From Sports Book Critic Lance Smith, August, 2015

From The Seattle Times, Dec. 21, 2014

From The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington) Dec. 12, 2014

From The Inlander (Spokane, Washington) Dec. 17, 2014

Praise for ‘The Thursday Speeches’

Do I Recommend?

“College football fans, especially those living in the Pacific Northwest, will enjoy this collection of motivational speeches by the legendary coach. The fact that the book is written by a former player of James’ program will make it even more special to those readers.” — Lance Smith, sports book critic. Read full review

‘Pete Has Nailed’ Essence of Coach James’ Speeches

All of you who may be intrigued by The Thursday Speeches, having heard 18 years worth of those from Coach James as an assistant at two different universities (at least 200 speeches with bowl games), I can honestly attest to the fact that Pete has nailed these in this book. I appreciate the many great principles and life lessons that he shares from those “Thursday Speeches.” I speak to many businesses and organizations around the country about “Winning, Losing and Lessons Learned,” and the meat and potatoes comes from all those years of learning from Coach James! – Skip Hall, former head football coach at Boise State University, assistant head coach at University of Washington and University of Missouri, and assistant coach at Colorado and Kent State. 

‘A Wonderful Work with Powerful Lessons’

The Thursday Speeches by Peter Tormey is a wonderful work with powerful lessons about leadership, motivation, and the human spirit. This book explains what a magnificent man Coach James was and shows why he remains the most successful football coach in the history of UW and the Pacific-12 Conference. Coach James’ wisdom and brilliance will be accessible to everyone now and to future generations thanks to this book. Anyone who aims to become a truly great human being should read The Thursday Speeches. – Tim Cowan, former Husky quarterback, Seattle.

‘This Book Is So Don James . . . a Great Coach and Teacher Until His Last Breath

This book is so Don James. He was a great coach and teacher until his last breath and passed his legacy on to every coach and player he touched. His attention to detail and commitment to excellence are here on these pages and continue to inspire those who had the good fortune to work with him, coach with him, play under him, or just be lucky enough to be a fan in his stands on game day. Thank you, Don, we love you! – Rick Redman, Seattle, former Husky All-American linebacker. 

‘Best Work I Have Read in Quite Some Time’

The Thursday Speeches is wonderful! Best work I have read in quite some time, and probably the first book in five years for which I’ve actually read every word. All the insights into leadership, details, personal character, the importance of mental preparation and desire to compete are extremely valuable. Thanks very much for seeing your project all the way through because it’s great stuff. – Mike Roarke, Portland, Oregon.

Joe Steele: Book Reveals Secrets of ‘The Master’

“Husky football fans will want to read Peter Tormey’s book for the behind-the-scenes thinking that went into development of the program from the mid-1970s, to the ’80s and early ’90s. The Thursday Speeches reveals the ‘secret sauce’ that DJ used to resuscitate the program and power the Huskies to the National Championship. Aspiring coaches at all levels should read the book to learn from ‘The Master’ about leadership, commitment to success, organization, teamwork, player discipline, and how to get the most from players’ talent.” — Joe Steele, former Husky record-breaking tailback

A ‘Must-Read,’ Notes Legendary Seattle Sportswriter Steve Rudman 

“Former University of Washington coach Don James (1975-92) created a College Football Hall of Fame career in part because of his ability to recruit outstanding student-athletes and in part because of his extraordinary grasp of Xs and Os. But James’ true genius was his ability to inspire, teach and lead the hundreds of young men entrusted to his care,” notes legendary Seattle sportswriter Steve Rudman. “In The Thursday Speeches, author Pete Tormey, a former James student, offers a rare and illuminating glimpse into how the iconic James so successfully motivated his players and brought more out of them than even they ever imagined possible. Mr. Tormey received exclusive access to the exact words James used to mold nearly two generations of young men and build a dynastic college football program in the process. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the art of leadership, character building and the nature of success. Don James was a genius. Thanks to Mr. Tormey, here’s a chance to learn from a master.” – Steve Rudman

 Thank You Pete, Thank You Coach James!

“I always regretted not taking notes during Coach’s Thursday talks so I was excited to see this book and bought it immediately. It hasn’t disappointed. I love the book and the way you’ve shown how Coach James directed the team mindset to become the great program that it became. Pete you’ve done a great job. Coach James once told me his most important job during the season was to get the team ready to play on Saturday and his final 48-hour message set the mindset he wanted for game day. Thank you Pete and thank you Coach James!” – Rick Huegli, former strength and conditioning coach for UW football


Peter Tormey, author of "The Thursday Speeches."

