Saturday, June 21, 2014

John Wooden

A few weeks ago, I picked up the biography "Wooden: A coach's life" by Seth Davis from local library - first time to know who John Wooden was. His life and work amaze and inspire me.

John Wooden was the legendary UCLA basketball coach who led his teams to 10 NCAA men's basketball championships. He was voted the greatest sports coach in US history.

Meaning of Success

Despite that he had no losing season as a coach at UCLA, Wooden's teams did not past first round of NCAA tournaments in the first 12 seasons! Many people considered that was a period he struggled. Not to Wooden, he thought that the program improved, he personally as a coach improved.

To him, success is a peace of mind which is a direct result of self satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming. 

High Standards

John Wooden set high standards for his players and himself. His pyramid of success embodied his standards - for his players, it was not just about basketball, it was about how they should conduct themselves to be successful.

Happy Marriage - a true love story

John Wooden and his high school sweet heart Nell married at age 21, and they remained in love for the rest of their lives. John would have Nell with him on every trip he took, Nell would be at every game John's team played - and they had secret ritual between them before every game started. They were inseparable.        

Wooden said  Nell was the only girl I went with. Nell died at at age 73 on March 21, 1985, Wooden remained devoted to Nellie's memory until his own death 25 years after hers. He kept to a monthly ritual — health permitting — on the 21st of every month, when he would visit her crypt in the mausoleum, then write a love letter to her. After completing each letter, he placed it in an envelope and added it to a stack of similar letters that accumulated over the years on the pillow she slept on during their life together. Wooden only stopped writing the letters in the last months of his life due to failing eyesight.

Nell was his first and last love. To John Wooden life was much more than basketball.


The biography "Wooden: A coach's life" provided many interesting details of John Wooden's remarkable long life (Wooden passed away at age 99, June 4, 2010, 4 month 10 days shy of his 100th birthday).  I read the book every night - frequently past midnight until I finished it.  In the end I was moved to tears by his true love to his wife, and his true love to his "boys" - his players - quite a few of them did not appreciate his love until they themselves were much older.

Life is to love and being loved!

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