January 24, 2014 — John Beilein, head coach of the University of Michigan men’s basketball team, recently shared his experience with Jesuit education as a student-athlete and coach and his deep love for Ignatian spirituality with Jesuit Dennis Baker of The Jesuit Post.
His first encounter with the Jesuits was as a student at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia. Beilein made up his mind to attend the Jesuit school and make the basketball team, based on influences from his uncle, Tom Niland, who was the first athletic director at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y., and his cousin who had attended Wheeling Jesuit on a scholarship.
“[The Jesuits] really had a great effect on me, and changed a lot of my outlook on life,” said Beilein of his education. “I went from being so small in my sight of what was really important in the world, to opening up…to looking at the whole thing from a much bigger perspective.”
Following in his uncle’s footsteps, Beilein started his career as a basketball coach at Le Moyne, staying there for nine years. From there he moved on to Canisius College, another Jesuit school, to coach there for five years. “I saw, between Le Moyne and Canisius, the magnitude of the graduates of those two places — in terms of what they do after they’re finished with their education,” said Beilein.
Beilein credits the impact of Jesuit schools with helping him develop a greater appreciation for Ignatian spirituality. “I read Loyola Press quite often. I get the Magis Center’s Daily Ignatian Reflection in my email, which I read every morning. I read Ignatian spirituality stuff all the time; the way St. Ignatius sort of put things together,” he said. “I do the Examen all the time during the season. That helps me put things into perspective — how grateful I should be for the life I’ve been blessed with.
“I rely on my Catholic faith quite a bit. I’m proud to admit that. Prayer is a consistent source of peace for me,” said Beilein. But he doesn’t just pray to win. Instead, he tries to see God’s presence in his life. “It’s about praying for wisdom in different situations that you have to handle. Or just for understanding and putting things into God’s hands.” [Source: The Jesuit Post]