By Jeff Becraft
When I was growing up, UCLA won 7 national basketball titles… in a row. Seven straight years. And from 1964 – 1975, they won the national title 10 out of 12 years. I am going to go out on a limb and say I don’t think that will ever happen again.
They were coached by the Wizard of Westwood — John Wooden.
I remember as a kid hearing about a player named Bill Walton. So one night, I stayed up for a late game to see who they were talking about.
At first sight, I thought, “That’s Bill Walton?” He was tall, but he didn’t look all that athletic or intimidating. He simply did everything right.
I don’t remember anything about the game except one thing — watching warm-ups and during layup drills, Walton would go through the drills with his arms up, like he was waiting to get a rebound. Even as a kid I thought, “Who does that? I mean, layup drills are where you try to look cool to everyone in the gym and show them how you can do this with the greatest of ease.” But even during warm-ups, Walton was practicing being always on the ready.
I still remember watching Walton and UCLA against Memphis State in the national championship game. Tied at half time, Walton went 21 for 22 to lead UCLA to yet another victory. Even though I was a little guy, after watching that game I began working on post-up moves in my driveway.
I imagine that winning a national title is pretty exciting. If you watch March Madness, whoever wins is jumping all over the place and tackling one another. More than one who has lost, has broken down and cried.
Shortly after, I read an article about UCLA basketball where they interviewed the players. Do you know what the players said about practice? They said it was boring. Let’s spell that out a little bit: b – o – r – i – n – g.
That’s because Wooden would make them run the same drills over and over again. His philosophy was that by doing this, when they were in a game situation, they would know what to do.
Which just goes to show, that in many areas of life, we have to do some things that we may not feel like doing or don’t want to do or we think is boring… so that we get to do what is really exciting.
It’s a great day to keep going… and be always on the ready. You never know when the ball is coming your way.
Jeff Becraft is the Executive Director for Youth Corps and has dedicated much of his life to helping shift the vision of people’s lives. Youth Corps is a life-changing leadership development experience that inspires high school students to be leaders in the Midlands and beyond. You can connect with Jeff at [email protected].