SPORTS BLOG – THE WEEK THAT WAS
The Week That Was (TWTW) sat down with Kevin Giblin, world history teacher and first-year O'Connell head boys varsity lacrosse coach, to learn more about him, the lacrosse team this year and the program's plans for the future.
TWTW: This is your first year at O'Connell. Can you tell us a little more about your background as an educator and lacrosse coach?
Coach Giblin: I have been in Catholic schools in Maryland as a teacher or administrator for 30 years. I have my master's in secondary education from Trinity College and a B.A. in American History Studies from Washington College. As a coach, I headed up the Georgetown Prep varsity lacrosse program for 27 years and have coached at St. Albans and Georgetown University among others.
I consider myself an educator whether in the classroom or on the field. It is paramount to teach character as well as excellence. My faith life is central to me and though I am imperfect in doing it, I try to share that level of commitment with the young people in my life. The way we live, the choices we make - equals who we are.
In the classroom, I undergird this by requesting each student write at the top of their classwork five pillars of life:
1.Practice daily faith
2.Respect for self and others
3.An active concern for others
4.Strive for excellence in all you do
I do my best to give the students my best, and in return I expect them to do the same and support them in their efforts.
This model applies to our lacrosse players as well. I have always liked the teacher/coach model and I strive to inspire them to have their priorities right - faith, family, academics, and lacrosse.
TWTW: How does your faith guide you in coaching?
Coach Giblin: It cannot be separate - living your faith is a full time thing. Not only something to do on Sundays. I try to attend daily Mass. This is who I am - I try to be a good role model but in that, self-awareness is important. I learned a long time ago, the difference between sinners and saints is - saints do not give up.
We start every practice with a decade of the Rosary and offer intentions and prayers for our families. I try to have faith guide me in all my decisions. I want to be a good husband, father, teacher and coach. I do my best to practice it well, but often fail. I know I can be tough in both the classroom and on the field, but I have a soft spot for these kids.
TWTW: So your first season coaching at O'Connell is almost complete, can you share some highlights?
Coach Giblin: Well we really had a couple of big wins. Of course, the DeMatha win was tremendous. A first in OC lacrosse history; I am so proud of the team and staff. They really dug in to win that. The Heights was another good win and when we played Blue Ridge it was a soaking mess, but the team did not give up and overcame adversity to win.
Though we lost to Collegiate, this was a turning point in the season. These kids could have easily thrown in the towel. Not so. They played their hearts out and showed they have become competitors. This will serve them well in life. "Many talk, few do," we often say. The team showed resolve during this game. The coaching staff and I saw all the hard work that these boys put into the season pay off in their competitive spirit.
TWTW: What could the team have done different this season?
Coach Giblin: I am little disappointed in my coaching. I have to do a better job. We left some wins on the table and this reflected on the staff. When I came here, I think I took some of the foundational things for granted. Going forward, we will continue to focus on the little things more. Sometimes I think they have that piece (of lacrosse I.Q.) and then I realize that they did not fully understand the concept. I need(ed) to revisit foundational concepts. This is a tenant of how I view my classes (good teachers teach and reteach the foundations). I will do my best to prevent this in the future. Each year is a new start, but we will continue to build this team into a strong entity with an exceptional I.Q. At some point, each of the players have that moment when they know that they get it. Then they understand the simplicity of the game.
TWTW: What have you learned about yourself and the team?
Coach Giblin: I think this team has answered every challenge this staff has asked of them and then some. There was a big learning curve for them. My coaching system is different from others as well as the terminology. New players, new coach, new system. It has been challenging - but this team has proven - they are all in. They have become competitors on a higher level than I think they even knew they could. They have all improved immensely.
When I first came here, I was not sure what to expect from this community either. I was the new person and I have to say the lacrosse community - the parents - have all been supportive. The program will continue to need support from the families and parents because we hope to build a championship program. We will be very demanding of the players in the program. This staff will be fair, but we will expect every choice a player makes in the classroom, on the field, in practice, to represent the school and the community in a positive way. This staff will do anything for these kids. If they need recommendations/letters/phone calls, advocacy - I will be the first to do this.
TWTW: What changes have you seen in the team?
Coach Giblin: I think the guys are finally learning to separate who they are from what they are doing on the field. A good educator, indeed a good coach, judges performance based on skill sets and abilities. That judgement is not about players' character, but their skills. It is not personal. It is our expectation to make them the best they can be. They are starting to understand that concept. We do our best to put kids in positions to be successful.
TWTW: Can you tell us about any of your top team members?
Coach Giblin: Without question that would be my team captains, seniors Gabriel Turrisi (defense), Kadin Kightlinger (middie) and Jake Hahn (goalie). They are a special group of guys. They are excellent leaders and each of them has been able to reach into their teammates and inspire them as well. They have had three head coaches in a four-year span. These seniors have committed themselves to a cause with very little mentoring. In fact, I can say this about all of the seniors, including Thomas Natal, Danny Metzmaier and Brandon Ley. Each and every one of them has my utmost respect for their efforts. I am going to miss them all and appreciate their dedication to this team and season.
TWTW: What are some of your short- and longer-term goals for this program?
Coach Giblin: The first time I ever met with the lacrosse families last summer, I asked what other Catholic schools students go to in Northern Virginia. When I heard the answer, I wondered why? Why would anyone ever choose another Catholic high school for academics or lacrosse? Bishop O'Connell should be the destination of choice for an excellent education rooted in the life of Christ. It will be my personal goal to make this school the first choice for all quality student/lacrosse players.
Talented student-athletes are already showing their interest in our program. We are going to continue to work at getting bigger, stronger and larger as a team. We want to build a program that can sustain a top level of success. As we develop the program, the top players of quality and character will want to come. In addition, I think it is important to field freshman, JV and varsity teams. It builds size and depth in the program. We will be starting Club Blue Lacrosse here in Northern Virginia for middle-schoolers to help young players get to know the mission, values and commitment to excellence of Bishop O'Connell and our lacrosse program.
TWTW: Thanks for your time Coach Giblin. Is there anything else?
Coach Giblin: I just wanted to say that my commitment to these kids and this program is sincere. It is an absolute privilege to coach this team. This season has reminded me why coaching is so rewarding. The wins and losses are what they are; it is the relationships that are formed between players and coaches during competition, which creates bonds for life. Few things are more rewarding for the players and coaches.