2020 Pat O’Brien Award for Coaches – Keith George

Pat O’Brien was an Odyssey of the Mind volunteer for over 20 years, including
14 years as a coach and several years as a tournament and regional director for
the Nova North Region, until his passing in 2018 due to illness. Pat’s favorite
message to his teams was simple but one that every team can embrace: “Have
fun and no regrets.”

As coaches, Pat and his wife Michelle led their teams through regional, state,
and world competitions. Looking back, their team members say the lessons
they gained from participating in Odyssey are even more memorable than
their tournament successes. Lessons such as how to be an independent
thinker… that everyone’s thoughts and ideas are valuable… that creativity can
be harnessed for everyone’s success… to ask questions… and to think critically.
The Nova North Board of Directors honors Pat’s legacy by awarding the Pat
O’Brien Award for Coaches to current and past coaches who embrace the spirit
and love of creativity and independent thought that he so admired.

This year, we received several nominations for very worthy coaches, but one,
in particular, stood out. As a coach for the past 14 years, this coach embodied
the spirit of Odyssey of the Mind. Lots of time has been spent emphasizing the
journey as opposed to the destination and encouraging his students to
approach problem-solving through independent and creative thought. From
coaching teams as small as 3 students to managing broken set pieces on
tournament day, his experiences have reflected the wide range of challenges
associated with being an Odyssey coach. However, when it came to
problem-solving, his message to teams remained consistent with Dr. O’Brien’s
legacy: it is not about the scores we receive, but rather the lessons we learn in
the process.

Because this individual exemplifies what it means to be an Odyssey coach, the
NoVA North Board of Directors is honored to award the 2020 Pat O’Brien
Award for Coaches to Keith George from Langley High School.

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