Yes, last season, Wright State won a surprising 25 games, the Horizon League title and got the automatic berth before losing to co-SEC champ Tennessee in the first round of the NCAA tournament last March.
Now, it’s time to do the right thing off the court.
Nagy is keeping his word to take his team on a humanitarian mission in August 4-10. This is the second time the coach has done this in his career, the first when he was at South Dakota State.
No basketball. Nope. Nothing to do with the sport.
This is about life, learning and trying to do right by others by helping to make the world a better place.
The plan was to go to Haiti on behalf of Samaritan’s Feet, an organization that literally puts shoes on people around the globe and one that a number of coaches, notably Georgia State’s Ron Hunter, have embraced by coaching barefoot for one game every winter. Samaritan’s Feet has volunteers wash the feet of its recipients and gives them shoes to wear.
Nagy and his wife Jamie adopted Naika from a Port-au-Prince orphanage as a toddler. Naika, now 15, was going to meet her birth mother. They were bringing one of their other five children, daughter Natalie, as well.
But on July 9, the U.S. government issued an alert to reconsider traveling to Haiti due to crime and civil unrest.
Nagy had to consider the safety of everyone involved on the trip. But canceling it all together wasn’t an option.
So the plan is now to go to the Dominican Republic and visit with Haitians who have been displaced on the other side of Hispaniola Island.
"We had to make a quick decision. We couldn't take our team there now. It's the same Island so we have a chance to work with the Haitian community in the Dominican now.
“I wanted to do this trip every four years, a trip like this,’’ said Nagy, who did a similar trip with his Jackrabbits team five years ago. “We will get a chance to work with the Haitian community in the Dominican. There will be areas without a lot of running water, things that our kids don’t understand or take for granted. This will be good for our kids. We will be doing shoe distribution, washing their feet and giving them all a brand new pair of shoes. I’m hoping I can still take Naika and Natalie next spring to Haiti.’’
Nagy emphasized that this is still basketball-related in the sense that it is a trip about developing the person.
He said the players, eight of the 11 on the team will be going as well as the staff and other members of the athletic department, will get a shock to their system.
“You don’t see poverty at that level,’’ said Nagy. “You get impacted more than you think you will. So that next year, when you’re going through a three-game losing streak or they’re feeling sorry for themselves we can remind them that it’s not the bad.’’
Nagy said the support for the trip has come from fundraising, including a local church in Dayton that he has partnered up with since he arrived and started working with Samaritan’s Feet.
Nagy has done basketball clinics while working with the organization in Africa as well where he says “they’re having clinics on asphalt in bare feet. It’s unbelievable.’’
Nagy, about to enter his third season at Wright State after being named the Horizon League coach of the year last spring, said that it was unexpected for his team to win 25 games.
“We were ahead of schedule,’’ said Nagy. “But (former coach) Billy Donlon did things here that helped a lot with the culture. We weren’t very far. We will have as talented a group as I have coached. We’re counting on the young guys and veteran players to be very good.’’
Nagy said developing the whole person, something seen recently with Davidson’s Bob McKillop taking his team to Auschwitz earlier this month for an educational/non-basketball experience, is imperative.
“There is such great interest in Division I that it creates opportunities for these kids that wouldn’t be there otherwise,’’ said Nagy. “It affords us to do things like this that can impact the rest of their lives. I keep telling them that basketball will end soon. You want to win, but we wouldn’t be doing our job if we weren’t preparing them for life after basketball.’’