Coach Huggins

Posted: March 28, 2010 in Lessons

I’m glad Butler is in. I’m pulling for SEC’s Tennessee today, and to be honest, I don’t care if Duke or Baylor wins. I haven’t been able to pull for Duke since the Christian Laettner era, and Baylor stole our dean at the law school. Maybe they’ll tie, and neither will advance. 🙂

And I was pulling for Kentucky yesterday, both for SEC loyalty and because I had them picked to win it all. But I really don’t mind West Virginia’s sending the Wildcats home all that much, mostly because Coach Huggins taught me a valuable life lesson many years ago.

Coach Huggins is a controversial figure, and given his track record, I’m not really able to hold him up as a paragon of virtue. I heard him speak at a Nike coaching clinic in Chicago in the spring of 1993. Just one year prior he had taken the little Cincinnati Bearcats to the Final Four where they lost a hard-fought game to the Fab Five from Michigan. I, on the other hand, was 22 years old and had just completed my first season as a high school basketball coach where my senior high team had suffered through a rough season and my junior high team had experienced much success. It was good timing for me to hear Coach Huggins speak.

The story I’ll always remember involved a moment with his father (also a coach) after the loss to Michigan. It had been an unbelievable run for Cincy to make the Final Four, and when Coach Huggins saw his father approaching, he expected a fatherly hug and a “Ya had a good run” sort of condolence. Instead, his father said, “If you would’ve had them rebound better, you would’ve won.”

Coach Huggins was a little ticked off! And then, he thought. “You know, he’s right. If I would’ve had them rebound better, we would’ve won.” And his preparations for next season began at that very moment.

I needed to hear what he had to say because, after only a scant season of coaching under my belt, I was already falling into that trap whereby you believe your success or lack thereof depends on external factors. Coach Huggins lesson was to always be asking yourself what YOU could be doing to make things better.

Now I’m not saying the world depends on you or I. And I’m not saying you can’t stop and enjoy the moment, and I’m surely not attempting to whip up a recipe for discontentment and depression.

What I am saying is to keep reaching higher than you have reached so far. And to stop blaming others for your life’s circumstances.

Welcome to today. What’s past is past and irretrievable. What happens today, and what will happen tomorrow, depends in large part on the attitude you and I choose to adopt at this very moment.

May we choose well.

Go get ’em Coach Huggins. Make sure they rebound well next weekend.

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