Thursday, May 22, 2014

My Favorite Quotes

In the last issue of THE ENCOURAGING LEADER, we highlighted some of the best books to help you become a better leader.  This issue’s theme centers around quotes.  We asked a number of leaders to write about their favorite quote and what it means to them. 

Just as I am obsessed with reading books, I love quotes.  The first motivational quote that I ever learned was “Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal”.  When I was an aspiring junior high basketball player in Michigan, the state’s Mr. Basketball was a player out of Saginaw by the name of Mark Macon.  He went on to have a great career at Temple University.  I saw him featured on a CBS special.  In the segment, he mentioned that quote.  I wrote it out on a piece of paper and taped it to the wall next to my bed.  Every morning when I’d wake up, that was the first thing that I saw.    

That quote still resonates with me.  Through the years, I have worked with many athletes and that quote is still a go-to for me.  The Kentucky Derby was held last week.  Every time I think of horse racing, I am reminded of this quote.  Horses have blinders on that keep them from seeing what is beside them.  All they do is look straight ahead.  They focus on where they need to go.  We’d do well to remember this concept.  Why get caught up in drama, distractions, detours or disillusionment?  Set your eyes on the prize and focus on the goal.

Friday, December 20, 2013


I admit it; I am an obsessed reader.  I normally read 2 or 3 books at a time.  There is the book that I read when I am on the stationary bike; there is my evening time book next to my bed; and oftentimes a book for when I travel.  My wife has a Kindle Fire, but I am old school and prefer paper books so that I can dog-ear the pages and highlight certain sections.

The books highlighted in the latest edition of THE ENCOURAGING LEADER are books that I'd recommend for anyone in any field that wants to be successful.  The books are:

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Dave Ramsey's Cookie Cutter Answers Taste Good

Today I read an article by a financial "expert" saying that people should not listen to Dave Ramsey and his financial advice because people's lives are too complex and important to be boiled down into short cookie cutter answers or platitudes.  Unfortunately, many other financial analysts have also had problems with his method of advising people on how to be financially successful. 
Dave Ramsey is probably known best for his stance on avoiding debt.  If you happen to be in debt, then he wants you to get out of debt.  Debt is a shackle around your ankle.  It keeps you from ultimately having financial freedom.  His radio show is heard by millions of people daily.  He seeks to help his callers get a handle on their finances during the few minutes that he talks with them.  His 7 "Baby Steps" are the basis of what he talks about.  His book The Total Money Makeover is one of the best financial books I have ever read (the other would be Larry Winget's "You'reBroke Because You Want to Be").

Monday, December 16, 2013

Bechler Becomes RedHawks All-Time Wins Leader

written by Wade Neely for

PULASKI, Tenn. – In addition to guiding his squad to one of the best starts in program history this season, RedHawk Women's Basketball head coach Jamy Bechler recently made program history on a personal level as he became the program's all-time winningest head coach earlier this season.
Bechler, who is in his fourth season at Martin Methodist, earned his 58th career win with the club's 91-84 victory over No. 14 Faulkner (Ala.) on Nov. 16, passing Jana Williams for the most wins in program history. Williams recorded 57 victories during her four years as the program's head coach from 1996 to 2000.

During his four-year tenure at the helm of the RedHawks, Bechler has been responsible for a number of accomplishments, including a win over a ranked team in each of his first four seasons. Ironically, it was Bechler's latest victory over a ranked opponent that lifted Bechler to the school's all-time wins mark.

Friday, July 5, 2013


"Don't tell me how rough the water is, just bring the ship in"...This quote showed up on Kobe Bryant’s twitter feed during this past year as a “Mambo-ism”.  However, I don’t know who originally said this.  I have said similar things for years.  Among them is the one quote that my players always roll their eye at when I say ‘Don’t tell me about the labor pains, just show me the baby.’  One of my former bosses was Andy Carter.  He was the Vice President of Athletics when I was at Newberry College.  I remember him always saying that ‘if it was easy, I wouldn’t need you’.  That has stuck with me to this day.  Each of us have certain strengths that we bring to the table.  We have a responsibility to utilize these strengths to attain success.  Another thing that I constantly say that gets an eye roll from my players is when I ask them what is in the middle of all excuses.  I then proceed to tell them that the answer is ‘U’.  The same can be said for what is in the middle of all results.  Obviously, there is team work involved in a lot of what we do and most of the time, we are not on an island.  However, we must take the approach that we must do everything that we can do to be successful.  John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach, once said ‘Do not let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do’.  You have heard it said that you are normally part of the problem or part of the solution.  You may not be able to do everything, but you can always do something.  If we wanted to, we could sit around forever coming up with reasons why we can’t do something.  That is not productive.  What can we do?  How can we make things better?  Sure, there are many challenges that come our way that might appear to be insurmountable, but what kind of attitude do we take?  I know it’s cliché but we need to have a can-do approach. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


