Archive for the ‘graduation (HS and college)’ Category

Sometimes a Dad Just Has to Brag

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Unless you’re a person like George Washington, Thomas Edison, Ludwig van Beethoven or someone else who’s given something to the world that will never be forgotten, your legacy is your kids.  Chances are you did your own thing for a while (longer for some of us than others) and then decided to settle down and do what your parents had been bugging you about.  Which included having kids.

I fit into that category, but was one of those who started settling down late.  I waited to get married until I was almost 39.  My wife, Jane, and I had two boys.  We never really thought about what we’d do when they grew up because we got so used to having them around.  Andy was the first to leave, attending UC-Irvine and graduating with a BA in four years.  As if that wasn’t amazing enough, he immediately found employment, albeit as a salesman whose job description contained a good deal of cold calling.  This meant walking past “No Soliciting” signs on many occasions and getting cursed out often by owners (once, in front of the guy’s five-year-old son).

The greatest aspect of that gig, though, turned out to be its training – which helped Andy with his current job as Sales Executive at a company named Booker which sells software, mainly to spas, health clubs, etc.  Keep in mind, what I know about technology can be put on the head of a pin – with a little room left over.  But the fact that I have a 24-year-old who’s living on his own (in Orange County), has a good paying job (with benefits and commissions), is debt-free (we followed wise advice and started early but he’s been smart too) absolutely thrills me no end.  He’s active in his fraternity (SAE), loves golf (which I wish I’d taken up earlier) and is living the dream.

Alex came along five years later and early on, it was evident that he had exceptional hand/eye coordination.  My last coaching job was at the high school level so understand I’m aware that parents think highly of their kids’ athletic prowess.  Alex, however, does have the numbers – and the awards – to back up my beliefs.  He finished his high school career as the all-time leading scorer in the history of, not only his high school (Buchanan) but the entire Clovis Unified School District.  For that matter, he scored more than anybody who ever played in the Fresno Unified School District.  He finished as the sixth leading scorer in the history of the San Joaquin Valley.

Many thought he’d wind up at a Division I institution – including several scouts and professional coaches – but, while he had some D-I interest, at none of those schools did he feel comfortable.  He played very well during an April evaluation period and was contacted immediately by Cal State Monterey Bay.  An official visit followed that next weekend and he found a match.  His play this year was good enough (he averaged 13.4 ppg) for him to be named Freshman of the Year in the conference (he finished 6th in the league in total points scored) and, just yesterday, received notification that he was named to the Division II Bulletin All-Freshman team, the only player from the West region to be so named. He is the first Monterey Bay player to receive that distinction.

I know all of this sounds like I might throw out my shoulder patting myself on the back so hard, but as Satchel Paige once said:

“It ain’t braggin’ if you kin do it.”

What To Do If the One-&-Done Rule CAN’T Be Repealed

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

It doesn’t surprise anybody when I tell them the pull I have with the NCAA and the NBA is equal to the juice I have with the White House.  That doesn’t mean I don’t have a better idea when it comes to the (admitted) problem of the NCAA’s one-and-done student-athlete.  While the following post (which, by the way, I first blogged on 5/3/2010 and altered a little here) certainly could use further tweaking, it’s exponentially superior to whatever has been proposed thus far.  Plus, it’s not illegal nor does it break any NBAPA rule.  Read and let me know what you think.  Better yet, contact the NBA office.  Especially if you have clout.

So many people are up in arms regarding the NBA rule that forces a high school player to attend college for at least a year before heading to the big league.  Of course, there are alternatives, but many are pretty radical, e.g. playing overseas ala Brandon Jennings.  While it (ultimately) worked out for Jennings (keep in mind he had a terrible experience over there), others have tried and haven’t been as successful as the Bucks’ star.

If memory serves me correctly (and at this age, that being true is a toss up), David Stern said the rule is in place due to some “legalese,” i.e. he’s not too thrilled about it either, but it’s the best of all evils.  With that in mind, it means that the “road most traveled” will be to enter college for at least (and for some, at most) one year.  My claim is that the current situation can be changed for the betterment of . . . everybody.

The why are we whining about it?  Let’s deal with it.  How?  Make college more relevant to these guys.  If they are as talented as they think they are (and as influential outsiders are telling them they are), then the school’s goal should be to help them – just like colleges are helping all other students.  As I initially blogged on 5/6/07 (and have reprinted that post at least once), the reason kids go to college is not for an education, but to improve their station in life.

