"This is one of my favorite places to be in the world," said a beaming Jay Wright as he greeted EA Upper School students in Chapel.
The Villanova University basketball coach and EA dad (Reilly '17, Collin '12 , Taylor '11) said to those gathered, "Anytime my wife Patty and I get to come to EA and be a part of the incredible spirit is a great day for us."
Coach Wright spoke about one of his favorite topics, attitude. He explained he gets to coach a lot of "great guys" on his basketball team. "At Villanova, we want every guy to be the best basketball player he can be, the best student that he can be, and the best person he can be."
Over the last three years, Wight's Wildcats have been the number one seed in the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament. "We have been a number one seed, upset in the second round and criticized. We have won a National Championship where we were memorialized. And then we lost again as the number one seed, and we have been criticized."
Wright shared, "We tell our guys that regardless of what the world tells you, the greatest characteristic you can have is a great attitude. It's not about being smart, it's not about being fast, it's not about jumping high, it's not about being good looking. That's not the greatest characteristic. The greatest characteristic that you can have is a positive attitude."
Despite losses in the playoffs in 2015 and 2017, Wright explained, "In our program, those guys are legends. Because they all graduated on time, [were] good students, they're good men, good people, and they became the best that they can be."
The 2016 team won the National Championship, "and everyone told them how great they were," explained Wright. After the on-court celebration moved into the locker room, "We said, 'don't let this define you.' The world is going to tell you the greatest thing you have ever done is win a championship. But make sure you take from this what is good; your sacrifice, your character, your intelligence, unselfishness."
Wright told students, "Our team Chaplain always tells us, 'Don't let the world tell you what is right. The Bible tells you what is right.'"
In closing, Wright acknowledged students are competing for "grades, social status, athletically, followers on Twitter, where you go to college." He went on to encourage students by saying, "Evaluate yourself by what you know is good. Are you giving your best effort, are you a good son or daughter, good friend, a good person, and that is your attitude. Hold fast to the great attitude."
"If you hold onto a great attitude everyday and you remain humble and hungry to get better every day, that's good. It's not about what the world says. It's about what God says," observed Wright.
The Wright's daughter, senior Reilly Wright, introduced her father. She told classmates, "No matter how much success or attention he has received, he has always remained the same humble, hardworking, and loving dad I have always looked up to."
Click here to watch Coach Wright's Chapel speech in its entirety.