For all the physical gifts Greg Nared was blessed with, it is his mental approach to life and its intricacies that have made him special.
A big-time, true-life success story from Wilmington, Nared spoke recently with members of the Wilmington High School virtual Leadership Academy.
WHS football coach Scott Killen has hosted the Leadership Academy “about a year ago,” but with COVID-19 and the ensuring stay-at-home order shutting down schools, Killen took the Leadership Academy to Zoom.
Nared, who currently lives in Texas and works for the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, was a five-time All-Ohio athlete in football and basketball while at WHS. He graduated in 1985. He was inducted into the Clinton County Sports Hall of Fame in its inaugural class in 1997.
“My amazing journey started in Wilmington,” said Nared. “I would not be the person I am today … the success I’ve had is because of the mentors I had in Wilmington.”
His mother Audrey was first on the list of influences. Nared then said former WHS coach and teacher Mike Halley, former WHS coach, teacher and administrator Fred Summers and former WHS teacher Jane Petty all were instrumental in keeping Nared on the right path in life.
Nared left WHS and played basketball at the University of Maryland, earning a scholarship from head coach Lefty Driessell. But after one season at Maryland, Nared was playing for a new head coach, Bob Wade. Driessell moved into an administrative role.
“My freshman year I go from a coach who wanted me there but gets let go and another coach comes in,” said Nared.
Nared said going from Driessell to Wade was more than just a change in Xs and Os.
“The next two years of my life were miserable,” he said. “Coach Wade rode me, cussed me. I could have said I’m out. The second year I could have cussed back at him. I could have disrespected him. I could have said you may be trying to kick me out. You could be trying to make me transfer but I’m not going to do that. You can’t get in my head.”
Nared’s mental toughness and faith allowed him to remain strong and as a senior he started at point guard and helped the Terrapins earn a berth to the NCAA tournament.
“I could have left Maryland after my freshman year and went anywhere … went to Ohio State to play football,” said Nared. “But I was committed (to Maryland). It was instilled in me early in my life about character and loyalty.”
Following his career at Maryland, Nared applied for a job with international sports giant Nike. After being hired by Nike, Nared learned one of the highest recommendation’s he received for the job was from Wade.
Nared talked with the Leadership Academy members about several other topics:
• Nared said he uses the acronym CRAFT — Character, Respect, Athlete, Fairness, Teamwork — to live his daily life. With that, Nared says what you do in private reflects on your true character; if a coach tells you to do something, do it and don’t question it; be mindful of what goes in to your mind and body; treat people like you want to be treated; if you cheat in the weight room you are only cheating your teammates; and take ownership of your mistakes, don’t blame others.
• Nared recalled a WHS football game his freshman season. At 6-4, 145 pounds, Nared called himself “a 6-4 stick.” He was at quarterback and was continually getting hit in the backfield on “the blind side six or seven times that game.”
In the locker-room at halftime, Nared told coach Halley “I’m done with football.” After all, Nared recalled, “I had visions of playing professional basketball.”
Halley’s response resonates with Nared today.
“He said (quitting) that’s selfish,” said Nared. “I’m crying. I’m balling. I’m beat up. I said I can’t take getting hit like this. He (Halley) said don’t worry about that. We’ll take care of that as coaches. But if you quit now, you’ll quit in life. From that conversation I stayed on the team and the rest is history.
• Nared has been with the Mavericks for six years now. He is the Senior Vice President of Player Relations, Gaming and Youth Basketball.
• Specialization is not the key to success, nor a college scholarship.
“Having a second sport is OK,” said Nared who earned 10 varsity letters in four sports while at WHS. “I tell young, elite athletes to play a second sport, use different muscles in your body.”
Nared could have gone to Ohio State to play football — he’d given a verbal commitment to play there — but decided in the last hour to play basketball at Maryland, a decision he has no regrets about.
“Whatever you do, follow your passion,” he said. “Whatever it is in your life, whatever you do after high school and college, if you love what you do, you’ll enjoy going to work every day.”
• Nared said having coaches like Killen “who care about the players on the field, off the field, on the court, off the court” is very beneficial.
“I’ve been around the world and to get a coach who genuinely cares about your (the student-athlete) next chapter, your next journey in life is really special.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @wnjsports