Jay Bilas Kicks Off Guilford Athletics Leadership Forum

photo by John Bell

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GREENSBORO, N.C. – ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas addressed Guilford College’s student-athletes Sunday night in the Ragan-Brown Field House on campus. Bilas was the first speaker in Guilford’s new Athletics Leadership Forum.

A lawyer and former Duke University basketball player, Bilas is best known for his work at ESPN and for his over 386,000 Twitter followers. His spoke on the importance of concentration, preparation, and being a good teammate. He stressed how during a game or practice, an athlete must be completely focused, because for that short duration, the competition is the most important thing in their lives. He shared a lesson on concentration learned while roofing work with his father in California. After slipping off a ladder, his father said, “It doesn’t take one step to get to the top of the ladder, but it does take one step to get to the bottom.”

Bilas also emphasized the importance of approaching each practice as if it was a championship game and discussed the value of preparation in his broadcasting career. To play for championships, Bilas said individual team members must be willing to be a good teammate. He discussed holding each other accountable, knowing and playing roles, as well as being the kind of player with whom others want to play. Following his speech, Bilas took questions from the crowd, ranging from comparisons between Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, to overcoming adversity and responsible usage of Twitter.

The Guilford Athletics Leadership Forum is the brainchild of Guilford Athletics Hall of Famer and former college basketball coach Dave Odom ‘65. Modeled after the school’s successful Bryan Series which has attracted world leaders to Greensboro since 2002, Odom hopes to provide Guilford student-athletes instruction and encouragement from notable figures, especially those with ties to athletics. He started with his personal contacts to find speakers who are passionate about today’s youth and willing to spend some time at Guilford.  The speakers will focus on the value of leadership, decision making, overcoming adversity, and education.

Future speakers include former Miss North Carolina and nationally known humorist Jeanne Swanner Robertson, basketball star Nancy Lieberman and football coach Jim Caldwell.