Coach Pat Cunningham has more wins than any other coach in Tiger men's basketball history, having amassed a reord of 308-161 since taking over the program in 1999. He has led Trinity to seven SCAC Championships, and nine appearances in the NCAA Playoffs.
We asked Coach Cunningham ten questions in an effort to get to know him a little better.
How do you motivate your team?
A very good and interesting question as motivation is a very important factor in any athlete's or team's success. We try to do team goal-setting as part of our motivation to succeed. Also, it is important to try to promote a positive and engaging practice environment where players can work to get better. Motivation can also come from teammates and self. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of players to motivate themselves to improve, succeed, and work towards team success.
What are some of your pregame rituals?
Don’t really have any superstitions or rituals as such. I do like to get to the gym or take a long walk on days of games. This helps give me time to think through situations that the game at hand may present.
How did you get involved in sports? Or what sport did you play first as a kid?
Seems I’ve always enjoyed and partaken in sports. As a kid, I played baseball, basketball and football. In college, I played basketball and baseball. I also picked up a love for tennis and racquetball while in college. The one story I like to tell my team is that I have two really significant accomplishments in college basketball. One, I may be the only player to ever get voted “Most Improved Player” for his team TWO years in a row. As I say, how bad do you have to be to get that award twice? The other is that I was leading the NCAA Division 3 in Field Goal Percentage as a senior on February 1st. By the end of the month and the end of the season, I was nowhere to be seen in that statistical category! Like to poke fun at myself at times.
How do you like to travel to games?
My preference would be by chariot or limo. As those are rarely available...
I hate to travel. As I tell people, I moved from Chicago and coaching in the UAA where we traveled by plane every road weekend, to San Antonio and the SCAC where we traveled by plane almost every road weekend. How dumb am I?!? For a person hating to travel...
The only method of travel that is hard is 15 passenger vans, especially if you face any weather issues. I hate to drive back from a tough game late at night - more a safety concern than anything. If you have time, I’d love to tell any of the many travel stories over the past 30+ years of coaching.
Who is your favorite sports team/figure?
As an adult, I’m not really a huge sports fan, I just really enjoy watching and following at a slight distance. Growing up, and I’m still a Detroit fan (Lions, Tigers, Red Wings, Pistons). I also grew up a boxing fan and enjoyed the era of Muhammad Ali. When I was in Chicago for eight years, I enjoyed watching Cubs games live, and was there when Michael Jordan and the Bulls were huge. Now in San Antonio, I’m a big fan of the Spurs. I admire what that organization has done over the past 25+ years.
Let me come a different way, I hate maroon!! Eight years at Chicago, and 17 years at Trinity, and both our teams are maroon. It is such a hard color to be consistent (there are at least 2,000 variations of maroon!), and a hard color to match. That being said, I really don’t care much about colors. I am actually ecstatic that we now have maroon bleachers in our gym! It looks great. My second year here, I came in over a weekend and I painted my office walls blue - in protest of the Bell Center, which had nothing in it that was our school colors. Stayed that way until the past month when we finally changed the colors in the gym.
What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
Before I get into Education, I was a Political Science major and wanted to be a lawyer. My family tells me I love to argue, so maybe that would still work. Can’t really see myself being anything but a coach.
What sound do you love? The sound you hate?
I love the sound of the ocean or running water (waterfall/stream). Funny thing is I hate sand!! It’s too messy for me. Hate the feel of it. Ocean with grassy beach...aaahhhh.
What is your favorite word? Your least favorite word?
Favorite is DINNER, or LUNCH. I’m not a breakfast person. Least is NO or I CAN”T.
If you were reincarnated as some other plant or animal, what would it be?
Now my brain is hurting from thinking too much! Maybe a TIGER and I could come back as the Trinity Mascot. I’ve always admired eagles and their ability to soar - and they don’t need glasses!