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    Coaching Wisdom

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    With a newborn daughter and a new job, Mike Harrity, the university's associate athletics director for student-athlete development and community programming, amazingly also found time to finish writing a book.

    Coaching Wisdom: Champion Coaches and Their Players Share Successful Leadership Principles was published in late February and is available now.

    Harrity, who joined the Notre Dame family in Dec. 2011 after spending six years at Kansas, spoke with 13 coaches who have combined to lead their teams to an unbelievable 103 national championships, Stanley Cups or Super Bowl titles.

    Brad Stevens, who wrote the foreword for Harrity's book, is the only coach featured who has not won a title, but the 35-year-old is one of the most promising young coaches in college basketball, having led Butler to back-to-back Final Fours and championship game appearances.

    Although "Coaching Wisdom" is based on firsthand interviews with coaches and their players, Harrity explained that it is about more than athletics. "This isn't a book about sports. It's a book for anyone who is a leader - of a family, a school, an organization, or a team," he says.

    "I have a passion for exploring how leaders are able to create a culture that leads to achieving sustainable success. After spending time with the 13 coaches, from a broad range of sports, and their former players, I discovered common themes that emerged strongly. Each theme is represented by the chapters in the book."

    These chapters include Creating a Caring Environment, Communicating Effectively, Keep it Simple, Building Team-First Unity, Motivating and Inspiring Your Team, and Finding Your X-Factor.

    One of Harrity's remarkable discoveries in speaking with these coaches and their players was that in each case, the players' experience and what they valued had mirrored exactly what the coach had intended of his or her team.

    The book began as an idea in spring 2004, when Harrity went out on a limb and wrote to basketball legend John Wooden. Originally, Harrity planned to focus the project on the former UCLA coach, but within the last couple years, it evolved to include other collegiate and professional coaches from across several sports.

    Wooden responded to Harrity's letter, gave him his home phone number, and the two soon set up a meeting at Wooden's home in California. Harrity explains that he asked Coach Wooden for an hour and a half of his time, and ended up spending the entire day with the 93-year-old ten-time NCAA champion.

    Like many, Harrity had heard stories and read books about Wooden's leadership and the many lives he had impacted off the court. Still, he was struck by just how welcoming, friendly and helpful the coaching legend was to him, a total stranger.

    "He had more energy than me," Harrity says. "We developed a strong friendship. He really wanted to help me achieve my goals and dreams."

    Among those that Harrity interviewed were nine-time Stanley Cup champion Scotty Bowman, two-time Super Bowl winner Don Shula, 21-time NCAA champion women's soccer coach Anson Dorrance, and Notre Dame football legend Lou Holtz, who wrote the book's preface.

    It has been an incredibly rewarding process for Harrity. Of all the coaches he contacted hoping to interview, not a single one declined his request for a meeting.

    "I have been continually amazed at how generous all of the coaches and their former players have been with sharing their time and wisdom. Many have become friends. But even if I only sell one copy to my wife and one copy to my parents, I'm a better man, husband and father having had the opportunity to learn from and spend time with some of the greatest leaders of our time."

    You can purchase Harrity's book on Amazon.com and soon, at the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

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