The one-and-dones are going to college because they have to – and once the sand runs out of that year-long hour glass, color them gone – for the big money.  If that actually is the reality – and for the great ones, it is – why not give them a curriculum to prepare them for the life they’re about to enter, e.g. show them there is relevance for them to attend college!  Why not create a major in the field.  Put off the general education classes temporarily and offer them (and any other student at the university for that matter) courses in 1) money management (including the value of philanthropy for those who really hit the jackpot), 2) how to select advisers (mentors, agents, and, although, it could be a sensitive area, friends), 3) how to deal with the media and use it to their advantage, 4) women’s rights, including “no means no” (this should be mandatory for many students in the wake of today’s front page stories), 5) nutrition, 6) maintaining physical fitness, 7) accepting (embracing) the responsibility of being a role model and acting appropriately (whether they want to or not, athletes are role models) and 8 since NBA players don’t have normal 8-hour work days, nor do they play year-round, a course in how to productively use “down-time” (from doing crosswords and sudokus to keep the mind active, to reading up on a topic of interest, to tennis and golf, to . . . whatever)?  Many other course possibilities exist if people at the top (maybe create a mastermind group) would put their heads together.  For the kid who doesn’t get drafted or realizes he’s not yet ready, or better yet, realizes a college degree might be a necessity, and at the very least, certainly wouldn’t hurt, the sophomore year can be devoted to catching up on general ed classes.

What this does is give an extremely talented (in the sport of basketball) young man something that he can actually see will help him in his life after basketball.  Although Charles Barkley is a one-of-a-kind, e.g. an out-of-shape kid who eschewed attending classes, he became one of the 50 best players in the NBA and has been inducted into both the intercollegiate and NBA Halls of Fame.  He has managed to make a great life for himself, currently serving as a studio analyst for both the NCAA and NBA as well as a pitchman for several products.  That is, he’s making a lot of money.  However, for every Charles Barkley, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of kids who never played a second of pro ball, nor cashed an NBA paycheck.

One night a few years ago, the guys on the set of TNT’s NBA game night studio show were giving Sir Charles a hard time about the (lack of an) Auburn education he got and leaving the school without a degree.  Charles had a pretty good comeback (which may only apply to him):

“I don’t have a degree – but a lot of people who work for me do.”

A Great Source of Parental Pride

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Whenever parents are blessed with a child, a gigantic responsibility follows.  I can remember a child psychology course I took in college in which the professor told us there were three philosophies regarding how to raise children.  “Unfortunately,” he said, “none of them work.”  I’ve yet to meet a parent who disagrees with my former prof.

As your kids grow up, independent of the child, there are good and bad times.  Your hope is that the good outnumber the bad – by a significant amount.  There are many moments in a child’s life that put a smile on your face.  In the beginning, they’re first steps and first words.  Later on, they make it to the refrigerator.  Depending on your child’s interests, the events that follow come from different areas of academia, extra curricular, community service, etc.

A gratifying, yet somewhat frightful time, is when your child leaves for college.  You realize you’re about to find out how your parenting skills measure up.  When the alarm sounds for that morning class, does he (in my family, there are only he’s involved) get ready – or turn it off and roll over?  At that time, you, as a parent, have no control.  Your influence happened long before then.

The crowning achievement for any child who attends college is graduation day.  As for parents, the feeling is one of exilharation.  You reflect on memories and realize the tremendous accomplishment.  Last Sunday, at the University of California-Irvine, our older son, Andy, walked across the stage at the Bren Center to receive his degree.  My wife and I might not have been the proudest parents in the building, but we were definitely tied for first.

Since I’ve always been in the business of giving advice, here’s some I borrowed from Ben Franklin – for our college grad, and all the others:

By improving yourself, the world is made better.  Be not afraid of growing too slowly, be afraid only of standing still.  Forget your mistakes but remember what they taught you.”

The Wisdom of Charles Barkley

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Throughout Charles Barkley’s career at Auburn, I was an assistant coach at the University of Tennessee.  He was amazing to watch.  You couldn’t believe a guy with that body could get up in the air so fast and so high.  It was almost like he was made out of helium.

Our staff was close with the Auburn coaches and they regaled us with Barkley stories that, if we didn’t know them so well, we’d swear the tales had to be apocryphal.  Yet, here’s a guy who never got his degree – or is even close to one – who has made a great living for himself – after he retired from the game.

While Charles didn’t hit the books very hard (or at all), in addition to being extremely entertaining, he is quite insightful in the ways of the NBA world.  The perfect example of taking what he learned in his first job and adding common sense to come up with opinions that have a good deal of substance.

