Nov 21, 2012, 11:13 AM EDT
In many ways, tonight’s night’s game against George Washington will be just like any other for head coach Mike Brey. There will be the familiar game day shootaround and final walk-through preparations, pregame team meal and the quiet moments to reflect on the evening’s gameplan.
But in so many other ways, the contest against the Colonials will have a strikingly different feeling for the 13-year Irish mentor and Rockville, Md., native. Brey graduated from GW in 1982 and played one season (1981-82) for the Colonials after suiting up three seasons at Northwestern State in Natchitoches, La.
Brey holds a special place in his heart for the area more affectionately known as Foggy Bottom and for the school. His mother, Betty, once the world record holder in the 100-yard and 100-meter butterfly events and a member of the 1956 U.S. team at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, was the women’s swimming coach at GW. His father, Paul, a high school athletics director in Maryland, received his master’s degree from the University.
Perhaps, more importantly, GW is where he met his wife, the former Tish Schlapo, also a 1982 graduate and a standout volleyball player at the school. And just how special was their time at Foggy Bottom for Mike and Tish — back in August of 2009, Brey surprised his wife for their 25th anniversary with a weekend trip back to their alma mater.
The game not only will reunite Brey with GW, but it also will reconnect him with his friend of more than 30 years, Mike Lonergan, current head coach of the Colonials. Lonergan grew up in Bowie, Md. (same hometown as current Irish junior Jerian Grant) and attended high school at Archbishop Carroll in Washington, D.C. When GW hired his longtime friend a couple of years ago to take over the coaching reigns, no one was more excited for the future of the school’s basketball program under Lonergan’s leadership than Brey.
As always, this evening, Tish will be in attendance at the game along with Mike’s parents, Paul and Betty, who are spending the Thanksgiving holiday in South Bend. And while they all will be cheering loudly for the Irish, it will certainly be a night to remember fondly a school that played such a big part in all of their lives.
Bernie Cafarelli (’83) is Notre Dame’s media relations director and the sports information director for the men’s basketball team. Read more about Coach Brey in this spring 2010 feature from the GW alumni magazine.
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