Friday, May 11, 2018

"Coach Wooden's Forgotten Teams" by Pat Williams (book review)

Full disclosure: Before reading "Coach Wooden's Forgotten Teams" by Pat Williams, I know I'd heard the name "Coach Wooden" but I couldn't have told you where or what he coached. If you are as uninformed as myself, let me inform you: John Wooden coached men's basketball at UCLA from 1948 to 1975, winning 10 NCAA championships in the last 12 years of his career. Starting his last year coaching for the Bruins, he started summer basketball camps. He wasn't just a name for the camps but the integral part that makes them stand out still to the men and women who coached and attended. That's what "Coach Wooden's Forgotten Teams" is about - the impact he made on thousands of lives through these camps. 
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I have learned a few things from reading about Coach Wooden and his camps. 1) I never had a coach like him. I played sports for about 14 years and have had good and bad coaches. Some even cared about me as a person. But none like Coach Wooden. He taught lessons on his teams and at his camps that went beyond helping young people play their best or even good life lessons. He showed them the love of Christ through his actions, his patience, and his attention day in and day out. That's so special. 2) John Wooden was a great coach because he was a great man. That's from the book (can't seem to find the quote) but it is evident! He is the kind of man I want my kids looking up to, my boys to be, my daughter to marry. "I never heard John Wooden say a negative word about anyone. Never. I never saw John Wooden treat anyone less than great. I never saw John Wooden be unprepared. I never knew him not to follow up on a promise he had made." "helping others was his trademark. More than any other trait, Coach Wooden's love for others define who he was and what he was all about."

Some of the things he taught his players seem trivial. He started every season teaching them how to properly put on their socks and shoes. That seems common sense, especially at the collegiate level. However Coach Wooden knew that if a sock was wrinkled in your shoe, it would cause a blister and that could take away from you playing the best game you could. He knew that if your shoe came untied, it would could be wasting time in a game. He also taught his players not to show boat. He did not want superstars on his team but he wanted them to work together as a team. And so the kids were taught that when they made a shot, to. And whoever had passed them the ball. This taught the children, young and older, humility and teamwork. Coach Wooden loved this out; he "deflected credit for his coaching accomplishments, when he claimed he had just "a small part quote and all those championships, he was not merely being humble. He was following his own "pointing rule "and thinking his players. He was giving them the credit – and he was empowering them."

Before reading this book, I obviously had not heard of Coach Wooden's Pyramid of Success. I love how he defined success: Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming. "We don't achieve competitive greatness by focusing on winning. In fact, the best way to strive for competitive greatness is by putting winning completely out of our thoughts. Instead, we should strive to leave the building blocks of the Pyramid of Success in our lives, block by block, tier by tier. It starts with industriousness, friendship, loyalty, cooperation, and enthusiasm, and it continues through poise and confidence. If we have the first 14 building blocks of the Pyramid probably laid in our lives, the 15th and upper most block, competitive greatness, will naturally fit into place. " How beautiful is that? Those are all traits I want for me and my children and my grandchildren. 

My only regret in reading this book is that I will never have a chance to actually meet Coach Wooden. And books may tell me a lot about him, but I imagine that meeting him would have been something great.

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. All opinions are my own and may differ from others' opinions.

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