Regarding the area of players coming out of college early – in particular the one-and-dones – Barkley’s quote in the 4/11/11 issue of Sports Illustrated sums up the situation as well as anyone could:

“It’s ruining the NBA.  The draft is designed for bad teams to get better, not to draft someone who’s going to be better in five years.  It ruins the integrity of the game.”

Central High’s Decision Defies Logic

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

It was reported in the Fresno Bee in December, 2010 that several of the members of the boys’ basketball team at Central High School were caught smoking marijuana in a hotel room.  The team was playing in an out-of-town tournament and one of the CHS coaches, apparently during a bed check, made the discovery.

Child psychologists claim that the reason teenagers take such risks is because . . . they’re teenagers, and teenagers experiment.  While this might be an explanation for the boys’ actions, it shouldn’t detract from the fact that smoking marijuana (for now, at least) is against the law as well as being detrimental to a person’s body.  Although what smoking marijuana might lead to is debatable, no one ever made a case for it being helpful

Central took immediate disciplinary action.  The team forfeited the remainder of their tournament games and promptly returned to Fresno.  The school district then made public their punishment – dismiss the boys from the squad – and expel them from school!  Many of these youngsters lived for basketball.  Wouldn’t taking away their love send a clear enough message?  Throwing them out of school seemed to be compounding the problem.

Did these administrators (many of whom are probably from the Baby Boomer generation – one notorious for anti-establishment behavior during their teenage years, which might have included some episodes of . . . MaryJane?) stop and think that such a severe punishment could lead to even worse consequences?  What do these “educational leaders” believe – that these kids will feel they learned a lesson and will now spend their newfound free time in the local library?

I have spoken to many people about this, including some who were directly involved in the incident, and explained what I thought the decision ought to have been.  While not a scientific survey, no one has disagreed.  It would be fair to kick the boys off the team but, rather than take away their high school education too, they should have been made to attend additional schooling – in the way of Saturday School, after school (and possibly lunch) detention and a mandatory course detailing the dangers of drugs.

Educate them that their poor judgment created consequences, even if their mistake was mere experimentation (and in some of the cases, it may have been exactly that).  The lessons were 1) they could no longer compete in the game they loved and 2) that they obviously needed additional instruction in determining right from wrong – and the school was going to help them do that.  This would have allowed the seniors to graduate with their fellow classmates and given a strong warning to the underclassmen regarding any future transgressions.

Too often, actions like these are taken for politically correct reasons.  The school district has set a precedent in its ruling and if it thinks that these kids are the only ones at Central High who dabble in drugs, they’re could be in for a rude awakening.  

In all, cooler heads (at the administrative level) should have prevailed.  It’s my belief the administration let these youngsters – and their families – down.  It’s a case of: 

“Some people take themselves too seriously and their jobs too lightly.” 

Cam Newton Going Pro No Shock

Friday, January 14th, 2011

One of the least surprising stories hit the wires yesterday when Auburn QB Cam Newton declared for the NFL draft.  And why not?  He led his team to the National Championship (the Tigers aren’t exactly an annual contender) and won the Heisman Trophy (among other individual awards).  While some don’t consider him “ready” to be an NFL quarterback right now, would staying in college better help prepare him – or spending a year in the actual league where he intends on making a (very nice) living?  Besides, if history is any indicator, returning didn’t improve Tim Tebow’s NFL QB readiness.

Some may say that he now faces the cynics and their inevitable comments about whether his dad will be his agent, but he would have had to deal with similar contempt had he stayed in school – plus, with more time to devote to the case, probable additional scrutiny from the NCAA.

Unlike Stanford’s Andrew Luck, he never claimed his goal was to obtain a degree (no offense AU but a degree from Stanford carries quite a bit more cachet).  In addition, there were rumors of academic misconduct while an undergrad at Florida and while the allegation was denied, there was never any indignation regarding the charge, i.e. he was a serious student, only that he didn’t cheat.

As I blogged on 5/6/07 about the decision made by USC’s guard Harold Miner (I was an assistant on the Trojans’ staff at the time), kids don’t go to college to get an education.  Rather:

“Kids attend college to . . . improve their station in life.”

For Cam Newton, that means turning pro.  He should have everyone’s blessing.

If You’re Going to Draft a QB, There Have to Be Some Rules

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

The overwhelming majority of people in and out of football – from those who know just a little something about the game to the “experts” claim that quarterback is the most important position on the team.

