There was only one time that Mike Lonergan, a Bowie native, showed emotion when he was after six seasons at Vermont.
It came when he was talking about his late mother, Maureen, who died in 1995. "I wish she was here," said Lonergan, stopping to collect his thoughts before several media members and GW boosters May 9 at the Smith Center at the Foggy Bottom campus.
His mother was a softball and soccer coach and athletic director at Elizabeth Seton, an all-girls Catholic school just off Annapolis Road in Bladensburg. His father, Jack, told Patch on Wednesday that he played on the Holy Cross baseball team that won the College World Series in 1952.
"We used to play catch in the yard," Jack Lonergan, whose family moved to Bowie in the 1960s, said of him and his wife. He said his wife played softball and basketball for an insurance company in a league in Connecticut before the family moved to Bowie.
Mike Lonergan said the best coach in the family may be his wife, Maggie, who was the women's basketball coach at Catholic University at the same time Mike was the men's coach.
Mike, the youngest of six children, grew up in Traymore Lane in Bowie. He and Maggie Lonergan, as she told Patch, lived in another home in Bowie while they were coaching at Catholic. Lonergan's father, Jack, lives in Bowie and so does three of his four sisters: Patty Garcia, Betty Ann Higgins and Margie Lonergan. A fourth daughter, Susan Palmer, lives in Frederick County. Mike's only brother, John, is a judge in California, their father told Patch.
Mike and John attended Archbishop Carroll in The District while all four sisters attended Elizabeth Seton. Jack Lonergan said his late wife began a 20-year tenure at Elizabeth Seton in the mid 1970s by teaching a physical education course. At one point he said she had two of her daughters on the soccer team at the school. The children attended in Bowie before heading to high school.
Mike Lonergan, who played and coached at Catholic University, was an assistant for one season at Maryland under before he got the head job at Vermont in 2005. He said his wife got the itch to coach while in Vermont and she was a high school assistant coach for a team that won a state title.
Steve Howes, the current head men's basketball coach at Catholic University, played for the Division III school under Lonergan after Howes transferred from Frostburg. "He was the driving force behind that," Howes said of the transfer to Catholic. "My father and I went to see him. Just his energy and passion. His drive really caught me. Hey, this is a guy I want to play for."
"I owe him a tremendous amount," added Howes, who attended the press conference at GW and also the one on Wednesday for new Maryland hoop coach Mark Turgeon. "When (Lonergan) left to go to Maryland he referred me for the head job. I was fortunate and blessed. I had many years as a player and assistant under him. He is certainly a great coach."
Matt Hahn, a former basketball player under Gary Williams at Maryland, was an assistant under Lonergan at Vermont before he took an assistant position at Robert Morris before last season.
"I think he will do a phenomenal job," Hahn told Patch on Wednesday. "He has proven to be a winner at whatever level he has been. There is no doubt he will win at GW as well. He was one of the hardest workers I have ever been around."
The magical week continued Wednesday night for Lonergan, as he was one of 10 coaches slated to take part in pre-game ceremonies at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx for Coaches vs. Cancer. Lonergan's mother passed away from cancer.
Other coaches who were slated to take part were Jim Boeheim (Syracuse University), Mitch Buonaguro (Siena College), Mo Cassara (Hofstra University), Tommy Dempsey (Rider University), Matt Doherty (Southern Methodist University), John Dunne (Saint Peter’s College), Mitch Henderson (Princeton University), Steve Lavin (St. John’s University) and Mike Rice (Rutgers University).
Brian Cashman, the senior vice president/general manager of the Yankees, played baseball at Catholic University while Randy Levine, the president of the Yankees, is a graduate of George Washington University.
Lonergan attended the press conference at GW on crutches. He had knee surgery a few weeks ago and said he thinks it was due to all of the stomping he does on the basketball court to get the attention of his players. Lonergan said May 9 he is lobbying for his family to move to Bowie while his wife may be interested in being closer to GW.