|Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 10
|Craig Impelman Speaking | Championship Coaches | Champion's Leadership Library Login
"CAN'T IS NOT A WORD IN MY VOCABULARY." (C. VIVIAN STRINGER PART ONE)
C. Vivian Stringer is the head coach of the Rutgers University Women's Basketball Team. She is the first coach in NCAA history to lead three different women's programs to the NCAA Final Four: Rutgers in 2000 and 2007, the University of Iowa in 1993, and Cheyney State College in 1982. She is the sixth winningest coach in women's basketball history and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in September of 2009.
Coach Stringer's career is filled with many seemingly impossible feats. It starts with her mantra: "Can't Is Not A Word In My Vocabulary." Coach Stringer's father Buddy Stoner was a coal miner and a musician. He is the inspiration for her attitude. One-night when driving home from a gig Buddy cut his big toe when he dropped a gas can on it. In her fantastic autobiography, Standing Tall, Coach Stringer describes what followed:
"That toe never healed. Eventually, the doctor had to amputate the toe, and then the foot on that side, and then the leg just below the kneecap. Ultimately, he lost both of his legs up to the knees. My father didn't take the easy way out. Before he got sick, he'd had perfect attendance at his job in the mine. After he lost his legs, he could easily have sat back and collected disability. But he didn't take a day more than he needed. Instead, he had our beat-up car fitted with hand controls so he could drive himself to a job in the mine office. I never once heard him complain, though many times I would wake up in the middle of the night to hear muffled moaning coming through the walls; my father lived with great pain. But he never talked about the hurt or the inconvenience in front of us kids. In the morning, he would slide down the stairs, sit at the table, and put on his prosthetic legs, cracking jokes as if he'd slept like a baby. When people in the community would ask him how he was, he'd always laugh and say, "I'm kicking, but not too high."
My father's example inspires me every day of my life, and I use it to inspire my players. He went back to work at the coal mine even after losing both of his legs, so you can imagine how I feel when I hear some gifted nineteen-year-old at the peak of her physical condition tell me that she "can't" do this or do that! Can't wasn't a word in my father's vocabulary, and it's not one in mine. All things are possible as long as you've got breath in your body."
How's your attitude?
Yours in Coaching,
What I Call Living
The miser thinks he's living when he's hoarding up his gold;
Edgar Albert Guest (1881-1959)
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