John Wooden passed away yesterday. For those of you who don’t know much about NCAA basketball, he is a legend — a coach who transcended the sport. I pulled a couple of stats from Wikipedia on him, just to illustrate the overwhelming success he had as a coach.
Wooden “gained lasting fame with UCLA by winning 620 games in 27 seasons and 10 NCAA titles during his last 12 seasons, including seven in a row from 1967 to 1973. His UCLA teams also had a record winning streak of 88 gamesand four perfect 30–0 seasons. They also won 38 straight games in NCAA Tournaments and a record 98 straight home game wins at Pauley Pavilion. Wooden was named NCAA College Basketball’s “Coach of the Year” in 1964,1967, 1969, 1970,1971, 1972, and 1973.”
But it wasn’t his success on the court that impressed me most, it was the character of the man. He shunned publicity and the spotlight, and he approached his job as a vocation – a teaching vocation, to be exact. He was humble, completely dedicated to helping his players (students) become better people, and he believed in hard work, faith and honour. And to top it off, he was a Hoosier, and in my opinion, one of the finest who ever lived.
Rest in peace, Coach. You’re a teaching legend too in my books.
Take a few minutes and watch his TED talk from 2001. It will be the best 18 minutes you spend today.