Saturday, December 10, 2011

Youth Sports: Grandfather Sets Example for Success

My dad - 1961
Strategies for success are passed on from generation to generation.

On Saturday, my father was inducted into the athletic hall of fame for his college. He was recognized for his achievements on the basketball court, where he averaged an amazing 19.8 rebounds per game. That is a school record that has lasted 50 years. The next player closest to this record averaged 13.1. On his birthday in 1961, my dad recorded 30 rebounds in a game which set a school record. About a month later he broke his own record when he amassed 31 rebounds in a game. That records still stands too. He averaged 12 points per game.

The ceremony was this past weekend in New Jersey. I had originally planned to fly out from Cincinnati alone because of the expense and because my two kids had games scheduled. My son and my daughter, however, insisted on going, so off we went. I am so glad that they talked me into it because I think that they learned something from the experience. Each of the inductees told stories about their success. And each story seemed to have a common theme, a parent and / or a coach who inspired to them to push beyond what they originally thought they could achieve.

My kids heard three lessons on success.

Lesson One

Rebounding Record Holder
My dad talked about a conversation he had with an assistant basketball coach early in his collegiate basketball career. It went something like this.

Coach: How many rebounds did you have today?
My dad: Ten, I guess.
Coach: You did that pretty effortlessly, wouldn't you say?
My dad: Yeah I guess so.
Coach: How many rebounds do you think you could get if you really worked hard at it?
My dad: I don't know.
Coach: I think that you can average 20 per game.

My dad took that to heart. He went home and wrote 20 in lipstick on the bathroom mirror in the house he shared with his wife. He looked at that number every morning and every night. During his senior year he averaged about 20 rebounds per game.

Lesson Two

The second inductee was also a basketball player. He talked about a typical conversation he would have after with his dad every game day.

Dad: How was school today? (He always asked about school first. School was all important.)
Reggie: Good Dad.
Dad: Did your team win the game today? (He always asked about the team first.)
Reggie: We did good today dad. We won 56-50.
Dad: How did you do?
Reggie: I did good pop. I scored 18 points and had 8 rebounds.
Dad: That's good Reggie, but you know you can do better. (He said that even if Reggie scored 30 points in a game.)

His dad always reminded him that he could do better and that he should set his goals higher. That thinking led Reggie to a hall of fame career in college.

Lesson Three

The final inductee was the 2006 National Championship Softball team. The coach gave the speech on behalf of the players, however after he spoke one of the players took the podium to say a few words about the coach. This is what she said.

"In 2006, our team was about to win an important early tournament game in the NCAA tournament. We were up 4-0, there was 2 outs in the final inning and the batter at the plate had an 0-2 count. We were about to win the game easily, but our coach called time and headed out to the mound. He called the girls in. And stated the obvious. He said, "girls we are going to win this game, act like you have done this before. No celebrations. We are not here to win a game. We are here to win a Championship. So after the historic win for the program. The girls walked off like it was any other win."

The coach was teaching the girls to expect to win.

The Main Point

As I listened and watched the inductees, I also watched the expressions on the faces of my daughter and son. I could almost see their minds thinking about what they needed to do to be so honored in the future.


  1. Your dad must have been a hell of a player. I have been playing basketball for about 26 years or so now and have made my mark with rebounding.

    In large part that is because I am not the most talented player but rebounding is about effort, will and anticipation.

    Anyway, it is not about me. But I did want to tell you that I really appreciated your post, there is a lot of value in it.

  2. Thanks JackB - I think my kids will remember the night and the lessons for a long time.

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