Tony DeMeo

Legends Live Forever and Wizards Never Die by Tony DeMeo

No discussion of coaching can be complete without bringing up “The Wizard of Westwood” – John Wooden. Coach Wooden passed away last week but his influence in the world of coaching and athletics will never pass.

Most know the dynasty Coach Wooden built at UCLA winning 10 National Championships in 12 years. This was clearly one the greatest dynasties ever developed, but what many don’t know is that it took 15 years at UCLA before Coach Wooden won his First Championship! This is a great example of what Jim Collins calls “build up and breakthrough” in his book Good to Great. I reviewed this book on this website and again would strongly recommend it. Coach Wooden stayed the course without looking for the shortcut or trying to cut corners and went on the greatest run ever seen in college basketball.

Coach Wooden had great players, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Bill Walton, Gail Goodrich and many others, but he also had a great system. Coach Wooden used the full court press and fast break to give his Bruins the edge. His first National Championship did not have a player over 6’5”.

The following are some ideas I got from the book They Call Me Coach by John Wooden:
1. Be true to yourself
2. Make each day your masterpiece.
3. Help others.
4. Read good books.
5. Make friendship a fine art.
6. Build a shelter against a rainy day.
7. Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day.
8. Play your best game regardless of who you are playing.
9. Peace of mind comes from knowing you have done your best.
10. Doing your best when only your best will do is what’s known as Competitive Greatness.

Coach Wooden was a stickler for detail and was a believer in being the best conditioned team on the court. As in every great coach regardless of the sport discipline and details are at the core of their coaching. There are so many lessons that Coach Wooden taught that carry over into football or any sport as well as any area of leadership.

I reviewed Wooden on Leadership on this website earlier and recommended that all coaches read it. The two other books I strongly recommend by Coach Wooden are: They Call Me Coach and My Personal Best. All three are outstanding texts on coaching, teaching and leadership. I would also recommend Coach Wooden’s website:

John was bigger than his records, bigger than his basketball teams, John Wooden was someone who lived the life he preached and was an example to anyone who ever blew a whistle or carried a clipboard. Thanks Coach.