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Issue 334 - Take The Best And Leave The Rest - (Woody Hayes)

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 8 Issue 334
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



Woody Hayes was one of the greatest coaches ever in the history of college football. As the head coach at Ohio State from 1951 to 1978, Hayes's teams won five national championships and 13 Big Ten conference titles.
Hayes's career ended ignominiously when he was dismissed from the University after punching Clemson linebacker Charlie Bauman after he intercepted an Ohio State pass with two minutes left on the clock in the 1978 Gator Bowl.
Whether it is a celebrity or sports hero, we should teach our youth to emulate their best characteristics but also recognize the characteristics they should not copy (take the best and leave the rest). You certainly would want to have Shaquille O'Neal's rebounding, charisma and power, but probably not his free throw shooting. It would be great to be able to score and pass like James Harden, but you probably could find somebody else's defensive prowess who would be better to copy.
There is much to be learned from Woody Hayes if we will take his best and leave the rest. Bob Hunter, in his book: Saint Woody, described Hayes this way:
"He was a generous, kind-hearted soul who genuinely cared about his players and who visited hundreds of hospital patients he didn't know. He performed countless acts of charity and tried hard to make sure no one found out about them, but he also had a vicious, hair-trigger temper that led to dozens of ugly incidents. Hayes could be a gentle, grandfatherly figure, but he could also be a snarling, profanity-spewing, fist-pounding beast."
He took his players to educational sites when they traveled. He took some of his players into classes on the campus they were visiting and asked the professor if they could attend. He thought it was important his players had good vocabulary skills, so he gave them word lists and quizzed them on the definitions.
He helped numerous players graduate after their eligibility, using his own money to do so. This story told by former QB Rex Kern in the book Saint Woody tells it all:
"Maybe four or five years before he got ill, he asked me if I remembered a certain player I'll call ‘Joe' and of course I did," Kern said. "Joe went home for Christmas his freshman year. It was during the uproar over Vietnam and one of his buddies had been killed there. Joe was in a bar and there happened to be a lot of antiwar sentiments flying, Joe got hit in the head with a beer bottle and was partially paralyzed.
He came back to school for a while, but never played a down for us. "On my visit to Woody's office, he said ‘Joe's had a lot of trouble, but by God, we finally got him graduated, and we got him a job, too.' Here's a guy who never actually played at Ohio State. Woody didn't owe the guy a thing except his commitment to get him graduated from college. And this was probably fourteen or fifteen years later."
What is your best? What is your rest? Keep your best and improve your rest.

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman




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Application Exercise



The Proof of Worth

Though victory's proof of the skill you possess,
Defeat is the proof of your grit;
A weakling can smile in his days of success,
But at trouble's first sign he will quit.
So the test of the heart and the test of your pluck
Isn't skies that are sunny and fair,
But how do you stand to the blow that is struck
And how do you battle despair?

A fool can seem wise when the pathway is clear
And it's easy to see the way out,
But the test of man's judgment is something to fear,
And what does he do when in doubt?
And the proof of his faith is the courage he shows
When sorrows lie deep in his breast;
It's the way that he suffers the griefs that he knows
That brings out his worst or his best.

The test of a man is how much he will bear
For a cause which he knows to be right,
How long will he stand in the depths of despair,
How much will he suffer and fight?
There are many to serve when the victory's near
And few are the hurts to be borne,
But it calls for a leader of courage to cheer
The men in a battle forlorn.

It's the way you hold out against odds that are great
That proves what your courage is worth,
It's the way that you stand to the bruises of fate
That shows up your stature and girth.
And victory's nothing but proof of your skill,
Veneered with a glory that's thin,
Unless it is proof of unfaltering will,
And unless you have suffered to win.

Edgar Albert Guest (1881 – 1959)






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