“Ask how you can be there for someone who needs you,” says Matt Driscoll, who led the Ospreys to their first NCAA Tournament.
Drew Dixon Contributing writer
First Coast builders got a bigger pep talk than they expected from University of North Florida head basketball Coach Matt Driscoll at the Northeast Florida Builders Association Sales & Marketing Council breakfast in June.
Rather than taking to the podium and using the microphone, Driscoll, clad in an Ospreys basketball T-shirt, jumped right into the crowd of about 75 people sitting at tables in the UNF University Center meeting room.
His speech resembled a rally and a sermon.
“We’re not good listeners anymore,” Driscoll said in his best coaching holler. “The more we come back to that and understand that and really get a feel for what that means, with that, we can make a difference in people’s lives.”
Driscoll, NCAA Atlantic Sun Conference Coach of the Year for 2014-15, offered his criteria for success. Ultimately, Driscoll said, controlling hubris and arrogance is a key to advancing careers — and as a person.
“Ask how you can be there for someone who needs you. And because of that, you become successful. Because of that, you win championships. Because of that, whatever it is that you determine in your profession that makes you successful, it’s that simple thing of being humble. I came here not to be served, but to serve. That’s what it means,” Driscoll said while pacing back and forth.
Driscoll, who led the Ospreys to the NCAA tournament in 2015 for the first time, said those elements are not limited to sports, but universal to professions and life in general.
He said those elements can apply to any team in a company, any worker in a business and any setting where people are dependent on others working toward a goal that’s greater than the individual.
The crowd of mostly builders reacted to Driscoll’s energy with laughter and applause.
After the speech, Andrea Brown, a sales representative for Providence Homes, acknowledged she wasn’t sure what to expect from Driscoll.
“I was in the locker room,” Brown said with a chuckle. “It definitely got your heart beat going. But it hit home with everything.”
Brown admitted she initially was skeptical about the link between a basketball coach and a specific business group such as the builders association.
“I was like, ‘What is a basketball coach going to talk about?’” Brown said. “But if you think about it, if you don’t have marketing, you don’t have fans.”
Bill Garrison, Northeast Florida Builders Association executive officer, said Driscoll is skilled in branding, as most coaches have to be in the NCAA.
“It’s that energy and enthusiasm that he brings that pumps everybody up a little bit,” Garrison said.
“That’s the basketball coach in him,” he said. “The audience is like his players. You could almost see in him that he’d have that same sort of speech in his locker room or out on the court with his guys. We love that. That’s him being authentic.”
After the speech, Driscoll acknowledged marketing has become part of his character and responsibility as a college basketball coach.
“The older that I’ve gotten and the more that I’ve gotten into it, especially as a head coach, it’s amazing how branding, it’s amazing how making sure your product is out there (that helps)… not getting stuck in that old-school mentality, that they-know-who-I-am mentality,” Driscoll said.