Imagine a tournament in which both teams finish as champions. That's what occurred Monday in Bridgeport, Connecticut when the Marist College (disclaimer: where I teach) Lady Red Foxes played Loyola University Maryland's Greyhounds for the Women's Basketball MAAC Championship. (Marist won 63-45). Professional teams can only aspire to the consummate level of sportsmanship shown by both coaches, Brian Giorgis of Marist and Joe Logan of Loyola. When Logan led his team on the court after the game to honor Marist, he wasn't just going through the motions. The crowd and fans at each school knew they were experiencing a rare display of mutual respect. Each of these coaches will be the first to thank their players and their fans as well as each other; but think each deserves even a little more time in the spotlight.
Both Brian Giorgis, right, and Joe Logan, below, have been MAAC Coaches of the Year and are homegrown and happy right where they are even though both might find opportunities elsewhere. Logan graduated from Loyola in 1996, met his wife there, and has developed a solid basketball program and winning team. Georgis, long-time coach at Our Lady of Lourdes High School, has coached in Poughkeepsie for 34 years—the past nine at Marist. His loyalty even has been recognized by The New York Times:
POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — After the buzzer echoed through the McCann Center, ending the regular season, 3,000 cheering fans of the Marist women’s basketball team stopped and turned their focus to midcourt, where Coach Brian Giorgis held a microphone.
His Red Foxes had just beaten Fairfield, 60-45, to finish a perfect run through their Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference schedule, going 18-0 for the second time in four years. The victory gave Marist a 23-game winning streak, the nation’s longest and the best in the program’s history. Giorgis used his time to lavish praise on his players and their adoring fans.
For many other coaches of successful midmajor programs, a scene like the one at McCann last Sunday would be a first step toward goodbye on the road to a more high-profile position. But Giorgis has been a part of the fabric of Poughkeepsie for 34 years, first as a high school coach and, since 2002, at Marist. It is not very likely that he is going anywhere.
“I’ll listen to somebody, but it would take an awful lot,” Giorgis said later, away from the crowd. “I’m about my happiness."
Giorgis gives back freely to his community. "Most importantly, Brian has been good for Dutchess County and Poughkeepsie," said James McGuirk, CEO of Astor Services for Children. "After Marist made the NCAA Sweet Sixteen a few years ago, I invited Brian to speak at Astor's annual dinner. He not only agreed without hesitation, he asked if there was anything else he could do for us--and he's been a regular supporter since then, someone who really understands and appreciates the value of the work we do with kids and families. It's been a pleasure to know him and to follow his success."
Both coaches receive high praise from the presidents of their colleges. “I truly believe he’s one of the great coaches in America, men’s or women’s game,” said Dennis J. Murray, Marist’s president, praising Brian Giorgis. “The high quality of the women you see on this team, both in their character and intellect — they’re great students — is reflective of the coach.” Rev. Brian Linnane, S.J., President of Loyola University of Maryland, said fondly of Joe Logan: ""Joe realizes that our student-athletes have a unique opportunity to understand and embrace the core values that define Loyola as a Jesuit university—principles like honesty, integrity, leadership, and commitment to community. He also knows that student-athletes have a chance to uphold these values in a visible way that guides and inspires other students as well. For all his considerable accomplishments on the court, his unwavering commitment to helping the young women on his team accept and thrive in their roles as student-leaders is his most valuable contribution to his alma mater."
Join me in wishing both coaches, both schools, and both teams many successes in the future, and in thanking them for bringing the true spirit of athletics to our young people.
William Van Ornum