My own small tribute to Coach John Wooden by Cathy Sandeen

As I wrote in a previous post one of our big events this summer was the UCLA Extension Certificate Graduation Ceremony.

During my remarks, I felt it was especially fitting this year to convey to the students, their friends and family members some of the special wisdom imparted by recently deceased and beloved UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, including several of my personal favorite John Wooden quotations. I reproduce a portion of my remarks for you here:

“As many of you know, UCLA recently hosted a memorial to John Wooden, its legendary basketball coach, who passed away at the age of 99. Coach Wooden led the UCLA Bruins basketball team to hundreds of victories, an unprecedented 10 NCAA Championship titles, including 7 consecutive titles. More important than this, Coach Wooden’s legacy was his ability to instill character and leadership among his players. Many of his words of wisdom ring true today and I am pleased to share some of these with you today.

 First, for example John Wooden once said:

‘There is no substitute for hard work. If you’re looking for the easy way, if you’re looking for the trick, you might get by for a while, but you will not be developing the talents that lie within you. There is simply no substitute for work.’

I know that you, our students, do not believe in the easy way. You are sitting here today only because of your willingness to work hard and make sacrifices. You are the stars of today’s ceremony. It is definitely your time, your time to shine.

 But remember, Coach Wooden has also said:

 ‘The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.’

So now I want to recognize the “rest of your team:” your family and friends who have supported you every step of the way. Some of that support was logistical, some financial, some emotional—all of it vital to your success. UCLA Extension classes typically occur in the evening and on weekends—and some of you have moved here from around the globe to study with us. For all students, your families and friends have given up precious time they normally spend with you. Let us all take a moment to recognize and thank this special group of people who have helped you accomplish your personal and professional goals.

 Remember this final thought, again from Coach John Wooden:

 ‘It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.’

So tonight is the end of one chapter, but the beginning of many others. You have proven yourselves to be lifelong learners. It is my dream for you that like John Wooden, you will never, ever stop learning and growing.”

(Excerpt from remarks by Dean Cathy Sandeen. UCLA Extension Graduation Ceremony, June 29, 2010.)

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