Building teamwork and character through basketball and cross country

Coach Jeremy Mayweather coaches the John Milledge Academy Cross Country team.

Building teamwork and character through basketball and cross country

F rom nationally-ranked college basketball star to head girls’ basketball and cross-country coach at John Milledge Academy, Jeremy Mayweather, ’08, knows the secrets to winning. 

He’s coached four years at Georgia College and now coaches high school basketball. He spent two years coaching girls and three years coaching boys. In the off season, he coaches cross country. 

Jeremy Mayweather, head girls basketball and cross-country coach at John Milledge Academy
Jeremy Mayweather, head girls basketball and cross-country coach at John Milledge Academy

Mayweather became familiar with Georgia College while attending their summer basketball camps during high school.  

“The summer camps are a great recruiting tool,” he said. “Since I came from a small town, Statham, Georgia, located outside of Athens, I really wanted that home and family feeling. Coach Terry Sellers, Coach Mark Gainous and Coach [Maurice] Mo Smith did a great job creating a strong family culture.”

His coaches taught him the most important skill of all. 

“I had to learn how to follow before I could learn how to lead,” he said. “I think that's one important leadership skill that sometimes gets lost in the process–learning how to submit and put yourself aside for the bigger purpose.”

Playing basketball taught him the spirit of teamwork and the value of spending time and getting to know people on a “genuine level.” 

“We had a phenomenal group of players,” he said. “Transferring to Georgia College from a junior college my junior year, we had a lot of guys who also transferred. So, we had to come together and find common ground to where we could coexist and communicate with each other. This experience allowed me to build that team mindset.”

Mayweather received the Peach Belt Conference Player of the Year and the All-Conference, All-Regional American Honorable Mention when he was a senior at Georgia College. But modestly, he feels like these recognitions should fall on the team. 

Jeremy Mayweather (#5) makes some awesome plays for the Georgia College basketball team.
Jeremy Mayweather (#5) makes some awesome plays for the Georgia College basketball team.

“It was a phenomenal experience,” Mayweather said. “I didn't necessarily look at them as individual awards, because I know any guy on my team deserved those same accolades because they worked just as hard. They went to class every day and carried themselves around campus with character.”

During Mayweather’s senior year, his team won the Peach Belt Conference Championship. He attributes the win to solidarity.

“We were a group of guys who genuinely cared about each other. And there was nothing we wouldn't do for each other on that basketball court,” he said. “It was truly a family atmosphere, from the head coach down to the manager. We just believed in ourselves and the coaches. Everybody sacrificed a part of themselves and their egos to make it work.” 

Mayweather’s mentors at Georgia College helped him reach his accomplishments.  

Coach Smith was like the big brother he never had. Mayweather could go to him about anything, and Smith would help him work through issues.

“He gave me a balanced perspective of college, basketball and life,” Mayweather said. “Once I found that, I was able to run with it.”

Coach Jimmy Wilson was the disciplinarian he needed. 

“Although the goal for the girls’ basketball team is to win championships, there's so much more beyond that. My goal is to develop strong, driven young women who can move forward and encourage them to overcome any obstacle that life may present.”
– Jeremy Mayweather

“If he saw me on the court, talking trash or showboating, Coach Wilson would pull me to the side and say, ‘You need to tighten up. This is not what we do,’” Mayweather said. 

And Dr. Mike Martino gave Mayweather a nugget of wisdom that would stick with him for the rest of his life. 

“He told me, ‘You're not successful, because you don't believe in yourself. It's not because you don't have the ability. It's because you don't believe in your ability,’” Mayweather said. “And that’s always stuck with me and has made sense throughout my life.” 

Mayweather models each one of these mentors daily.

“At the beginning or end of my practices, we always share a scripture,” he said. “We read it out loud and my players talk about how it impacts them, and what comes to mind when they first hear it.”  

Mayweather often talks to his students about discipline. He makes his players and runners aware of how they carry themselves, how they talk to each other, to foster an environment of respect and empathy.

Martino’s concept of believing in yourself spurred Mayweather to discuss this with his students.

“One thing that I'll always drive home to any kid that I coach is you’ve always got to believe in yourself,” he said.

“Although the goal for the girls’ basketball team is to win championships, there's so much more beyond that,” he said. “My goal is to develop strong, driven young women who can move forward and encourage them to overcome any obstacle that life may present.”

“In cross-country, each kid has their own personal goals and battles,” said Mayweather. “My number one goal is to encourage them to find a way to overcome adversity.”

The best part of his job is knowing he has touched the lives of his students.

“It’s working with the kids,” Mayweather said. “Each day, I get an opportunity to impact kids in a positive light. That’s something I've always enjoyed.”

Mayweather continually teaches his students to achieve their goals.

“In cross country, it’s challenging when you're out here running the trail, and you want to stop,” he said. “Throughout life, there are going to be times when you just want to stop. But you can't, you have to keep going. So just to develop that the mindset of ‘I won't give up. I'll keep pushing through.’”