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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Former Bobcats coach speaks on leadership, motivation at Athletics Forum

“Dreams, kept in tender, tempted voice within / Gently held and heralded like family treasures found, Dreams / Heart’s music, chambered echo of nature’s featured struggle, composed and noted, Dreams…”

It is not often that a basketball coach recites poetry in front of an audience of athletes.

But that is exactly what former Charlotte Bobcats head coach Mike Dunlap did as he spoke at the second Guilford College Athletics Forum Sunday evening.

“Yes, I believe in dreams,” said Dunlap in response to a question from an audience member, senior football player Josh Williams.

Dunlap spoke for approximately an hour as part of a speaker’s forum reserved for Guilford student-athletes. The theme: leadership.

He explained four key points to becoming a good leader — a good work ethic, the willingness to sacrifice more pleasurable activities, the ability to deal with discouragement and the ability to handle outside influences.

Dunlap also warned of the side effects of leadership.

“Leadership is a lonely trail,” said Dunlap. “You will often have to make decisions that are unpopular.

“But how you react will be the measurement of your strength.”

Straying from the tradition of standing at the podium, Dunlap paced across the length of the room and prompted students to ask questions.

“It was neat how he interacted with the crowd and allowed questions throughout his speech,” said junior women’s basketball player Logan Hardin. “He really turned the speech into a two-way forum.”

Dunlap fielded a wide variety of questions, the topics ranging from personal obstacles to his coaching history.

“How do you motivate yourself?” asked senior runner Andris Goncarovs.

Dunlap responded with another question: “What motivates you — love or fear? … Fear of failure, or love of achievement?”

He continued, “Every day, I get up in the morning … and think of what I do not want to become … you must channel your fear into action.”

Every coach is paranoid about his job security, including Dunlap. He went on to discuss the role of fear in his coaching career.

“The hardest thing about coaching is knowing that at any second, you can be dismissed from your job,” he said. “And so, you have learn to let that fear go … and teach from your heart rather than your mind.”

The speech especially resonated with former Wake Forest University basketball head coach David Odom ‘65.

“The older that I have gotten the more I have come to appreciate and the more I have been intrigued by leadership,” Odom said. “We can see many leaders around the nation and everywhere they share similarities and qualities.

“Perhaps the most important trait that we can notice is their apparent lack of fearlessness — a topic that I think Dunlap explained very well.”

Senior football player Kevin Tiller expressed similar views.

“I thought it was very good, and he was very influential,” Tiller said.

Event attendees Zach and Jadon Fetrow also learned from the hour-long session.

“I learned it is not all about winning,” said nine-year old Zach.

“Relationships are more important than winning, and sometimes failure is okay,” said Jadon, who is 11.

Without stepping on the basketball court or even raising his voice, Dunlap perhaps made the greatest contribution to Guilford Athletics — inspiration.

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