An Ode to a Legend: Coach John Wooden

I was in a cab in NYC the other night when I saw the news come up on a ticker in the backseat that Coach (as some of the lucky few get to call him) had been hospitalized and was in grave condition. Many know him from his days with UCLA or as “The Wizard of Westwood”…I gripped my nephew’s leg, my eyes welling with tears and demanded we go back to our hotel so I could begin making calls.

I was privileged enough to get a chance to sit down with this wonderful man and his daughter a few years a go through another mutual friend, Coach Dale Brown of L.S.U. Strange circumstances led us to this meeting, none of them having to do with sports. Coach Brown is someone that I hold in my heart dearly, and therefore along came Coach Wooden as well. I was forever changed by the words of Coach Wooden one of the days I got to spend with him at his home here in LA, in fact I keep the notes I took during our talk next to my computer. I read them every time I hit a rut or think that adversity is going to get the best of me.

The news stations are a buzz with his perfect records, the players he created and the push he had for education in a time when some coaches wanted to just turn out “sports-playing-machines”. Not Coach Wooden. His boys needed to be respectful, smart and then they could play some basketball, too.

He has so many quotable sayings that have been passed on, and I am going to share a few I have here from my notes with you. Enjoy – and know that this world has a hole in its heart where one of the greatest men ever filled it. RIP Coach…and thank you.

  1. “Failure to prepare is preparation to fail.”
  2. “It’s not what we give…It’s what we share.”
  3. “Be on time.”
  4. “Be a teacher. To someone you are a teacher – You may never know it, but you are.”
  5. “If we can get rid of ‘me’ it would help a lot.”
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