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Waddingham: Coach Wooden’s lessons worked on and off the basketball court

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 11:02 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 10:42 a.m. CDT

I am sure my coworkers have noticed by now, I don’t like to spend time in the office sitting behind my computer screen.

The morning hours at the paper are hectic as our Managing Editor Kyle Wilson leads us through another edition of the paper. We try to piece together breaking news with features and meetings from the previous day all before 11 a.m.

After the paper is paginated, we push our stories and pictures to our website, update social media as needed and start to plan to do it all over again.

By the afternoon, I need to move. I need to see what is going on in the area. I enjoy talking to others to see how their morning went.

And I enjoy coaching in the afternoon with the Southwestern Community College cross country and track teams. The opportunity to run and coach helps me get mentally prepared for the next day.

When I returned to the office over the weekend after a long practice and difficult run around Green Valley Lake in the snow, Wilson left me his copy of “Wooden.”

John Wooden coached the UCLA Bruins men’s basketball team to 10 national championships in 12 years. His lessons led his players to be successful in an unprecedented fashion on the court and to be great people off the court.

I haven’t had a chance to read much of the book, but small sections have already stood out as I randomly scanned through the worn pages.

The book starts with some of Wooden’s former players, coworkers and friends reflecting back to their time spent with their coach.

At practice he would pace the sideline as his team worked to run each play faster and more efficiently. He would shout, “Be quick, but don’t hurry!”

Wooden’s favorite maxims quickly became team mantras as the Bruins built a record 88-game win streak. Players commented how slow and easy games seemed because of the speed and perfection Wooden encouraged in practice.

Two of the maxims I noticed were underlined by a previous reader:

The best way to improve the team is to improve ourselves and happiness begins where selfishness ends.

Coaching runners is different than any other team sport. In basketball, one player gets to take the final shot at the buzzer. In running, each individual is in control of how many points he or she scores.

I urge my athletes to think about all the little things like sleep, diet and strength to be better individuals for the team.

I also work every day to be a happy person and encourage my athletes to be positive.

It can be hard to remember that happiness is a choice. As Wooden showed through his coaching and maxims, making that choice to improve and seek happiness is better for whatever team you are on.

So as I grow as a coach and learn from Wooden’s examples, I want to grow as a coworker and carry over a positive outlook so I can be prepared to give my best before that 11 a.m. deadline.

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