If that’s so (and who out there says it’s not?), then using a draft pick – especially a high one, e.g. the first three rounds – must take considerable thought and planning.  Yet, a number one overall pick like Peyton Manning threatens to break every record for that position in the history of football, while a number two overall pick (the same year) like Ryan Leaf threatens seemingly everything (and everyone) else.  Tom Brady gets drafted late and several other QB’s go before him.  I’d imagine there was considerable reevaluating the draft decisions that year. 

Bill Parcells, legendary coach and now president of the Miami Dolphins, seems to have found the “Rules to Draft by” when it comes to picking future signal callers.  These were announced during last night’s Dolphins-Jets Monday Night Football game and, while they may seem rather restrictive, Parcells (and his track record in the game) are not to be scoffed at, lest the “scoffer” be ready for battle, as Parcells has be known to threaten a time or two.

Whatever the case, here are the Tuna’s rules for drafting a quarterback:

1) He must be a senior.  (Bill’s not known for his patience and, usually, the younger the QB, the more time he takes to properly master the job).

2) He must be a graduate.  (Hey, if you’re paying your guy a lot of money and he’s going to handle the ball on every offensive play, he’d better not be a quitter.  Rather, you want someone who takes his responsibilities seriously, e.g. no blowing off the spring semester to get ready for the combines).

3) He must be a three-year starter.  (Once again, a lot of dough, as well as a good portion of the game plan, goes to this guy and it would be awful to get stuck with a “flash-in-the-pan,” someone who waited, got his opportunity but what was overlooked, was that he took over a veteran team that only needed someone to keep a ship from sinking, not one to direct it to the shore).

4) He must have at least 23 wins.  (It’s too easy to put up big numbers with a losing team who chucks it 50 times a game). 

Very stringent demands and not every year will they be met.  That must be exactly what’s behind the big guy’s thinking.  And if no one meets the standards, there’s always a trade, or easier yet, free agency.

After watching the show Chad Henne put on last night – in a game that Steve Young called the best duel he’d ever seen between two young QB’s (and Steve’s someone with the creds to judge quarterbacks), the Dolphins seem to have found their quarterback of the future – and maybe, the present.  Then, again, one-year-starter Mark Sanchez (whom even his own college coach, Pete Carroll – also no stranger to success – said he needed another year of college) looked mighty promising.

Yet, one of the qualities a leader must have is decisiveness and Parcells certainly qualifies in that category.

I have no idea who Eric Langmuir is, but, when his quote is put in the context of drafting a quarterback, it becomes one of the greatest understatements of all time:

“A decision without the pressure of consequence is hardly a decision at all.”

While It’s Not Healthy to Live in the Past, There’s Nothing Wrong with Cherishing Old Memories

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

Because I “chased the dream” of becoming a Division I head basketball coach, I moved around a lot – to the tune of 11 different addresses before I was 30.  Granted, some of them were within the city limits of the town in which I was working, but the point is, it wasn’t surprising my former classmates (from Highland Park High School – see yesterday’s blog regarding life in HP) had lost touch with me.

Therefore, it was purely coincidental that I would be in attendance at our 25th high school reunion (to my knowledge the one and only reunion the HPHS class of ’66 has had).  It was 1991 and I, along with my wife of four years and our two-year-old son, had just moved (my 15th) from Toledo, OH to Pasadena.  I had recently been named associate head basketball coach at USC and was in the middle of a recruiting trip that, on that particular day, had me in Linden, NJ, no more than a half hour from Highland Park.

As I did any time I got into town (borough), I had called a friend of mine from way back.  Although we lived around the block from each other, we never attended the same school, his family opting to send him and his seven siblings to parochial schools, while I went the public school route.  Naturally, it was sports, mainly Little League baseball, that began our relationship.

After getting my rental car at Newark Airport, I drove to his house (most recently, we had worked together at HPHS – when I returned to my alma mater after graduating college and him following suit the next year).  When I arrived, he asked me if I had planned on going to my high school reunion.

“What are you talking about?” I asked him.  Then, I did the math and realized it had, indeed, been 25 years since we’d graduated.  “Are you serious?”

He said, “Vic (a mutual friend) called me and said he was in town for his wife’s (one of our classmates) 25-year reunion.”

