Morra Uses Jay Bilas Coaches Leadership Program as Opportunity to Learn, Grow and Lead

By: Justin LafleurLehigh Sports Communications

Last month, Harry Morra was one of just 12 Division I men’s basketball assistant coaches who was selected for, and attended, this year’s Jay Bilas Coaches Leadership Program.

The program consisted of workshops and networking – and with it brought tremendous opportunities to learn, grow and lead.

The weekend saw different tiers of individuals taking part, with Morra among a dozen assistant coaches who were looking to learn from some high-profile names in attendance – like Jay Bilas, Steve Wojciechowski, Tommy Amaker and more.

Morra was invited through former Mountain Hawks’ associate head coach (and current Notre Dame assistant) Antony Wychewho took part in the program two years ago.

“You have to complete an application and you need a referral from somebody who has done it in the past,” said Morra.

The weekend featured a number of class sessions.

“They did media training with us and put us in front of cameras with an investigative journalist like Michelle Boudin,” said Morra. “She had a cameraman and a spotlight. That was fun, but also nerve racking. We talked about a lot of controversial topics in coaching, whether it be racism, lawsuits, sexual violence or domestic violence.

“They pulled a question out of a hat and you had to answer it on the spot,” Morra continued. “The journalist followed up… as soon as you fumbled on your words or said something that she thought was a little out of line, she dug deeper.”

There were also mock interviews with athletic directors.

“I was fortunate enough to interview in a mock format with athletic directors from Xavier and Belmont-Abbey,” said Morra. “They asked questions they would ask as they’re interviewing head coaches.”

Another part of the weekend was class sessions with current head coaches.

“They trained us how to succeed,” said Morra. “But the best part was they trained us on the things they failed at.

“You learned a lot.”

Speaking of learning, what was Morra’s biggest takeaway from the weekend?

“I learned to be confident in myself and know who I am,” said Morra. “In the Lehigh Athletics department, I will say a framework in our five pillars – self-awareness – was incredible preparation for this leadership development program. The first thing every guy said was know who you are and be who you are.

“When I hear that, I hear self-awareness.”

So… who is Harry Morrayou ask?

“I’m an optimist, first and foremost,” he said. “Generally speaking, I think positivity, but I try to counterbalance that with being a realist. I don’t always try to just walk in and be positive and optimistic where it can get fluffy and over the top.”

Another word to describe Morra is altruistic.

“I try to be a good person,” he said. “I try to help people. I try to keep other people at the forefront instead of focusing on myself. I try to do that through gratitude and try to think of other people as much as I can.

“There are a lot of emotions involved with optimism and there are a lot of emotions involved with helping other people because you get so attached to situations,” Morra continued. “Being realistic, you have to make tough decisions, so I try to counterbalance all that with just being stoic and trying to control what I can control, be patient and be courageous.”

Morra was inspired by the leadership weekend.

And consistent with who he is in helping people, there should be no surprise that when asked how the leadership program would help him moving forward, others were his focus.

Julie Ammary has built a leadership program here at Lehigh, and I’d like to get more involved in those concepts,” said Morra. “I’d like to do that with the staff, the younger assistant coaches, and help them learn about professional development , help them learn about networking, help them learn about the complexity of our careers and help give them a pathway to follow.

Morra also thinks about the student-athletes.

“I think about a very similar concept of media training, interviewing skills and difficult conversations,” he said. “Just a simple question of who are you? And then also helping them identify an identity outside of their sport I believe is very key.”
Harry Morra Jay Bilas Leadership Academy
It’s important to focus on the process of being great and the results will come.

“The most capable and most impressive people in our profession don’t really get fixated on being a great coach,” he said. “They get fixated on being really good at what they do and then everything else happens organically.”

A lot is happening at Lehigh, a place Morra has always loved and appreciated (he’s been in Bethlehem for almost a decade). But from talking with others at the Jay Bilas Coaches Leadership Program, it made Morra appreciate Lehigh even more.

“You’re there with 12 coaches and about 30 to 40 other people from other colleges, institutions and universities,” he said. “The things we have here at Lehigh – the philosophies we have here, the resources we have here – are special.

“We have a lot to be appreciative and grateful for.”

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