Mike Lonergan, B.A. 1988, was recently named head coach for men's basketball at The George Washington University. Lonergan brings to GW 18 years as a college head coach, with an overall record of 377-156, 15 winning seasons, and 13 NCAA tournament victories.
Cardinal fans know him as the coach who led CUA's men's basketball team to the 2001 Division III National Championship, the same year he was named the Division III consensus National Coach of the Year. Lonergan was head coach at CUA from 1992 to 2004, with an overall record of 251-88.
While a student at CUA, Lonergan was starting point guard and captain of the men's basketball team under Coach Jack Bruen.
Most recently, Lonergan was head coach at the University of Vermont for six seasons where he went 126-68 overall and 69-27 in the American East Conference, both tops in the conference during that time.
Lonergan was introduced to the GW community at a press conference on May 9. Many of his former Cardinal players, coaches, and support staff were there for the big announcement, including Bob Talbot, Steve Howes, and Franny Murray. He was also joined by his wife, Maggie, and his father, Jack.
Lonergan is a native of Bowie, Md., and a 1984 graduate of Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C.
"The opportunity to return the my roots in the Washington, D.C., area and build a program at an exceptional school like George Washington was too good to pass up," said Lonergan at the press conference.
Alumni Relations had a few questions for Mike Lonergan as he and his family prepared to move from Vermont back to Washington, D.C.
What did you learn from Coach Bruen that still influences you today?
I learned a lot about my coaching philosophy from Coach Bruen. He taught me that basketball was the same no matter what level and that stressing the fundamentals of the game was extremely important. Coach Bruen taught me that a team was like a family and that is how I feel about all my teams.
How did your time as a CUA basketball player and coach prepare you for the job at Vermont and now GW?
As a player, I was blessed to have a terrific coach in Jack Bruen, quality assistants, and a great group of teammates who are lifelong friends. As the coach at CUA, I had a great staff and only recruited true student athletes who were a joy to coach. During my 16 years as a player and coach at CUA I learned that hard work paid off.
What is your best memory of CUA's 2001 NCAA Division III National Championship?
It was so special to lead my alma mater to a national championship on St. Patrick's Day. It was especially gratifying because we did it the right way, with quality student athletes who were truly representative of the CUA student body. To see so many students, alumni, faculty, and staff make the trip to Salem was amazing!
You have 15 winning seasons to your credit. Can you tell us in a nutshell the secret to your success?
I think I am a tireless worker who was fortunate to grow up around, play for, and work for terrific coaches, including my mom, Jack Bruen, Morgan Wootten, Jim Phelan, Joe Gallagher, and Gary Williams.
Why is this your dream job?
The job at George Washington University is my dream job because I always wanted to return to the Washington, D.C. area and coach a high-level Division I program at a school with a strong academic reputation. When I was 26, the CUA job was my dream job because it was my first head coaching position and it was at my alma mater.
What is your best advice to CUA's young alums as they pursue their dream jobs?
Don't be afraid to set lofty goals and to have dreams. Many people told me I was crazy when I knew in 8th grade that I wanted to be a coach. I was also told I was too young at 26 to be the head coach at Catholic University. All the "doubters" just inspired me to work harder. I have been blessed to have many of my dreams come true. I am fortunate, not many people get to do what they love for a living. I definitely paid my dues, but it was all well worth it.