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Issue 401 - The First Conversation (Roy Williams Part Three)

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 9 Issue 401
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



It is well known that Hall of Famer Roy Williams worked on Dean Smith's coaching staff at North Carolina from 1978 to 1988. In 1969 Williams enrolled at North Carolina so he could watch Dean Smith's practices and learn how to coach. He would have his first conversation with Coach Smith in 1973. The persistence Roy Williams demonstrated that resulted in that first conversation is inspiring!
Williams made the freshman team at North Carolina as a walk on but being a player was not his focus. In Hard Work, his terrific book with Tim Crothers, Coach Williams describes his mind set.
"By then I knew for certain that playing wasn't my goal. My goal was to learn to be the best coach I could be. My freshman year I started staying after our team's practices to watch Coach Smith's varsity practices. I tried not to be a pest. I didn't want to be underfoot, getting in everybody's way. I sat high up in the bleachers to keep my distance and have a good view of everything happening on the court. I had a legal pad and a pencil, and I wrote down every drill and diagrammed the alignment of the players. I wrote down whatever Coach Smith or Coach Guthridge said. I wrote down what time each drill began and how long it took. I was writing out my own practice plan. I knew that was what I wanted to learn more about."
After his freshman season Williams worked 24 hours a week his entire college career. Despite his schedule, he continued to attend as many practices as he could. After four years of studying practice from the bleachers, Roy Williams had his first conversation with Dean Smith, Coach Williams described it this way:
"I had always enjoyed math and working with numbers. During my senior year at North Carolina, I was still watching as many of Coach Smith's basketball practices as I could squeeze in around working for intramurals. One day one of the varsity team managers came up to me in the bleachers and said, "Coach Smith would like to ask you a question." I was scared to death, but I walked down to meet Coach Smith. He said, "If you wouldn't mind, I'd like you to be a statistician for us and keep a points-per-possession chart. I really need somebody to do that who's going to concentrate and do a good job and know what's going on in the basketball game." I said, "Coach, I would love to." I was trying my best to act normal, but I couldn't really believe what was happening. It was the first conversation we'd ever had. I think it was Coach Smith's way of challenging me and I took it very seriously. That season I was asked to keep the stats at some preseason scrimmages, and Coach Smith liked what I did. I was precise and he could read my writing. When the season started, I did that for every home game and any of the road games in the state that I could drive to."
This was the beginning for Roy Williams and Dean Smith. The rest made basketball history!
How persistent are you about your passion?

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman




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Application Exercise




Search history, my boy, and see
What petty selfishness has done.
Find if you can one victory
That little minds have ever won.
There is no record there to read
Of men who fought for self alone,
No instance of a single deed
Splendor they may proudly own.

Through all life's story you will find
The miser—with his hoarded gold—
A hermit, dreary and unkind,
An outcast from the human fold.
Men hold him up to view with scorn,
A creature by his wealth enslaved,
A spirit craven and forlorn,
Doomed by the money he has saved.

No man was ever truly great
Who sought to serve himself alone,
Who put himself above the state,
Above the friends about him thrown.
No man was ever truly glad
Who risked his joy on hoarded pelf,
And gave of nothing that he had
Through fear of needing it himself.

For selfishness is wintry cold,
And bitter are its joys at last,
The very charms it tries to hold,
With woes are quickly overcast.
And only he shall gladly live,
And bravely die when God shall call,
Who gathers but that he may give,
And with his fellows shares his all.

Edgar Allen Guest (1881-1959)






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