Business, Sports & Gaming

Building Loyalty: The Nykesha Sales Story

Geno Auriemma

Lesson time 06:11 min

This story highlights an instance when Geno went out of his way to help an injured player and ultimately shows how the loyalty and respect that leaders demand from their teams must be reciprocated.

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Topics include: Building Loyalty: The Nykesha Sales Story


[UPBEAT MUSIC] - There's times when you're a leader when you think you're doing the exact right thing for all the right reasons, and then the rest of the world, exaggerating a little bit, tells you you're wrong. And we had this incident with our best player at the time, and it was Senior Night. And this kid, Nykesha, had a great career. It's her last home game. And she's going to break the school scoring record. And she never cared about stuff like this. But this game, she knew it. And in the first half-- she almost broke the record in the first half. Think she needed, like, 28. I think she got 20 in the first half. She knew what was going on. And she just, boom, 1 point shy in the second half. She goes up for a shot and tears her Achilles' tendon. No one near, nothing. Done. Senior Night, that's it, no NCAA tournament, nothing, finished. Well, we have one more game left at Villanova. Coach at Villanova is a good friend of mine. I picked up the phone, and I said, Harry, this isn't fair to this kid. Like, this-- this isn't right. This kid played 24 minutes a game. If she'd have played 30 minutes a game like everybody else, she might have scored 4,000 points, I don't know. I said, we've got to do something, right? He goes, yeah, you know I was just thinking about calling you. I said, how about we do this? We get the opening tap, you let us go down there, she's underneath the basket, she gets a bucket, OK, we call time out. You guys inbound, we get out of the way, you get your bucket. We start the game 2 to 2. What do you think? He's like, sounds good to me. We go down there. There's, like, 5,000 people in the stands. So we get the tap, throw it down there, she scores. The place goes wild. People are crying, you know. Even back home, people are watching on television. The next day, and the day after, and the day after, day after, the media world crucified the kid and crucified me for orchestrating a record. It was a UConn record. Nobody else, no other school, no national record-- it was a UConn record. And I had already called the kid that had the record and said, listen, this is what I'm going to do. But you got to understand why. Oh, no problem, coach. But now the rest of the world has to weigh in and crucify the kid. And I just-- that was probably one of the few times where I was belligerent with the media and just couldn't understand how seeing it in a real time made everyone. So emotional about how great it is, but then we got to read the next morning to no, we're idiots for thinking it was a great idea. A lot of relationships were broken that night, and I really got to see the dark side of how the media treats women's sports because those of you who watch sports, it's happened again in pro football, it's happened again in pro sports, where things like that have happened. And no one says a word. Why? Well, because it's men's sports. And see, that's why women's sports are the way they ...

About the Instructor

With 11 national college basketball championships and two Olympic gold medals, Geno Auriemma has coached some of basketball’s most iconic teams. Now he’s showing you how to build and lead any kind of team—at home, work, or in your community—and achieve sustainable success. Learn strategies for being an empathetic, resilient leader so you can inspire others to push past their own barriers and reach their highest potential.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Geno Auriemma

Legendary basketball coach Geno Auriemma teaches you how to lead any kind of team, inspire others to new heights, and build sustainable success.

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