your program meant so much to us. We had it in us. We just needed you to pull it out. #DontBe in our own way.”
This hit me. I watched with excitement as the Sea Gulls won game after game this season. I felt a connection because I knew the players and I am good friends with Coach Merkel. But I never felt I had anything to do with their success. And to be honest, I still don’t! Coach Merkel is a top notch coach and someone who values building the man as well as the player. This led to their success. The Sea Gull team this past year was committed to success and a talented group of hard working men. This led to their success. Was my #DontBe program the entire reason for their success? Of course not. Did #DontBe serve as a catalyst for SU’s success this past season? I sure hope so and this is always my intent when I work with team of athletes.
I am glad #DontBe allowed the Sea Gulls to play their game, their way, and on their terms. Congratulations again on a record breaking season!