Page 22 - publication

SEO Version

20
M A R I S T M A G A Z I N E
Coach of the Year
s
continued
remains his foundation, “even though some-
times it doesn’t look it, and we can fail, and I
start screaming at our kids,” he says. “It’s my
life.” Close friend and former colleague Paul
Latino remembers Giorgis’s insistence on
attending Mass during team road trips.
A three-sport athlete in high school, Giorgis
played soccer and baseball but describes
basketball as the sport he was always play-
ing. He earned honorable mention all-county
honors, but the team he captained during
his senior year fnished with just 2 wins and
16 losses. However, his coach maintained a
positive attitude, a manner that profoundly
infuenced the soon-to-be teacher.
Giorgis played soccer and baseball at the
State University of New York at Cortland while
studying health education. While he always
wanted to teach, Giorgis’s experience with
sports almost led him onto the feld of play.
His skills as a baseball pitcher put him on a
path to the major leagues. He earned a tryout
for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but the road ended
when he threw out his arm.
Giorgis earned his bachelor’s degree in
health education in 1977, shortly after his
parents moved to South Euclid, an eastern
suburb of Cleveland. After graduating from
Cortland, Giorgis moved to his family’s new
home. Then, aside from taking a leave of
absence to earn his master’s degree in health
education from Virginia Tech University in
1982, Giorgis made Lourdes his home for 25
years.
When he arrived at Lourdes, one of the frst
people he met was Latino, a physical education
teacher and future football coach also fresh
out of college. Latino’s family virtually adopt-
ed Giorgis, and the two remain close friends.
According to Latino, Giorgis’s success is rooted
in his intense work ethic. “He could’ve done
it at any sport he coached,” Latino says. “He
outworks everybody.” Bill Dahncke, anoth-
er close friend and colleague, remembers
approaching Giorgis outside the high school
teaching a group of neighborhood kids how
to dribble a soccer ball. “He was doing it as
intensely as you see him coaching the [Marist]
girls today.” For years, friends would get a kick
out of playing golf with Giorgis, who, according
to Dahncke, could make most bad golfers look
respectable. “But now we can’t laugh at him
anymore, because he got good at it. If he’s going
to do something, he puts everything into it.”
“As much as Brian loved to teach, he
was also a great learner,” says Judy Maher, a
guidance counselor who worked at Lourdes
throughout Giorgis’s entire tenure. One of his
foremost lessons came in a sermon given by
Father Michael Dibble. The sermon focused on
not taking things for granted, a lesson Giorgis
imparts to his players today.
“Is being down nine to Fairfeld in the
second half on the road as bad as some other
people have it?” Giorgis asked his team on Feb.
6 during a road game against the Stags, a game
which the Red Foxes would come back and win
54-52, by far their closest MAAC contest of the
season. His message carries substantial weight
because the veteran coach practices what he
preaches. He gets the team involved with char-
ity initiatives such as the Special Olympics,
Kids’ Day Out, and the Friends of Jaclyn
Foundation. On Feb. 18, Giorgis emotionally
expressed his appreciation for Rachele Fitz ’10
at a luncheon preceding her jersey retirement.
On March 7, following a 63-45 win over Loyola
to clinch Marist’s sixth consecutive MAAC title,
more tears fell from his eyes as he thanked his
players and fans.
For Giorgis, his gratitude for his positive
situation at Lourdes almost kept him from join-
ing Marist. During the 19 seasons he coached
the girls’ basketball team at Lourdes, he racked
up a whopping 451 wins and just 44 losses.
During his fnal season, his team ranked fourth
in a
USA Today
national poll. “It wasn’t until
the nun over there said, ‘Why don’t you try it?
If it doesn’t work, you’ll have your job back,’
that he was happy enough to come here,” says
Marist Director of Athletics Tim Murray.
In the end, Giorgis’s familiarity with the
Red Foxes may have brought him to Marist;
two of his former players, Kristin Keller ’05
and Maureen Magarity ’03/’05M, were already
on the roster. Latino remembers visiting the
McCann Center with Giorgis to watch his
former players. “We saw the empty bleachers,
the struggles,” Latino says. “I think Brian knew
he could do something about it.”
For the 2002-2003 campaign, Giorgis took
over a program that had just lost its fourth-
and ffth-leading scorers in program history to
graduation the prior year. Under Giorgis the
team improved its win total from 11 to 13.
The Red Foxes also earned their frst win in
a MAAC Tournament game in school history
with a frst-round triumph over Loyola.“We
joked during the frst year that he might lose
more games during his frst year than in his
high school career all together,” says Magarity.
The following season, the jokes ended.
After being picked to fnish seventh in the
conference, Marist won the MAAC title and
made its frst trip to the NCAA Tournament.
“Even though he had no college coaching expe-
rience, we knew it would be a matter of time,”
says Magarity, who played for Giorgis during
his frst two seasons at Marist. Upon gradu-
ation, she became an assistant coach for the
Red Foxes.
While it was apparent things were going
to change, no one could have assumed the role
women’s college basketball would soon play in
the community. Many of the fans who regularly
fll the McCann Center were loyal followers of
Giorgis’s success at Lourdes. “I’ve never played
in an atmosphere like this before,” says sopho-
more guard Leanne Ockenden. Even Giorgis
didn’t expect to make Marist women’s basket-
ball into a local phenomenon. “I guess you kind
of dream that stuff,” he says. “I just wanted to
try to make people better.”
In March the NCAA announced that Marist
was chosen the overall winner in the 2010-11
Marist’s recent dominance in theMAAC confer-
ence is undeniable. During this season’s quest,
the Red Foxes beat conference opponents by
well over 20 points per game en route to an
undefeated conference record, the second time
in Giorgis’s tenure that his team has won every
MAAC game in a season.
“He’s so analytical; it’s on a diferent 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.”