Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Much More Than March Madness

March Madness is upon us and there are three NC-based teams still in the hunt:  UNC, NC State and of course, Duke.  As a young girl I attended the ACC tournament in Greensboro many times and was reminded last night (thanks to ESPN) of the history that unfolded in my backyard that is now legend, NC State's 1983 run to the Final Four and a National Title game against UNLV which they somehow managed to win against all odds.  Coach Jim Valvano's vision, courage, enthusiasm, leadership, and whatever other words you chose to use to describe him at that time, are unfathomable and a model for all of us, not just in our sports endeavors but in how we approach anything we do. 

You can view his speech at the ESPY awards in 1993 on YouTube.  He was so sick he threw up on the plane the entire trip and Coach K (who was one of his best friends) said he didn't know how he made it to the awards at all, not to mention that he was able to walk to the stage (with help) and deliver one of the most iconic speeches given by anyone associated with the sports world. I love stuff like this.  He passed away not long after he gave this memorable speech.  His players said that he gave a version of this speech at every game.  No wonder they played their hearts out for him.

There are other things that come to mind when I think of how some people, sports teams, horse/rider combinations are able to achieve what others can only dream about.  George Plimpton calls this The X Factor Serena Williams calls it just another day at the office, I mean tennis court.  Andre Agassi calls it just "focusing" every now and then so he can win The Australian Open when most thought he was over the hill.  I recall a sports psychologist saying that you have to learn to focus and practice how not to become nervous at the big moments, because no one, not even Michael Jordan, can play at the top of their game when they are nervous.  Then you view videos of the clutch shots Christian Laetner made again and again, so Duke could make it to the Final Four for four straight years, winning two national titles along way.  Focus was never an issue for him when it mattered the most.

We should take the lessons we learn in sport and use them every single day.  I want to win at whatever I do, don't you.  I want to be a better person every day, no matter what the odds.  Don't you?  Use the lessons of Laetner, Valvano, Coach K, Serena Williams, McLain Ward and his iconic horse, Sapphire and put them to use.  While I'll be hoping for a WVU upset on Thursday night, I'll also be thinking of the other lessons from March Madness.  Thank you Coach V for giving us so much to think about this March.  

1 comment:

  1. I am a NCSU graduate and grew up in a Wolfpack family. I remember the day Jimmy V died, only because my Dad cried when they announced it on the radio and played that speech in the car... and my Dad is not a crier. Such a great person and a great attitude. He still gives me the chills!


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