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Motivation matters in life, challenges

Editor’s note: This is the thrid of three parts.

Finally another common denominator in coaching and counseling is “motivation.” In 1985, the North Carolina State basketball team, under coach Jim Valvano, practiced cutting the nets down every day after practice. When they upset Houston at the buzzer, what they had been thinking and doing came to pass. In treatment, every time a client was going to “make a buy” I had him or her stick the money they would spend in a jar, and walk away. After a while, the money they began to save began to change their thinking about going to their dealer.

Stories, pictures, testimonials are all motivational techniques. I often bring, Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” and play it before group to get them motivated.

The greatest motivational story I ever heard was from Coach Bob Knight, when he was head coach at Indiana University. There was a kid named Chip White at Ohio State University who played for Coach Woody Hayes on the football team.

He was a senior defensive back, 5-foot-9, 160 pounds, who had made the team four years ago. Because of his attitude and hard work as a walk-on, Ohio State was preparing to play Michigan State for the Big Ten title, and right to go to the Rose Bowl. On Wednesday, three days before the championship game, Chip walked into Coach Hayes’ office and stated, “Coach, I’d like to speak with you. I know I’ve never played a down for you since I’ve been a player here, but Saturday, Coach, you have to start me somewhere even if it’s for one play.”

Coach Hayes looked at him and said, “Chip, you are a great example of Ohio State football, but it wouldn’t be fair to the players that are better than you, that have never played either.”

Chip stated, “Coach, this is my last chance, you’ve just got to.” Coach Hayes said he would think about it because of Chip’s dedication to Ohio State football.

On Thursday, Coach Hayes called Chip into his office and stated, “Chip, because you have been a great kid and a member of this team for four years, I am going to start you on the kickoff team for one play.” Chip thanked him and left. On Saturday, Michigan State won the toss and elected to receive the football. On the kickoff from the far side, a streak in an Ohio State jersey hit the receiver catching the punt, and hit him, causing a fumble which resulted in an Ohio State touchdown.

Coach Hayes stated, “Who was that?”

His assistant answered, “Chip White.”

Coach Hayes then stated, “Leave him in for another kickoff.” The same thing happened on the next kickoff, but this time the receiver was pinned back inside the 5-yard line. Again it was White. Coach Hayes then said, “Put White in at defensive back.” The quarterback from State went back to throw a pass in the flat and before it got to the receiver, an Ohio State player stepped in front of the receiver, intercepted the pass and scored a touchdown. Again, Coach Hayes stated ” I know it was White, get him over here.”

Needless to say, Coach Hayes was ecstatic at this young man’s play. After the game, Coach Hayes sought out White to congratulate him on being an inspiration for helping Ohio State go to the Rose Bowl. A reporter asked Chip, “What were you telling yourself, having never played before?”

Chip looked at the reporter, whom he knew, and said, “You know my Dad.”

The reporter said, “Of course, son, your Dad, who was blind, came to most every practice and was considered a member of the team”

Chip then stated, “My Dad passed away Wednesday night, and I figured that if coach would start me, this would be the first time my Dad would ever get to see me play.”

For those of you that have never played or coached, stories like this are very prevalent in the coaching profession. In counseling, watching someone turn their life around after years of devastation, is what keeps us in this profession. There are many other similarities to numerous to put in one article, so all I can say is buy the book when it is published.

Mike Tramuta has been a CASAC counselor for more than 30 years and currently runs the REBT program on Thursday nights at the Holy Trinity Parish Center from 7 to 8:15 p.m. Call 983-1592 for more information.

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