Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Coach Wooden's Top 5 quotes

Below, our in my opinion, the 5 best quotes from John Wooden. Coach Wooden, the recently deceased college basketball coaching legend, is someone who has impacted many people, both that he coached and that he never met. His influence is one that at times goes unnoticed, but should be celebrated at this time. Coach Wooden spent more of his time educating his players on life than on basketball, and his words will continue to educate us beyond his years on earth.

"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."

Coach Cat's Thoughts:
This is the hardest thing that I see our players and recruits struggle with. They are so concerned with "being respected" that they often forget what that requires. What may make you popular on a Friday night, might not be the thing that makes you a better person. Likewise, in order for you to be true to yourself, you are at times going to have to "rub people the wrong way." This is what shows the true commitment to your values and morals.

"Never mistake activity for achievement."J

Just because you are doing SOMETHING, doesn't mean that you are doing the right thing. This can often be the case in off-season workouts. You are going to the gym, but you are just doing the workout. Are you challenging yourself with the weights you are lifting. Are you running to get a great time, or to just make the cutoff time? This small paradigm shift can be the difference between an adequate player and a great player.

"The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones."

As many people know, Coach Wooden read a book of poetry and the Bible every single day in the morning. As a fellow literature afficiando, I appreciate the wisdom and the commitment to broadening ones mind through reading. I am blessed to work at a school that can boast the second largest collection of football books in the country, behind the Library of Congress. Coach Dau has collected thousands and thousands of books, and I have the luxury of working with bookshelves that hold some of the timeless football wisdom and coaching philosophies of the past 100 years. I also read a lot of books that have nothing to do with football, when I am done, I try to think of a player on our team that may benefit from reading the book and pass it along to them. Currently, I can think of 15 players on our current roster who have had books the have read after I suggested it. With knowledge comes understanding and power, and often times, the same problems of today were handled a long time ago. There doesn't need to be a new spin on the same sage advice.

"You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one."

Being concerned with what other people think, or how the express it, can be an overwhelming issue with many individuals. They get too concerned about what is being verbalized about them, either positively or negatively and this leads to them focusing on the applause as opposed to the task at hand. Some players strive on being told they did a great job, others strive on "knowing" they did a great job. That internal measurement of success is one that is critical to establish with honesty and integrity so that you can move beyond the cheers and jeers, and continue to accomplish things that will lead to success.

"You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you."

As many of our players will attest to, I am very big on community service. I think that it provides our players the opportunity to express themselves without words to a large group of people. I also feel that this exhibition of talent and ability can allow our players to have success even when their football progress maybe struggling. The attitude which I try to see our players have when doing service for others is one of excitement. I hope that this excitement comes from knowing that if it had not been for their efforts, that someone, or some organization would be that much farther behind from reaching their goals.

Coach Wooden continues educating us with this Rick Reilly interview

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Passing of an American Sports Icon

Former UCLA Men's Basketball Coach John Wooden passed away this past week at age 99. Every Sports Center Anchor, Sports Talk Radio, Newspaper editor, and sports fan has inevitably been speaking about this event. Not to be left out, I will offer two blog posts on Coach Wooden.

I had the opportunity to meet Coach Wooden in 1995 at a basketball camp while I was in high school. Though our meeting was brief, it was meaningful none the less. After he addressed the entire camp, I was compelled to read one of his books. Since then, I have read almost everyone of his books, studied his Pyramid of Success, and thought endless of the simplicity that he lead his life.

Most of my generation only know Coach Wooden as the retired UCLA coach and often are unaware that he was also a fierce competitor. How good of a player was he? His high school team went to the state championship three years in a row, while he was a three time all-state player, winning the tournament in 1927. We all know how serious Indiana High School Basketball is-- Hoosiers anyone? In college, he went to Purdue, and lead the team to the 1932 National Championship, in college Wooden was the FIRST THREE TIME CONSESUS ALL-AMERICAN. Needless to say, he was inducted into the basketball hall of fame as a player before being inducted as a coach. (1961)

In addition, he was a model student athlete. In addition to his on-court exploits, he earned his degree in English and was a member of Alpha Phi Omega (a national service fraternity) and Beta Theta Pi Fraternity.

Coach Wooden, upon retirement, became a speaker, clinician, and author who impacted countless athletes and non-athletes alike. His 1 on 1 book co-written with Jay Carty,had a tremendous impact on me individually, and is one of the books that I most often reccomend.

Of all the things credited to Coach Wooden about his patience, his moral fiber, and his wisdom, none is more compelling than his love of others. Whether it was his players who came from all walks of life. Thinking of the differences between Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar alone would have been enough to make any coach cringe. Yet, Coach Wooden's overwhelming conviction that what he was asking of each individual was right, and best for their development, endeared him to both individuals, and millions more.

Possibly the most mindblowing article I ever read about Coach Wooden, came after his death. In a true "expose" on devotion and caring for someone LA Times sports writer Bill Plascke spoke of Coach Wooden's devotion to his wife Nell. For the full article, please click on this link, for I won't be able to do it justice here. Plaschke's Tribute

Coach Wooden "retired" from coaching in 1975, three years before I was born. I put retired in quotes, because though he stopped coaching basketball, he became one of the greatest "life coaches" in our time. There have been few individuals who have impacted student-athletes, and men of all walks of life. To count myself among those that have felt this impact, I consider myself lucky.

Thank-you Coach Wooden, rest as you lived your life, in peace.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


The Midwest Conference hosted their first ever "Diversity Summit" on June 1-2nd in Delavan, WI. Among the attendees were Lake Forest College Head Football Coach Jim Catanzaro, Head Men's Basketball Coach Chris Conger, Head Women's Basketball Coach Tam Tills, Athletic Director Jackie Slaats, and Associate Athletic Direct Portia Lowe.

The summit was coordinated by Assistant to the Director of the Midwest Conference Nnenna Akotaobi. Presentators included representatives of the different institutions, as well as Cecil Underwood (Director of the Office of Intercultural Relations at Beloit College), Dr. Eddie Moore Jr. (CEO of America and Moore, as well as the Director of Diversity at The Bush School in Seattle, WA)Eddie's Web Page, and Preacher Moss a lecturer and comedian who is currently on a "End of Racism Comedy/lecture Tour." Preacher Moss' Website

When asked about the summit, Coach Catanzaro responded,"This was a tremendous experience for all of our coaches, and one that is bound to help our insitutions from the ground up. We were forced to interact with difficult topices in a clean and upfront manner. Both Preacher and Eddie were great about not sugar coating things, and encouragining us to do the same. There is a problem in our society and our athletes are just as involved in the solution as we need to be as coaches."