“Lady Magic” enchants Guilford athletes

Student-athletes, coaches and administrators gathered in the Alumni Gym on Jan. 27 to welcome Hall of Famer, former WNBA player, Olympian and current studio analyst for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Nancy Lieberman, aka “Lady Magic.”

“I wanted speakers that really care about young people,” said Dave Odom ‘61, former Wake Forest and University of South Carolina head basketball coach and creator of the Guilford Athletic Leadership Forum.

Odom, inspired by the Bryan Series, wanted to provide Guilford student-athletes with opportunities for leadership development.

After placing four phone calls to different speakers, all four expressed immediate interest in participating in this unique program.

Odom’s ultimate hope is that the events will inspire leadership both in the classroom and on the playing field.

Nancy Lieberman was the third speaker in a series of four.

“All of these speakers have been successful in their own professions,” said Odom.

Lieberman spoke of an interview with Muhammad Ali that she watched as an eight-year-old, naming it as her inspiration to become the greatest of all time.

“Improving the ‘me’ in order to improve the ‘we,’ is the key to success,”said Lieberman. She encouraged players to train their hardest to be the best possible, which in turn improves the team as a whole.

Lieberman described riding the Subway to Rucker’s Park as a youth to play with the top basketball players in Harlem, New York.

To establish herself as welcome, Lieberman asked one of the court’s veterans, “Is your name Rucker? No? Good. Then it’s not your park, and I want to play.”

Lieberman used this as an example to show how important it is to believe in yourself and to not let anyone ever tell you that you cannot do something.

Head Women’s Basketball Coach Stephanie Flamini said that this was one of the most important parts of the speech for her.

“Believing in oneself is a biggie for me,” Flamini said. “Players have to believe in themselves first and foremost.”

“We are very fortunate,” Flamini continued. “Having these high quality speakers come and talk is something our student-athletes will never forget and (is) an opportunity no other school in the ODAC has.”

Senior Ben Nelson, captain of the Guilford men’s tennis team, found Nancy Lieberman’s advice helpful.

He referenced Lieberman’s point about self-improvement to better the team.

“She talked about her college basketball career, making it her mission to beat out the starters,” Nelson said. “You can always be the better player.”

Lieberman said, “I saw the future. It was very moving to me,” and advised college students not to complicate relationships or life and to enjoy their time at school.

She described college as the best time of one’s life and advised enjoying the time spent on campus.

“Looking back on this experience, we should all smile,” Lieberman said. “You have to show up for people, but also in life.”