Dave Paulsen installs his ‘Burn Your Boats’ vision at George Mason


Marquise Moore was interviewed last week by the American Sports Network to discuss his Atlantic 10 player of year week award, the team’s current winning streak, and the program’s first ever triple-double. But I think the most interesting part of the interview was when Moore was asked if the team had any mottos or fun slogans. His response was a quote that Dave Paulsen uses “burn your boats”, that essentially stands for a team being ‘all in’ and like soldiers against great odds, never retreating. You can hear Moore talk about it at the 3:43 mark of the video below:

The motto and vision for the program dates back to Paulsen’s earlier coaching days at Bucknell. This is from a 2010 practice:

“Paulsen basically had to get it through to his guys that no one is going to help them. They had to show up Wednesday, leaving everything they have on shore and protect their house.

Burn your boats, boys.

We’re not leaving until we get this done one way or another. We’re either going to carry the day, or we’re going down swinging.”

I reached out to Paulsen about the motto and he said basically it’s a “historical reference to an “all in” mentality – can’t have one foot on land, one foot in water ready to retreat when times are tough, you’re not playing as much as you’d like, don’t like your role etc. One of single biggest challenges as coach is to get total buy in.”

Here is an example of a handout he gives to his players each season:

It certainly seems like he has gotten this group to buy in.


[Photo by Bill Bride]

  • ScottRandall

    Love the slogan, they need to get those on the back of their warmups! The article from 2010 says they used to have it on their shirts.

  • Petey

    Paulsen seems like such a great teacher and motivator. How he got these kids to buy in so quickly is amazing.

  • gmusigs

    As long as we burn the Rams….

  • Gunston98

    Paulsen seems like a fun coach to play for, you’ll work your ass off but I bet these guys are having fun more than anything. You have to appreciate what he’s doing here getting so many younger players to take in his process. It didn’t really seem like our last coaching staff had much vision for the program.

  • Gamoo79

    Great alliteration!

  • dc

    There are a number of “Burn your boats” stories. About a thou­sand years before, the world’s great­est empire builder, Alexan­der the Great burned his boats upon arrival on the shores of Per­sia. By burn­ing his boats, Alexan­der com­mit­ted his men to vic­tory over the Per­sians, who far out­num­bered the Greeks in great num­bers. Fur­ther­more, Per­sia then also had the dis­tinc­tion of hav­ing the most pow­er­ful naval fleet in the world. Con­sid­er­ing what Alexan­der was fac­ing, the deci­sion to destroy the Greeks’ only hope of retreat was an extra­or­di­nary one. Nonethe­less, it proved to be the cor­rect one. Cortez is another.