Meet Brian Gregory of Buckhead, head coach of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket basketball team, entering his 14th season. Gregory’s first season saw Tech score victories over a pair of NCAA Tournament teams in VCU and NC State, both away from home, and defeat Georgia in Athens for the program’s first victory there in 35 years. The Yellow Jackets demonstrated significant improvement in year two with a winning record (16-15), three road victories in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and two wins over teams ranked among the top 30 in the RPI – Saint Mary’s and ACC Champion Miami. Tech also scored a victory over rival Georgia for the second straight year, something that hasn’t been done since the early 1990s, and the win at Miami was Tech’s first win on the road over a top-10 team since 2004.
SGC What does the upcoming season look like for Tech?
BG Everyone in our program is very excited about the upcoming season. Our first recruiting class players are now seniors and will provide the experience and leadership needed to take the next step in our rebuilding process. We also have some new players that will make an immediate, positive impact.
SGC How much of your half time pep talks are on the fly and how do you write them?
BG How you address your team at halftime is usually determined by situation and score. You want to be clear and concise on what your team is doing well, where they need to improve and explain any game plan adjustments. I always evaluate if we are playing with great energy, effort and discipline. As a coach, you really only have five minutes to both instruct and inspire, deciding on your key points is very important.
SGC What advice do you have for parents who want their kids to play sports?
BG I truly believe that sports can act as a tremendous learning experience in the overall educational process of our sons and daughters. If our main mission in youth sports is to build great young men and women, I don’t believe you will compromise the objective of athletic excellence in the process. I always give these two pieces of advice to parents regarding their children and sports. I know this is getting more difficult to do, but the more sports your kids play, the better athlete they will become. If they play multiple sports growing up, they will have a greater growth potential once they pick a specific sport to concentrate on. Second, as much as we love our children and want to be there for them in tough times, letting them learn how to fight through adversity and grow from disappointment is a valuable lesson all athletics can teach. Resiliency is a key character concept in helping young athletes reach their full potential.
SGC Back to the Yellow Jackets – Do you have an allegiance from past grads and players who have succeeded, like Chris Bosh and Kenny Anderson?
BG When we came to Georgia Tech four years ago, one of our main objectives was to reconnect with our former players. They all have special memories of their times here on “The Flats.” Getting them involved and supportive again has had a tremendous impact on our program. We have had Chris Bosh back for a home game and Kenny Anderson is 2-0 watching us play at Miami. It’s such a positive to know that at many practices and all the games, our former players will be in attendance giving back to their program.
SGC How do you help players balance their rigorous academic demands with aggressive training and season schedules?
BG To be successful at this level, at an institution like Georgia Tech, you must be a true Student-Athlete. Efficiency and time management skills are so important in balancing the level of excellence we want our guys to achieve in the classroom and on the court. I want our players to understand and embrace the fact that the athletic gifts they have been blessed with have created an opportunity to earn a degree that will positively impact the rest of their lives.
SGC Tell us about your family and what do you like most about living in Buckhead?
BG My wife, Yvette, and my two daughters, Isabella and Elyse, are a true blessing. Being a coach’s wife is not easy. There is no doubt that Yvette’s strength and faith act as the rock of our family. I am just amazed on a daily basis at the growth of my daughters. They are both very special in their own unique way. The move to Buckhead has been fantastic. Obviously there is so much to do with great restaurants, shopping and entertainment. However, like so many other things in life, it has been about the relationships we have developed with new friends and neighbors that have made our new home a great home.