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John Wooden

June 4, 2020 marked the 10th anniversary of the passing of John Wooden, one of the most revered coaches in the history of sports. Nicknamed the “Wizard of Westwood”, he won ten NCAA national championships in a 12-year period as head coach of UCLA, including a record seven in a row.

Wooden has been recognized numerous times and in numerous ways for his impact on sports and people. In 1960, he was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame for his achievements as a player and as a coach in 1973, becoming the first to be honored as both a player and a coach. Since 1977, the John R. Wooden Award has been the most coveted of the four college basketball player-of-the-year awards. This award has attained the status of being the equivalent of football’s Heisman Trophy for college basketball. He has schools and athletic facilities named after him.A high school in the San Fernando Valley was renamed to John R. Wooden High School.On July 23, 2003, Wooden received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.On Wooden’s 96th birthday in 2006, a post office in Reseda was renamed the Coach John Wooden Post Office.On October 26, 2012, a bronze statue of Wooden was dedicated at the newly renovated Pauley Pavilion. These are just a few of the accolades bestowed upon a man whose legacy will live on with future generations.

Wooden’s most far reaching influence to have an effect on the general population is his Pyramid of Success. As early as high school He questioned the meaning of the word “success”. In 1934, as a 24-year old high school coach, he began writing down ideas that would lead to his definition of success and, more importantly, how to achieve it.

It took many years to find the correct correlation between human traits and values that make up the basis of a pyramid. Wooden decided that the cornerstones would be Industriousness and Enthusiasm as the two most important building blocks. Completing the foundation are Friendship, Loyalty and Cooperation. The additional building blocks leading to the top of the pyramid – Competitive Greatness – were completed by the time he started as basketball head coach at UCLA in 1948.

Wooden was a man of many words of wisdom that propelled his players to success in competition and life. He also influenced others. A sampling of remembrances was featured in the 6/4/2020 issue of the Los Angeles Times. Twenty years ago, Anthony Lynn was a rookie NFL assistant coach when he heard Wooden speak to his Denver Broncos. So impressed by what Wooden had to say that he invited him to lunch. Wooden’s simple message that the time wasted worrying about what the opposing team will do is best spent worrying about how your own team will succeed is a backbone of Lynn’s coaching today. He credits Wooden’s words from his books about leadership and character building with helping him in coaching, life and fatherhood.

Now you may wonder why I think it is important for you to know about John Wooden. His philosophies of life transcend the world of sports.He was the best kind of teacher. We should learn from him.

The world is currently is in a state of tumultuous chaos in several ways. What can we do to overcome the negativity that has engulfed our lives? One way, of course, is to vote in November. But there are other ways, too. The word I would like to add to Wooden’s pyramid is Respect. We must respect each other’s lives no matter what color, religion, sexual orientation and national origin. A winning sports team is made up with people from these categories. Why can’t we all just get along in our daily lives?