It’s no secret that Coach John Calipari is one of the truly great motivators in all of sports.
Nobody prepares a team quite like Cal, especially one that's short on experience and full of expectations. This year's team is no different as a freshman-dominated roster will once again be asked to perform on college basketball's biggest stage.
But when things get tough this year (and they will), who will the Hall of Fame Coach turn to for support and inspiration?
At least one positive influence for Coach Cal has been an ongoing friendship with Jon Gordon, a popular speaker and bestselling author of The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy.
Published in 2007, the book has received high praise from both Calipari and former UK big man Willie Cauley-Stein, who discovered the principles of The Energy Bus as part of a team book study while at UK.
On Monday, Gordon confirmed that he maintains regular communications with Coach Calipari, but could not share specific conversations to protect confidentiality.
“I don’t want to violate Coach Cal’s trust…(but) you can say we definitely keep in touch,” said Gordon.
Many of Gordon’s books, including Training Camp, You Win In The Locker Room First and The Hard Hat, provide the perfect blueprint for team building throughout the season. His most recent book, The Power of Positive Leadership, also fits into the mold of creating team success by "feeding the positive dog" and avoiding "energy vampires."
Gordon has worked with numerous professional sports teams, including the Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Dodgers, and is a frequent speaker for Clemson Football Coach Dabo Swinney and the defending national champions.
Like Swinney, Coach Calipari prides himself on servant leadership which is a popular theme throughout Gordon's books. Recently, the UK basketball team hosted "Team Up For Harvey" which generated $1 million for those impacted by Hurricane Harvey in Houston.
“What makes him (Coach Calipari) special is the way he develops relationships with his players," said Gordon. "They know he really cares about them and loves them. It’s not an act. That’s who he really is.”
Gordon also follows UK football and watched Saturday night's heartbreaking loss to Florida at Kroger Field. While he's never been on the UK campus to work with student-athletes, he's already made a huge impact within the basketball program. He could have that same impact across all UK athletic programs with an invitation to Lexington.
Let's make it happen Mitch Barnhart.
Subscribe to Jon Gordon’s free weekly newsletter.
Great speaking to the Dodgers today! Loved meeting the manager Dave Roberts. What a guy! pic.twitter.com/iff57i9Yno— Jon Gordon (@JonGordon11) March 9, 2016