I’m standing in the high school lunch line and the varsity basketball coach walks up to me, and only me, and looks me square in the eye. He tells me everything I need to know about the upcoming start of basketball tryouts on Monday, and he spends several minutes doing so.
I was incredibly honored and motivated beyond belief. I stood ramrod straight with my chest puffed out. This incredibly charismatic, Marine like, wildly successful coach was singling me out for attention. And I loved it.
But here’s the thing. I stood no chance of making the team.
I loved basketball passionately but had very limited skills. I was well aware of that and knew what my chances were of making the team. So the coach’s attention towards me was for one reason only- to make me feel special and wanted.
His gesture was so unlike other coaches of the time. No other coach would have given me a passing glance.
During tryouts, Coach spent as much time with me as he did anyone else. All sorts of tips on perfecting my jumpshot or improving my man to man defense.
And as expected, I did not make the team-but it was handled with great class.
As might be expected, this coach, Gale Daugherty, went on to bigger and better things. He was hired by legendary coach Bobby Knight to work as an assistant at Army. And after a few seasons at Army, he moved on.
He became head coach at Ohio Northern University, and had a long and stellar career.
Coach is up in years now, so I am making efforts to contact him, and let him know what I think of him. I am sure that he won’t remember me, but that doesn’t’t matter.
It has been nearly fifty years, and I still think of him with great fondness.