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Attention To Detail

wooden-pi_20100604221901_660_320As many of my students past and present know, I’m a sucker for a good quote.

I like motivating through words, mind and action.

I’m all about the details. I like to out-think my competitors. I like to look them in the eye and not say anything.  I reserve my opinions — and words — so they are more powerful when spoken.

Just like Wooden.

It’s no secret the great John Wooden is an idol.  You ask me the “who would you like to have dinner with” question … my answer always includes Wooden.  I own every book.  I’ve watched his videos hundreds of times.

Wooden was raised as a farmer, often times referring in his books about canning fruits and vegetables with “those glass lids that were made by the Ball Company in Muncie”.

He even spent time in Muncie and almost played basketball here, for the mighty Ball State Teachers College.  It’s true.

After he graduated from Martinsville High School, he went to work on a garbage truck in Muncie, Indiana.  Ball State Teachers College wanted Wooden to play basketball here and helped him get a job.

In his book, “They Call Me Coach”, Wooden recalls:

About the second day of work, while going down a narrow alley, the truck ran over two puppies.  

‘Scoop them up and throw them on’, the driver told me.

‘No,’ I said.  

‘If you don’t throw them on, you’re fired.’  

‘I’m fired,’ I said.”

Wooden then went back to the Muncie YMCA, packed his stuff and went to work in Anderson at Delco-Remy.  Oh, how the legend could’ve been different.

It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

The above is one of my favorite Woodenisms.  It’s particularly poignant as we begin the final 8-weeks of this semester with my group in Sports Link.

Big things are about to happen for this group.  The debut of this very web site, a new SL mobile app, the first student-athlete awards show (The Chirpies) and a stretch run of live events and features. The chance for this year’s freshmen class to define themselves. The chance for this year’s seniors to leave their mark.

But, one thing is missing through the first semester and a half — a collective attention to the details.  We are producing amazing work. We are as close as we’ve ever been as a group.  It’s special.

woodenJust like Wooden, I see the true potential in our students.  To reach it, however, starts with attention to the little details.

On the first day of every Wooden practice at UCLA, they practiced putting on their socks.

For the next three days the Bruins hit the court, but not with a ball. They practiced balance, footwork, movement … and putting on their socks.

He was a stickler for the little details. Appearance. Being courteous. Routine.  Everything has its place.

He even had a no facial hair rule with his team.  One that the great Bill Walton challenged. Wooden replied that he respected Walton’s convictions. “And we’ll miss you,” he said. Walton shaved immediately.

I think very definitely it’s the little things that make the big things happen. It’s putting your shoes on properly. It’s getting the wrinkles out of your socks so you won’t get blisters. Those are important things. It’s making sure that no soap is left on the shower room floor where someone — maybe not you, but somebody else — might slip and fall and hurt themselves. Just little things like that. They may seem inconsequential, but I think they’re important. I think teaching your youngsters to be courteous to airline stewardesses, courteous to waitresses, courteous to all people in hotels, I think makes you a better team. I think that helps your basketball. I think that makes you a better basketball player. I think it brings you together more. I think it makes you more considerate of others. Team spirit is just being considerate of others, in my opinion.”

Starting Monday, March 9, Sports Link will have a renewed focus on the details.  Things that our competition overlook.  Things that will take our quality even higher. Details that will make our students better.

Big things are about to happen.  We just have to practice putting on our socks.

About Chris Taylor (78 Articles)
Senior Director of Digital Sports Production & Lecturer of Telecommunications | 2017 Recipient of SVG College Sports Summit Pioneer Award | Storyteller | Producer | Emmy Award Winner | Sports Media Junkie | Social Media Strategist | Country Music Enthusiast | Goldendoodle Owner | Follow me on Twitter @BallStateCT

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