New Coach, New Philosophy, New Team
For Mount St. Mary's University Men’s Basketball Coach Jamion Christian, opportunities to grow and develop his players as well-rounded individuals, not just athletes, exist on and off the basketball court.
Since arriving at the Mount earlier this year, Christian, a 2004 graduate of the Mount, has instilled an up-tempo style of play for the team on the court. But away from Knott Arena, he is dedicated to developing his student-athletes as better persons.
“Competing to improve means that we want to take advantage of each day, each drill and each game,” said Christian, a three-year captain while at the Mount. “I want our team to leave nothing to chance and to capitalize on every possible opportunity.”
In the off-season, Christian worked with two campus offices to provide outreach experiences for the team — with each providing a specific objective in his coaching philosophy.
Before the season kicked off, the team partnered with the Mount’s Office of Social Justice to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity in Frederick, Maryland. All of the team members and Coach Christian worked together with Habitat employees and families on the construction of two homes in Frederick. They built walls, broke up old concrete sidewalks and helped cleaning-up the worksites. It was an experience senior guard Oliver Brown described as “not only a fun way to have a good time with teammates, but to feel really good knowing we did something special for someone else.”
“As a Division I basketball program, we are given a lot of opportunities,” said Christian. “Yet I have always felt we should always give more than we receive. Habitat for Humanity allowed us a platform for our group to assist those less fortunate and we were appreciative of the opportunity they provided us.”
With the help of the Mount’s nationally recognized Outdoor Adventures program, the team participated in a weekend backpacking expedition through the wilds of West Virginia — admittedly, something outside the comfort zone of many players.
For Christian, an assistant coach at Virginia Commonwealth last season who helped guide the Rams to the third round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament, there was a clear objective in the expedition.
“I want our players comfortable being uncomfortable, because that is where they will grow the most as people, and I know that growth is something that will benefit each member of our program,” Christian said.
Junior guard Josh Castellanos believes these challenges have been beneficial and motivational to the team.
“Coach Christian has taken everyone out of their comfort zone, and we are becoming closer and more familiar with that feeling,” said Castellanos. “We are learning how to handle situations when we face them and I think this philosophy will help us on and off the court. I am excited for the new season with the team. We have been working extremely hard and we have high expectations for this upcoming season.“