At that time, nearly all college coaches who made home or school visits did so in tie and jacket, so I did happen to have the right attire for the affair.  Since my appointment was in the afternoon, I had plenty of time to do my job, come back and get ready.  Although I wasn’t on the list of RSVP’s, I was on the sheet as a ’66 grad, so I bought a ticket and walked into the ballroom at the Hyatt Regency – where I was absolutely taken aback.  With the exception of one guy, these people looked great!  While I thought I had taken decent care of myself (which wasn’t so easy – working long days, many of which were on the road, filled with fast food meals, ashamedly, some of my favorite establishments), these guys were looking so much younger than I expected.  Of course, like me, several of the boys men had their hair thinned and their waists thickened, but all in all, the years had been rather kind.  I can remember thinking how terrific the ladies looked – and I thought they looked good in high school!

Stories, and business cards, were exchanged and, while I can’t remember specifics, the overall memory of the evening brings a smile to my face every time I’m reminded of it.    

Yesterday, the blog wrapped up with a Jewish proverb.  Today’s quote is also a proverb, this of the Swedish variety:

“Friendship doubles our joy and divides our grief.”

The Key to Success for 99% of the Draft Picks

Friday, June 26th, 2009

While I was watching the NBA draft yesterday, for some reason, I was reminded of the one in 1983.  I was an assistant coach at the University of Tennessee and our best player that year was Dale Ellis.  Entering his senior year at UT, Dale was a consensus All-American, based on his stellar play the previous years, with the most impressive statistic being that he made an unheard of 66% (UT record) of his shots as a junior.

The three point line had yet to be incorporated into the collegiate game.  Our head coach, Don DeVoe (recently inducted into the UT Hall-of-Fame), had the philosophy of pounding the ball inside.  We employed a two in (post players), three out (perimeter players) offense and Dale was one of our posts.  When we didn’t have a fast break opportunity, we ran set plays, the majority of which were to get a high percentage shot (the shot clock hadn’t been introduced at the college level either), usually for one of our posts.

The basketball coach during my college days was Richie Buckelew.  By 1983, he’d become a scout for the Atlanta Hawks.  Following one of our SEC games, he saw me said that I was going to be shocked when he told me what position Dale would play in “the league.”

I didn’t want to look like I had no knowledge of the pro game, so I said to him, “I know – small forward,” ready for him to praise me for my evaluation skills.

“No,” he said. “2 guard.”

During our season, we had broken the players into groups to work with before practice actually got under way.  Dale had been in my group all year and I had told any scout who asked about his range that Dale could easily go out to 18′ and, in fact, that’s where most of our pre-practice shooting spots were.  Never did I think that our center, and for all intents and purposes, that’s the position Dale played for us, could make the transition to second guard in the NBA – and be able to shoot three’s from five feet further out!

Dale’s ballhandling and passing skills were adequate and, while he was an outstanding post defender, mainly because he was so much quicker than nearly all of the big guys he guarded and he had excellent anticipation, there was no way I ever thought he could guard an NBA 2 guard. 

Dale had another great season (capped off by playing to his fourth straight NCAA tournament) and when draft day came, he was being lauded as a Top 10 pick.  The NBA draft was nowhere near the spectacle it is now, but, even though there wasn’t the hype, none of us were disappointed when he was selected ninth by the Dallas Mavericks.

When Dale returned in the summer to finish his degree (a promise he made – and kept – to his mother, i.e. that he’d get his degree), he came by my office.  His mood was nothing short of doom and gloom.  He said how disappointed he was that he’d play great in practices, but when game time came around, he seldom got in.  What made it more frustrating was that, on the occasions he did manage to get quality time, he played very well, e.g. there was a game in which he came off the bench to score 18 – but, that performance was followed by the five most dreaded letters a players can see by his name in a box score: DNP-CD, standing for “Did Not Play – Coach’s Decision.” 

Incidentally, for a couple more intriguing and insightful Dale Ellis stories, purchase a copy of my book, Life’s A Joke for only $10 (I’ll pay the S&H).  Send a check to: Life’s A Joke 365 Sandpiper Ct. Fresno, CA 93730.  

Dale once told me he trusted (that was the word he used) me because I would always give it to him straight.  After hearing his stories about not playing (even though I could see it was really bothering him), I said, “Gee, Dale, it sounds like you’re miserable and you’re really getting screwed.  Why don’t you quit and just get another job that pays you a quarter of a million dollars?” (which was what the ninth pick got back then and isn’t nearly what today’s guys are making, but still is a heckuva lot more than I’m pulling down – 26 years later!

The corners of his mouth turned up, just a little, into one of those “OK, you got me” smiles, and he said, fully understanding my point, “Nah, I think I’ll stick with this line of work.”

