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    Dec. 4, 2010

    CHICAGO - UIC head men's basketball coach Howard Moore is the 2010 recipient of the Ricky Byrdsong Award, the Illinois Fatherhood Initiative (IFI) announced earlier this week. Moore accepted the award at the Union League Club of Chicago on Thursday afternoon.

    Created in 2000 and named after former Northwestern head coach Ricky Byrdsong, the award annually recognizes men who are good fathers, have reached out and made a difference in the lives of youth and have demonstrated a spiritual dimension to their lives.

    Moore and his wife, Jennifer, have two children: a son, Jerell, and a daughter, Jaidyn. He regularly speaks of his unprecedented love for his family, including his parents, who still reside in the Windy City. Moore has instilled a family atmosphere in the UIC program, quickly establishing him as a father figure for the young men on the team. In his first meeting with the returning players, he reiterated to each of them that they were all "his kids," despite not recruiting any of them. Despite the coaching change, not one player has left the program since Moore took over.

    When Moore officially became UIC's 10th head coach in August, with his family watching on, Moore gave a passionate, emotional and energetic speech regarding his pride for the UIC job, his happiness being back in Chicago and his vision of championship success for the program's future.

    Fighting back tears at the press conference, Moore recognized the emotional moment, stating that "A lot of people believed in Howard Moore. It means a lot to me to come home. This is a tremendous situation and a tremendous opportunity. The reason I'm emotional is because this is not about Howard Moore. This is about family and people who have put me in this position. I'm extremely proud to call myself a Chicagoan, to call myself a coach, and to call myself a teacher and that I can affect the lives of young men."

    Moore's passion to change the culture of the UIC program is a process that is practiced every day. He had t-shirts made that includes the following phrase on the back: "We win Every Day. In the Classroom, On the Court, On Campus."

    Prior to the season, each member of the Flames basketball team (players and coaches) assisted in "Cleaning up UIC," picking up trash on The Quad, and engaging the student body by spreading the word about the basketball program. Moore personally greeted numerous students and faculty members during the project.

    The well-documented Running of "The Hill" was also a vehicle for valuable team-building and the development of mental toughness.

    Once a week for six weeks, the Flames players and coaches took an early morning bus ride to a grassy hill near the south end zone of Soldier Field. There, the foundation for their season was laid. Players were broken up into small groups, and given a target time to complete the day's goal of how many times the hill needed to be climbed. It started with 10 trips up and down, then eventually increased to 15. By the final session, each player had gradually doubled their trips to the summit, ending at 20 per session.

    Along with building strong enough legs to endure 30 or more games during the season, the drill, which is required to be completed collectively, taught the players a valuable lesson about team unity: If you get knocked down, you have four teammates there to pick you up.

    After a difficult loss against Akron at the UIC Pavilion Saturday afternoon, Moore spoke to the media about his plan to keep his team motivated, in good times and bad.

    "We talk about urgency every day in our program," Moore said. "It has to show up in everything you do; the way you go to class, the way you approach an exam, the way you practice and the way you perform in games. If the urgency isn't there, you can't just turn on a switch. We've got to continue to develop good habits, and then we'll be a team that pulls out some close games at the end."