TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Everything you need to know about Noah Gurley is written in black Sharpie.
Normally a quiet leader on and off the court, Gurley uses his shoes to express who he really is on the court. On his two sneakers, the senior writes multiple reminders that he will consult from time to time. The brief notes and sayings reflect more than just who’s on the basketball court; it also describes who Gurley is – the son of a South Carolina-born preacher.
“The first thing I wrote on my shoe was ‘All hard work, bad luck’ to motivate me to work in games,” Gurley said. “It’s realizing that things won’t happen, you have to make them happen. … Usually I’ll write ‘Child of God’, I’ll write ‘TGBTG’, to God be the glory and then ‘It all counts the last day’
“I grew up in a church and my dad was a pastor, so I always write little things like that to remind myself that I’m blessed. If I’m frustrated or doing something, I look down at my shoes . It’s just a good reminder for me.”
When Gurley moved to Fayette County, Georgia, he was already heavily involved in the church, spending every Sunday and Wednesday learning the gospel while watching his father preach.
This sparked Gurley’s interest in becoming more involved in the church as he took on several roles as a young deacon, handling the camera and even trying his hand at being the church drummer.
“It didn’t work out, I didn’t practice enough,” Gurley said of his short career as a drummer. “To be honest, it was good because a lot of kids my age and younger are coming through and going through a phase of independence. You know, when it’s your dad preaching, you have to listen. See him to stand up and preach was very inspiring.”
Hours spent in church listening to his father’s sermons permeated Gurley’s entire life, including basketball. With the striker appointed as one of the team’s captains, Gurley turned to his faith and his family to help him adjust to his new role.
“I’m just trying to expand my leadership knowledge because I don’t know everything,” Gurley said. “My dad and my mom, who ran an agency in Atlanta, so they just gave me their knowledge and I just try to apply it in any way I can. … (Alabama) is a family so it’s not that hard. I didn’t hit anyone. They told me they look up to me, so I just try to help them in any way I can.
According to Alabama head coach Nate Oats, Gurley’s contributions as a leader helped a young Alabama team stay on track through the trials and tribulations they faced. this season. Ahead of the 2022 season, Oats challenged the striker to be more outspoken with the team by holding players accountable in training and mentoring the team’s rookie.
Oats said he’s already seen improvement from last season to this season, which has helped Alabama reach its highest ranking in more than 20 seasons.
“It’s going a lot better,” Oats said of Gurley’s leadership. “I said to him, ‘You have a lot of knowledge and you’ve played a lot of college basketball games, these freshmen are looking for guys who have college experience.’ As long as he plays selflessly and plays hard, the guys will respect him. …He’s in the gym as much as anyone on this team. He’s mature and he’s starting to talk, be more vocal, be a better leader and we need it.”
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