I then told him that I had talked to his agent because I, in fact, had been following him through the agate (small print in the sports section, e.g. box scores) and had seen exactly what he’d been complaining about.  His agent told me that one thing he could be thankful for was that, while their coach, Dick Motta, indeed, did not like playing rookies, the Mavs’ organization was not known as one of those that was vindictive, and if they could make a move to better themselves – and a disgruntled player who, for whatever reasons did not fit into their plans – they would move him.

Sure enough, after Dale’s second year with the Mavs, he was traded to Seattle for former UNC star, Al Wood.  Dale flourished in that system, making the NBA All-Star team, before ultimately spending 17 years in the NBA and, when he retired, left as the all-time leader for made three-pointers.  He’s since dropped to third behind Reggie Miller and Ray Allen. 

The morale of the story is, unless you are Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson, or a can’t miss player (and although he’s far and away the best player available in this draft, I’m not sure I’d even consider Blake Griffin a can’t miss player), the key to your success is . . . are you and what you bring to the franchise a good match for the team that selects you?  If so, you’re fortunate and will most likely enjoy a long and profitable career.  If not – and remember, the higher a player gets picked, usually, the worse a team he goes to, so slipping several spots might just land you on a pretty good team – one which can use the skill set you have and not need you to do more than you are physically – and mentally – equipped to take on.  

There was a story in Sports Illustrated (4/28/08 edition) on Peyton Manning and how, during his initial meeting with the Colts’ coach Jim Mora and its GM, Bill Polian, he said to them, “I’d really like to come here if you want me.”  The true football fan will recall that the year Manning was to be drafted, there was a great debate (as ridiculous as it seems now) as to which player deserved to be the overall number one pick in the draft (with everyone knowing the other would go number two), Manning or Ryan Leaf from Washington State?  Obviously, Peyton felt strongly about his ability, since he continued – and I can’t say I remember anyone else possessing the stones to say anything even close:

“But if you don’t, I promise you I’ll come back and kick your ass for the next 15 years.”

The Old College Try

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Something jogged my memory the other day, and I was reminded of a story from thirty years ago that I’m sure you’ll really enjoy.  It’s from my book, Life’s A Joke, which can be purchased on this website for a mere ten dollars (I’ll pick up the postage charge).  Maybe you can relate.

At Western Carolina, back in the late ’70s, we were a school with a really small budget, not only in athletics but the entire university.  As a matter of fact, the bowling alley had four lanes and did not have electric pin spotters!  Half the class would bowl while the other half would be resetting pins.

Bobby Pate, one of the assistant football coaches and an absolutely great guy, was one of the bowling instructors.  The basketball offices were in the same building as the bowling alleys, so occasionally Bobby would come in before or after his class.

One day at the end of the semester, Bobby came in and I could tell something was bothering him.  I said, “Bobby, what’s the matter?”

He replied, “Jack, do you remember that girl I told you about in the class who was an absolutely horrible bowler?”

“Oh yeah,” I said.  “That’s the girl you said knocked down about two pins the whole semester.”

He said, “Yeah, she was terrible at bowling, but on all the written tests, she aced ‘em.”

“So, what’s the problem with that?”  I saw he was still upset so I added, “some people are more gifted academically than athletically.”

He looked up and said, “Well, there’s really no problem, but when I recorded her grade, I felt like I did her a favor because while she was perfect on every test, every ball but one she threw went into the gutter.  So … I gave her a B.”

I stared at him like he was crazy.  “Bobby, what’s wrong with that?  You were more than fair.”

“Yeah, but I feel awful,” he said, turning kinda melancholy on me.  I was starting to wonder if he was manic depressive – until he finished the story.  “She didn’t tell me this, but I found out from another kid in the class that this girl’s a senior and is graduating next week.  That’s the only B she’s had here at Western in four years.  My bowling class kept her from a perfect 4.0 GPA.  Years from now, when she’s highly successful, somebody’s going to ask her what her grade point average was in college and she’s going to say, ‘I missed a perfect 4.0 by one grade.  I got a B in bowling,’ and the person’s going to ask, ‘What idiot gave you that grade?'” 

I tried to make him feel better by saying, “Aw, Bobby, don’t worry about it.  She’ll get over it.”

He turned and left the office, saying, “I ain’t worried about her.  I’m worried about me!”

Had I known of the famous Johann von Goethe’s line back then, I would have told it to Bobby:

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply.  Willing is not enough, we must do.”