GREENSBORO, N.C. – Basketball Hall of Famer, Olympic gold medalist, and Oklahoma City Thunder analyst Nancy Lieberman addressed Guilford College’s student-athletes Jan. 27 in the Ragan-Brown Field House on campus. Lieberman was the third speaker in Guilford’s new Athletics Leadership Forum. She addressed the nearly 400 students, illustrating leadership principles and life strategies with stories from her pioneering career.
Lieberman said she received over 100 recruiting letters from colleges, but she picked six-win Old Dominion University (ODU) because she wanted to build a tradition. She and six other freshman determined to take the upperclassmen’s jobs. As a senior in 1979, she played for ODU in the national championship at the Greensboro Coliseum. ODU trailed by 12 points at half. As she sat in the locker room, she had a mental battle with herself as to why she didn’t believe in her ability after all of the big-stage basketball she had played. After she convinced herself to just play her game and to not overcomplicate things, the Lady Monarchs went out in the second half and had a 22-point swing to win their second straight title by 10.
Lieberman claimed in order to find team success; members must put aside their differences at the time of the competition and align as one. She noted each player has a role on the team and success cannot happen until everyone handles their own business and accepts their role. Lieberman said she missed working the Lakers –Thunder game that afternoon because of her loyalty and friendship to Dave Odom ’65. “If you want a person to confide in you and count on you, then that’s what you do, you show up for them,” she said.
Lieberman also stated the importance of respecting everyone, but fearing no one; not only on the playing surface, but in every aspect of life. She said, to lead and experience success, one must believe in oneself before others can do likewise. Lieberman encouraged the student-athletes to be proud they went to Guilford and to represent the college with honor. She closed by saying, “Don’t let anyone tell you what you can or cannot be, and do you to the best of your ability.”
The Guilford Athletics Leadership Forum is the brainchild of Odom, a Guilford Athletics Hall of Famer and former college basketball coach. 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 passionate about today’s youth and willing to spend some time at Guilford. The speakers focus on the value of leadership, decision making, overcoming adversity, and education.
The final speaker of this year’s series will be Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell, who Odom met when the two coached at Wake Forest University.