June 17, 2014
WASHINGTON - Georgetown University's Head Men's Basketball Coach John Thompson III and Head Women's Basketball Coach Natasha Adair were among four panelists of local coaches at Catholic Charities' Spiritual Retreat on Wednesday morning at the Edward J. Pryzbyla Center at The Catholic University of America in Northeast Washington, D.C.
The group included Thompson, Adair, George Washington Head Men's Basketball Coach Mike Lonergan and University of Maryland Head Football Coach Randy Edsall. It was moderated by local sports broadcaster Joe Beninati and the event was run by Monsignor John Enzler of Catholic Charities.
Nearly 500 people attended the panel where the local coaches spoke on teamwork, leadership and the importance of compassion and faith in the work that they do. The attendees included people from the many branches of Catholic Charities, and the lessons were applicable to each separate program.
Thompson discussed the importance of the team concept among all players.
"It's not about each individual person, it's about us as a team and you can't have slippage," said Thompson. "Our players have to understand who we are and how we do things.
"You can't treat each and every person the exact same way, some people respond to reward, some people respond to punishment."
Adair also touched upon identifying leaders and their role in a team environment.
"You can identify a leader immediately, because they surface to the front. You watch them when they enter a room, how they respond, how they interact," she said. "You meet with them, you challenge them and you reiterate your goals. You don't put the onus on them, you tell them that we need you to help the team. Always refer back to the team concept."
"I tell leaders that I see greatness in them. I try to motivate from a positive standpoint and not make a pressure situation, leadership is their gift."
Questions came from both Beninati as well as the audience. Thompson was asked about his relationship with players at Georgetown and beyond when student-athletes turn into professionals.
"One thing that is often lost by the general public about intercollegiate athletics is that with all the attention that all our teams get in this day in age, we're still coaching, teaching, helping to raise 17-22 year olds," Thompson said.
"You might see a Georgetown game on TV and start to think of them like they're pros, but the reality is that our job is very different from coaches at a professional level. Probably 20 percent of my job is basketball, maybe less, so much more is helping these young men and women hopefully after four years that we can kick them out of the nest and they will be ok."
Adair, in her first year with the Hoyas as the head coach, used her transition to show what team needs to be successful.
"Our motto this year is `Earn It' and everything we do, we're going to earn together. Once we earn it, we'll `Own It' and once we get past that, we'll celebrate it. When you celebrate it, you do it together."
The panel was the beginning of a day-long retreat that included mass in the morning and workshops in the afternoon.