FARMVILLE (WAVY) – Being named the head coach of a Division I men’s basketball program was not really in the plans for Griff Aldrich. A successful lawyer and business man for 16 years, Aldrich knew only one thing; he wanted to coach.
“When I left the private sector, I was more pursuing what I felt God was calling me to do, which was to coach,” said Aldrich, who’s only midway through his first season as the head man at Longwood University, and is already starting to turn the Lancers around.
Basketball has always been a part of his life. As a prep star in Virginia Beach, he helped Norfolk Academy win a state championship. As a collegiate player, Aldrich helped lead Hampden-Sydney College to a perfect 24-0 record under then-head coach Tony Shaver.
“He always talked about, ‘I want to get back to basketball,'” said Shaver, now the head man at the College of William & Mary.
Adlrich became a partner at an International law firm, started an oil and gas company in Houston, and became Chief Financial Officer of a private investman firm, all the while, staying connected to basketball as an AAU coach.
His first opportunity back in the college ranks was back in 2016 as Director of Recruiting and Development for the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.
Yes, that program.
Aldrich had a front-row seat to the greatest upset in NCAA Tournament history, when UMBC shocked the world as the first 16-seed ever to top a no. 1 seed, beating Virginia 74-54.
“I think we were up 16 or so, and maybe about eight minutes or so (left in the game) I mentioned to one of the assistants, ‘I don’t know if they can score quickly enough to get back in this,'” said Aldrich of that memorable night last March.
A man of faith, Aldrich is now looking to make memories in Farmville. Off to its best start since becoming a Division I program in 2007, Longwood has already won more games in Aldrich’s first season, then in the last two seasons combined.
“He’s so much more than just a basketball coach,” said Shaver. “I think the way he treats his kids and he has opened (Longwood) up into a family atmosphere.”
What matters to Adlrich goes far beyond what ends up in the win-loss column.
“My desire is just to continue to fulfill that calling,” he said.
A door that unexpectadly opened up for Adlrich might lead to something special.