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Issue 458: "Character + Intelligence + Persistence = Unstoppable" (John McClendon Part One)

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 10 Issue 458
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login

 

"CHARACTER + INTELLIGENCE + PERSISTENCE = UNSTOPPABLE" (JOHN MCCLENDON PART ONE)

 
 
No one person is more responsible for basketball as we know it today than John McClendon (1915-1999). Coach McClendon was the:
 
  1. First African American to graduate with a degree in physical education from the University of Kansas (1936)
  2. First college basketball coach ever to win three consecutive national titles. (Tennessee A&I State University (1957–59)
  3. First person to integrate Kansas City hotels and restaurants. (during the NAIA Tip-Off Tournament (1954)
  4. First African American to coach and win a National Amateur Athletic Union championship. (1961)
  5. First African American head coach of a U.S. All-Star team overseas (1961)
  6. First African American head coach of a professional sports team, (Cleveland Pipers) (1961–62))
  7. First African American head coach of a predominantly white university (Cleveland State University (1966)
  8. First African American head coach to win a major international competition for the United States (1967)
  9. First African American coach on the Olympic basketball staff (1968, 1972)
  10. First African American to write and publish a basketball textbook (Fast Break Basketball: Fine Points and Fundamentals) (1965)
  11. First person to be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as both coach (2016) and contributor (1979)
 
This list does not mention Coach McLendon's contributions to the game of basketball that included the invention of the fast break, full-court press and four corners offense.
 
His combination of Character + Intelligence + Persistence made him Unstoppable. In his book, Fast Break Basketball, Coach McLendon described the importance of persistence in achieving excellence:
 
"The goal of striving for excellence in performance is a realistic one attainable only through persistence. It is thus possible to reach the goal while losing or to lose the goal while winning."
 
In his poem (attached) "Ode To The Vanquished" Coach McClendon wrote:
 
"Total the sum of life's great test
Find honor is given for only your best.
Regardless of finish, your place in the sun
Is decided by the race you've run.
From birth, as from the starter's blast,
Not whether you win, but whether you last,
Not whether you're beaten by others my friend,
But whether you've run your race to the end."
 
Will you run your race to the end?
 
 
 

Yours in Coaching,
 
 
Craig Impelman
 
 
 
 


 

 

 

Watch Video

Application Exercise

COACH'S FAVORITE POETRY AND PROSE

 

ODE TO THE VANQUISHED

Dedicated to one who gives his best

My heart goes out in full embrace
To any man who runs his race
Not almost all, nor just in part,
But wholly from the tensioned start;
And whether of vast or doubtful strength,
Who strides the course its tortured length,
Who will not quit but falters on
Until his entire strength is gone.

Within me there is bursting pride
For one who will not turn aside,
Straining, striving, by others passed,
Outrun, outsped, and often outclassed.
But struggling onward, giving all,
Gaining his prize, refusing to fall,
Such valiance does indeed direct
True inspiration, great respect.

The victor commands the watchful eye
Of the cheering throng as he passes by;
Too often his winning place is stressed
Out of proportion to all the rest,
Though well-deserved his laurel wreath
But as for me, let me bequeath
My praise for an inspiring sight
To him who fights the losing fight.

The stadium’s raucous, frenzied shout
Descends to whispers or dies out
As derision’s voice and foolish jeers
Grate harshly on the loser’s ears.
Rude and thoughtless gestures these;
Giving one’s best should always please.
Gold and silver, awards of style;
Effort to win is the thing worthwhile.

Total the sum of life’s great test
Find honor is given for only your best.
Regardless of finish, your place in the sun
Is decided by the race you’ve run.
From birth, as from the starter’s blast,
Not whether you win, but whether you last,
Not whether you’re beaten by others my friend,
But whether you’ve run your race to the end.

John B. McLendon Jr. (1915-1999)

 

 

 

 

 

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