July 6, 2010

Willemsen writes introductory tribute for John Wooden

July 4th of this year marked a celebration for America, but also the one-month anniversary of the passing of college basketball legend John Wooden, renowned head coach for UCLA and two-time inductee to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

As the first member of the Hall of Fame to be recognized as both a player – inducted in 1961 in honor of his collegiate career at Purdue University – and as a coach in 1973 after a string of seven consecutive national championship titles with UCLA, Coach Wooden’s legacy has engraved a lasting impression on avid NCAA basketball coaches, players and fans across the nation.

In memory of Coach Wooden College Chalktalk, one of the country’s most reputable sports information websites known for providing in-depth coverage and analysis of men’s college basketball, will recognize his accomplishments by conducting a discussion focused on the Pyramid of Success. Wooden constantly strove to apply the principles that comprise the Pyramid to his personal and professional life, and placed great stock in its contribution to his success as a player, coach and individual.

Over the course of the next few weeks, various basketball phenoms including but not limited to UCLA’s Ben Howard and UNC’s Roy Williams will contribute to the discussion with their own thoughts as a part of a detailed analysis of the Pyramid of Success.

The commencement of the Pyramid Tribute was spearheaded by an introductory article written by Russ Willemsen, Assistant Coach for Men’s Basketball at Tennessee Tech. The 2010-2011 season marks Willemsen’s sixth year on staff at TTU and his fifth year as an assistant coach.

A regular contributor for College Chalktalk, Willemsen was presented with the opportunity to write the in memoriam introduction, an honor that he describes as both humbling and proud, shortly after Wooden’s passing.

One could only feel honored to play a role in a tribute to such an iconic figure in NCAA basketball, as Wooden’s unique approach to coaching and its reflection in his daily life has served as an inspiration to many.

“He always stuck true to his beliefs,” emphasized Willemsen. “He had a core set of values that he not only preached to his team, but also lived his life to the same standard.”

As a coach, it is only natural to strive to emulate Wooden’s persona in hopes to achieve even a fraction of what he achieved over the course of his career. One of his many respectable personal attributes was his positive perspective and outlook on any and every situation that he encountered.

“One thing that Coach Wooden always said was to ‘build a shelter against a rainy day,’ Willemsen said. “Life will always have difficult times, but if you surround yourself with good people, you can make it through those times,” he explained.

Willemsen would like to thank Chris DiSano, President of College Chalktalk, and the rest of the organization for not only this opportunity to write, but also the numerous other past opportunities as well as those that he hopes to have in the future. His full introduction can be read here: Pyramid Tribute: In Memory of John Wooden.