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Patience helpful in many avenues

April 4, 2011
By MIKE MATHISON - Sports editor ( , The Herald-Star

Not too long ago a friend of my daughter lost her mind about something and it was all because she had zero patience.


There is a saying that goes, "Patience is a virtue, possess it if you can. Seldom found in a woman. Never in a man."

Patience is a fleeting thing.

Athletic teams have it for one possession, but not on the next five.

Football coaches have it when they run that same off-tackle play seven times to set up the defense.

Pitchers have to have it when that pitch one inch off the plate is called a ball over and over again.

Great hitters like Ted Williams, Tony Gwynn, Rod Carew and Lou Gehrig were incredibly patient at the plate.

Swimmers and distance runners have to be patient as they put in all those miles in the water and on the ground.

For golfers, patience is a must. You can only play so fast, walk so fast, or the cart can only go so fast.

Adults have it one day and it wears thin the next.

Parents can have it with their children but not with the coaches.

Coaches can have it with their players but not with their players parents.

Those who read this column know I am a big fan of John Wooden.

I believe he is the best coach of all time in any sport on any level.

I don't want to hear about Bill Belichick, Phil Jackson, Sparky Anderson, Paul Brown, Red Auerbach or Scotty Bowman.

One of the best books I have read is "The Greatest Coach Ever: Timeless Wisdom and Insights of John Wooden."

The 40 quick chapters are all written by coaches or athletes including Bobby Bowden, David Robinson, Tony Dungy, Steve Alford, Joe Girardi, Lorenzo Romar, Sherri Coale, John Naber, Jane Albright, Anthony Munoz, Bruce Weber, Mike Singletary, Tom Osborne and Les Steckel.

My favorite chapter written by Deb Patterson, the head women's basketball coach at Kansas State University. It is called "The Power of Patience."

My wife and children will readily admit my patience level can be full or on empty. I am way more patient off the athletic field instead of how I am while helping coach our girls basketball or volleyball teams at Jefferson County Christian School or teaching my son learn how to become a better young man while he spends hours practicing his basketball skills.

There is a Wooden quote at the beginning of each chapter, a bible verse used by the person writing the chapter and wisdom of Wooden as the chapter closes, along with three points of "Training Time" and a prayer.

Wooden's quote in the chapter, "Patience is the ability to wait and calmly persevere."

Patterson's first coaching job was at Hononegah High School in Rockton, Ill. She took over a program that had not won a game in three seasons.

Two weeks into the season four of her players were in a fight in the locker room.

She chose Wooden's "Pyramid of Success" to try to change the culture of the program.

Patience was the key.

In four years the win total went from 0 to 3 to 17 to 21 and a berth in the state's regional tournament.

She spent from 1986 to 1996 as an assistant coach at four universities and has been the boss at Kansas State since 1996. She is the all-time winningest women's basketball coach in school history, going 299-173 in 15 seasons.

"He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." - Isaiah 40:29-31.

According to Patterson, "So often we get weak in our faith and then we get impatient. Our impatience makes us lose our resolve."

She's right.

Coaches, parents and teachers have yelled "be patient" more times than they care to count.

Patterson talked about Daniel's journey in the Bible and how patience with God's plan allowed Daniel to stay true to his convictions. And, he made that choice every day.

We make choices every day.

Many of those choices are how patient we are going to be with what is presented to us.

How patient will we be when our children bring home their third quarter grades?

How patient will we be when our child is in an 0-for-20 slump and gets DH'd for?

How patient will we be when the driver in front of us is going 35 miles per hour as they try to merge onto Route 22? For me, not very patient, I will tell you that.

Wooden's Wisdom at the end of the chapter says, "Often the element of time adds value to an accomplishment. Good things take time, as they should. We shouldn't expect good things to happen overnight."

Yet, we do.

We expect our eighth-grade basketball player to start on the varsity the next season.

We expect our junior golfer who just broke par for nine holes to do it every time they step on the first tee.

We expect three workouts at the Millsop Center to result in a 10-pound weight loss.

Pigtailing in Patterson's chapter is the one by Weber, the Illinois men's basketball coach, called "Slow and Steady."

He talked about being a college student in Louisville when Wooden came to talk at a clinic. Weber's friend, the note taker at the clinic, had befriended Wooden and the two of them walked with Wooden each morning during that week.

"That week we got up early and took the long, steady walk with him," said Weber. "I didn't say much on those walks. I just listened and learned. Those times taught me so much about life and my career as a coach. In fact, I can relate what I learned on this walks to the famous line in Aesop's fable, The Tortoise and the Hare, 'slow and steady wins the race.'"

Weber spent 18 years as an assistant coach under former Purdue men's basketball coach Gene Keady.

Wooden's quote in the chapter, "Most people have a tendency to look for shortcuts or at least for the easiest way to complete any given task."

That is a lack of patience.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)

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