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S U M M E R 2 0 1 1
19
I
n 1939, an aspiring coach and devout
Catholic took a teaching position at a
Catholic high school in Englewood, N.J.
Although Vince Lombardi’s background was
mainly in football, his frst coaching position
at St. Cecilia High School was in basketball.
Lombardi resorted to checking books out of
the library to learn about the sport. Soon, he
reversed the luck of the struggling basketball
program. Lombardi would eventually become
the archetype to which most coaches would
dream to be compared, putting a previously
besieged franchise on the map while driving
it deep into the hearts of Green Bay’s citizens.
Lombardi’s Packers won fve NFL champion-
ships in seven years, appropriately renaming
the city “Title Town.”
In the late 1970s, an enthusiastic kid
and devout Catholic took a teaching post at
a Catholic high school in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Aside from his teaching duties, he was soon
coaching a whole host of sports, some of which
he had no knowledge of. During his quarter-
century tenure at Our Lady of Lourdes High
School, Brian Giorgis coached baseball, softball,
basketball, golf, tennis, and volleyball en route
to becoming the only coach in state history to
take four teams in separate sports to the state
Final Four, and his softball squad captured the
state crown in 1990.
“It’s unbelievable. I have never seen anyone
who’s up for the challenge and has the ability,”
says Peter Lyons, a tennis coach at Lourdes
who worked with Giorgis from 1998 to 2002.
“He’s so analytical; it’s on a different level than
anyone I’ve ever seen. No matter what sport, he
can fnd the weakness in the opposing team.
He sees things that many people don’t see.”
Since Giorgis arrived at Marist nine years
ago, the Red Foxes’ four NCAA Tournament
wins and seven Metro Atlantic Athletic
Conference (MAAC) Tournament champion-
ships in an eight-year span have drawn the
national spotlight and propelled a previously
struggling program into a prominent source
of pride for the student body and communi-
ty. The Red Foxes have effectively become the
“Title Town” of the MAAC. And with Giorgis
inking a new contract to remain at Marist until
at least 2017, the chances of a MAAC women’s
basketball trophy being displayed in another
school’s gymnasium in the coming years seem
pretty slim. He was inducted into the New York
State Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010, and in
2011 he was named MAAC Coach of the Year
for the ffth time in his career at Marist.
So who is the guy behind all this, the coach
who can request that Bruce Springsteen’s “Born
to Run” be added to the Marist Band’s repertoire
and have it done almost immediately? What
drives the man whose Lombardi-esque roars
pierce the James J. McCann Recreation Center
as clearly as his chuckles on the team bus
during
Legally Blonde
? And most importantly,
what keeps him at the mid-major powerhouse
he created? For the 55-year-old Giorgis, his
goals haven’t changed much since his arriv-
al. Behind the greatness is a man motivated
by loyalty to his community and gratefulness
for his players, colleagues, and friends. “I’m
just a creature of habit,” Giorgis says. “I’m not
one of those people who are always looking for
the step-up, the next thing. I am about being
happy and looking forward to going to work
every day. ”
Giorgis cites both of his parents as a source
of inspiration, his mother, Agnes, for raising
six children, all born within six years, to be
good Catholic people; and his father, John, for
working full-time as an engineer for General
Electric but still managing to fnd suffcient
time for his children. “They sacrifced so much
in their lives to make sure we had things,” says
Giorgis, who was raised in Syracuse, N.Y. His
parents always maintained a sense of balance,
a manner Giorgis maintains today with his
teams. Although John and Agnes Giorgis
supported their children’s interests, their kids
would not automatically receive a new baseball
glove or cleats each spring. The balance in the
household taught the kids the value of things,
and by the time he hit college, the lesson was
ingrained. Giorgis knew he wasn’t going for
a “four-year party.” He was aiming to do the
things necessary so he could succeed.
Early in his childhood, Giorgis, much
like Lombardi, thought of becoming a priest.
However, he soon began to enjoy going to the
playground to impersonate his favorite New
York Knicks star, Willis Reed. And although
he never joined the seminary, the Catholic faith
Coach of the Year
s
B Y J I M U R S O ’ 1 1
PHOTOS COURTESY OF MARIST ATHLETICS
The tenth-seeded Red Foxes upset seventh-
seeded Iowa State 74-64 in the first round of the
NCAA Tournament at Duke University’s Cameron
Indoor Stadium.