The 5 Spiritual Keys That Led Villanova to a National Championship

Villanova 2016 National ChampsVillanova basketball coach Jay Wright chronicled his team’s 2016 national championship season in the book Attitude. In this book, Coach Wright gives an inside look at everything the team went through during its national-title run while also sharing the most important lessons he’s learned—lessons that lead to success both on and off the basketball court.

Throughout the book, Jay Wright gives credit again and again to a man he says was vital to the success his team had. This man was not a fellow coach nor was he a key player on the team. This man was the team chaplain and his five spiritual keys to success served as the foundation for everything the Wildcats accomplished…


According to his résumé, the Reverend Rob Hagan is Villanova’s Associate Athletics Director in charge of Sports Medicine and Strength and Conditioning. To us, he is simply “Father Rob.”

Father Rob is our team chaplain—our go-to spiritual adviser—and as such he plays a key role in our pre- and post-game rituals. He is an integral, indispensable, and undeniable part of any success we have as a team.

He may wear a white collar, but Father Rob is a guy’s guy—able to move effortlessly in any circle without drawing attention to himself. He graduated from Villanova and went on to become an attorney, working in a prosecutor’s office before becoming a man of the cloth. He radiates quiet strength.

Father Rob is a source of constant inspiration to the Wildcats. Here are a few of his key messages.

1- To win the lottery, you have to buy a ticket. In other words, you have to be willing to put forth the effort to get the result.

2- Give your two cents. It doesn’t matter how big your contribution is: What matters is how much heart you put into it.

3- In the words of Saint Augustine, do not be content with what you are: Push yourself to become what you are not.

4- Do not have a stiff neck. Allow yourself to look around for the larger opportunities to grow.

5- There is a sunrise after every sunset. Eventually you’ll see the lessons you’ve learned from disappointments.


— Jay Wright, from his book Attitude

These five principles serve as the foundation for success in any endeavor. Put another way:

1- Nothing happens until you start taking massive action. You can pray and meditate and visualize your goals (all important keys to success), but until you get off the couch and start taking massive action to reach your goals, nothing will happen.

2- Whatever your current role is, put your heart into it and do it to the very best of your ability. No matter what your job title is, there will be times when you have to do things you don’t particularly want to do. The attitude you choose to have when doing these tasks makes all the difference in how well you do them and the impact you can have on others along the way.

3- Keep pushing yourself to become the very best you can be. The quest to become the best version of you never stops, no matter how many past successes you’ve had.

4- Set your sights on a clear goal, but be open to change along the way. The path to success is never a straight line. Be willing to take detours and adapt to changing conditions along the way. And remember to enjoy the journey—bumps and all.

5- Something good can come from every defeat and disappointment. The adversity you encounter is intended to make you stronger and wiser. A setback is only permanent if you fail to learn from it. Hidden within every disappointment is an essential lesson you’re supposed to learn. Ask yourself what that lesson is. Make sure you learn from every failure while remembering that tomorrow is a new day full of new opportunities.