On Monday, sports analyst and legendary Division 1 Basketball Coach Mike Jarvis visited UMass Boston to share a chapter out of his book, Everybody Needs a Head Coach, about the importance of commitment in sports and in life.
Jarvis served as a Division 1 coach for 25 years and amassed a 648-351 overall record over his career. At Boston University he surpassed Rick Pitino as the winningest coach in Terrier history. He went on to lead George Washington University to their first NCAA appearance in 30 years, as well as lead St. John’s University to the Elite Eight and a Big East Championship.
Chancellor J. Keith Motley and Vice Chancellor for Athletics and Recreation, Special Projects and Programs Charlie Titus introduced Jarvis by sharing the impact he had on each of their lives.
Jarvis inspired Titus to be a coach at a time when most college basketball coaches were white males, he said.
“When you see something, you can believe it, and if you believe it, you can do it,” said Titus, who would go on to lead UMass Boston’s men’s basketball program for four decades.
Motley first met Jarvis when he was being recruited to play basketball at Northeastern University for Coach Jim Calhoun in 1973. Jarvis, Calhoun’s assistant, helped convince Motley to attend Northeastern after a successful basketball career at Peabody High School in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.
“(Jarvis) was the only person who had the nerve to tell me the truth,” Motley said. “Which was, ‘Listen, man. Basketball’s going to be over before you know it. … What’s going to happen when the air goes out of that ball? Who are you going to be?’”
Motley was ultimately inducted into the Northeastern University Hall of Fame as a player, coach, and advocate of the basketball program, and went on to serve as Assistant Dean of Minority Affairs, Associate Dean and Director of the African American Institute, and Dean of Student Services there.
Jarvis compared the community environment at UMass Boston to that of Northeastern at the time.
“You are in such an incredible place, full with incredible people who have been where you are and will know where you want to go, and are going to try to do everything they can to help you get there,” Jarvis told students. “Not everybody can say that. It’s a blessing that you have to work and work hard.”
He also met with the Student Athlete Advisory Committee before addressing more than 100 students in Clark Gymnasium.
“What kind of commitment are you ready to make to win the game of life?” Jarvis asked, sharing stories about his mother, who he considers his “first head coach” in that regard. “Are you committed to the University of Massachusetts Boston, who is committed to you? Are you committed to the Boston community that you live in? Are you committed to your team? Are you committed to yourself and your future?”
Students received signed copies of Everybody Needs a Head Coach, which includes a forward by Patrick Ewing, one of Jarvis’ former players at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. Jarvis said one of Ewing’s teachers first asked Jarvis to teach him basketball to help him meet other students after recently arriving from Jamaica.
“One of the greatest 50 basketball players of all time was exposed to the game of basketball to make friends,” Jarvis said. “Some of you may have come to the University of Massachusetts Boston with one thing in mind, but God may have an entirely different purpose for your life. You are here to prepare for the next phase of your life.”