Peter Tormey

Following is a list of my upcoming readings, book-signings, and speaking events. If you’d like me to speak to your team, business or organization, send me an email message and I will get back to you.

Upcoming Events

  • Feb. 16: noon. A reading at Washington Athletic Club, 1325 6th Ave., Seattle, Washington, 98101.
  • May 7: Evening reading for Gonzaga Preparatory School Alumni living in Seattle. Location and time TBA.


Thanks for your interest in The Thursday Speeches: Lessons in Life, Leadership and Football from Coach Don James. This book, which has earned a rating of 4.7-stars (of 5) among Amazon readers, is available via as both a 6-by-9-inch paperback and KindleIt is also available as an audiobook on, and iTunes.The book is also available at the University of Washington’s University Bookstore locations and in epub, mobi, pdf, rtf, lrf, pdb, txt and html formats at Smashwords.

The 1978 Rose Bowl team.

The UW 1978 Rose Bowl team, James’ first team to advance to the big game. 

The book features exclusive content: the best of Coach Don James’ pregame speeches to his teams over his legendary 18-year University of Washington career.  I was a three-year UW letterman linebacker for James (1976-1979), and was a part of James’ first team to advance to the Rose Bowl (1977-78); we beat the heavily favored Michigan Wolverines. 

Peter Tormey, author of "The Thursday Speeches."

Author Peter Tormey, Ph.D.

The book, "The Thursday Speeches: Lessons in Life, Leadership, and Football from Coach Don James."

The book, “The Thursday Speeches: Lessons in Life, Leadership, and Football from Coach Don James.”

Coach James made his pregame speeches available to me for my doctoral dissertation in Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University, which I completed in 2007. James wrote the speeches before practice each Wednesday, by longhand, on 11-by-14-inch yellow legal pads. After making final edits on Thursday, James recited them – typically with fierce intensity – to his teams before a light practice on Thursday.

The speeches provide a rich record of the masterful ways that he transformed the UW football program from mediocrity into national champions. This book pulls back the curtain to put readers in the room and reveal the exact words James used to inspire the Huskies to slay the football giants of his day.

Packed with inspiring stories and invaluable life lessons, The Thursday Speeches offers new insights into James’ leadership and a perspective of James seen previously only by his coaches and players.

Experience Coach James’ Inspiration 

This offers life-changing lessons in life and leadership — far beyond the so-called Xs and Os of football. James compiled a record of 153-57-2 at Washington to become the most successful football coach in the history of UW and the Pacific-12 Conference. James, who succumbed to pancreatic cancer on Oct. 20, 2013 at age 80, exhibited a voracious appetite for reading and an expansive intellect. The book offers a wide range of stories James used to engage the Huskies, including goal-setting by Freud and Frankl; how the Cheshire Cat in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” related to the Huskies’ goals; the benefits of suffering; the importance of attitude; the keys to problem-solving; the true meaning of fun, and many others. He fashions speeches around figures including George Washington Carver, Benjamin Franklin, Julius Caesar, Helen Keller, Romano Banuelos, among many others.

What They’re Saying about The Thursday Speeches

The Thursday Speeches has drawn widespread acclaim, including this four-star review published recently from expert sports book critic Lance Smith, known as “The Guy Who Reviews Sports Books.” Read what others are saying about the book.

FREE: James’ Pyramid of Objectives and a Thursday Speech

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The Book’s Sections:

I: Getting to the Rose Bowl – chronicles James’ early struggles to change attitudes, and reveals the details behind his decision to move into his office in his first UW season (for the remainder of the season) after a crushing loss to Alabama.

II: Themes of “The Thursday Speeches” – excerpts from James’ Thursday speeches about the topics he addressed most often: Attitude, Life Lessons, Competitive Greatness, and Visualizing Victory.

III: Glimmers – Short essays on a variety of topics derived from interviews with Coach James, including “Learning from Legends,” the coaches who influenced James the most; “The Leader as Role Model,” “Coaches Are Teachers”; and “Leading from the Tower.”

IV: A Lasting Legacy – Comments from Coach Gary Pinkel, University of Missouri; Coach Nick Saban, University of Alabama; James’ pastor, Rev. Jerry Mitchell; James’ family members, and others.

A portion of the proceeds from book sales will go to the UW’s Don James Football Endowment Fund to provide scholarship assistance to student-athletes.

Click to Buy 


The print and Kindle book.

The audiobook is available now. Check out the author's page at

The audiobook.