While watching ESPN’s 30 for 30 entitled “Broke”, I heard Herm Edwards say "Every goal needs to have a plan or else it's just a wish."  The context was regarding athletes and the way they handle money, but I thought it was a perfect quote for more than just money.  As someone that works with college students on a regular basis, I see this problem all the time.  People want things but they don’t always know how to get those things.  Even worse are the people that don’t really want to work for those things that they say they want.  I’ve often said that hope is not a strategy.  Sure we want to have hope but that can’t be all.  It’s very similar to wishing.  Wishing is also not a very good strategy.  The Bible even has a verse that says ‘Faith without works is dead’.  The late singer, Rich Mullins, wrote similar lyrics when he said ‘Faith without works is like a screen door on a submarine’.  You can’t just want or wish for something to happen, you need to do something about this.  You need to work up a plan to achieve your goal.  Author John Ortberg has stated that ‘If you want to walk on water than you’ve got to get out of the boat.’  This is similar to what I heard Bobby Knight say once ‘Every one has the will to win but not everyone has the will to work to win.”.  Yes, having faith or dreams is a start, but action has to go into these goals in order to have a better chance to be successful.  What are your goals?  It’s important to define them.  But go further, what is your plan to achieve them?  Former NFL quarterback, Todd Blackledge, once said ‘Work will win when wishing won’t’.  Just remember that it wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


"Success is a Choice" ... I first heard this phrase when Rick Pitino wrote a book that had this as the title.  It is one of the best quotes I have heard.   In fact, I have borrowed it as the primary motto for my basketball program over the years.  It goes on all of our letterhead, locker room posters and motivational pieces.  In general, every person has the choice of how they act and behave.  Oftentimes, people say that they had no choice to explain why they do something.  You always have a choice.  The author and speaker, Charles Swindoll, is the person credited with saying that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to the things that happen to you.  Success may not be as quick as you would like but doing things right and making the right choices and decisions will almost always lead to success.  Of course, the definition of success is not always the same for each person so it is important to define what success is to you.  Your actions and behaviors are your choices.  If you choose to do things that have a positive effect on your future then you’ll be closer to being successful.  Unfortunately, the converse to this statement is also true.  Failure is a choice, as well.  One of my coaching mentors, Denny Lehnus, used to say all the time ‘what you do is what you believe; everything else is just talk’.  When I was leaving Kent State University after serving as Gary Waters’ graduate assistant for two years, Coach Lehnus hired me as one of his assistants at Anderson University.  I found out first-hand that he knew what he was talking about when it came to taking what you believe and what your goals are and turning them into good choices.  A few years before I was hired by Coach Lehnus, he had lost a little more than 200 pounds in a year.  At one time, he weighed more than 400 pounds.  He continues to maintain his new health to this day.  Remarkably, even though he lost the weight in a year, the success was and still remains a continual day by day process.  As Robert Collier once said, ‘Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out.” 

Sunday, March 31, 2013


The following excerpt is from Bill Plaschke's article in the L.A. Times about Kirsten Moore, the head women's basketball coach at Westmont College.  She recently led her team to the NAIA National Championship.  This story is an amazing example of perseverance and overcoming adversity.  Kirsten is a first-class individual and is well-respected in the coaching profession.  She certainly has a bright future ahead of her in the coaching world, but as you'll see from Plaschke's great article, it is her past which fuels her present and future.

For Westmont College women, sadness fueled an ardor on the court

The women's basketball team at the school south of Santa Barbara rallied around Coach Kirsten Moore and her baby after her husband died unexpectedly. Their crowning gift to her was an NAIA title.

Mom and daughter, feeling like champs
Westmont College women's basketball coach Kirsten Moore and 9-month-old daughter Alexis, wearing the net cut down after the title game. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times / March 31, 2013)
MONTECITO — Her final pep talk wasn't a pep talk at all. Kirsten Moore was beyond pep.
Her final pep talk, given while surrounded by her Westmont College women's basketball team before the NAIA national championship game, was her chance to say thanks.

Moore thanked her team for keeping her soul alive. She thanked them for sitting in the third row for her husband's funeral, for playing with her infant daughter in the third row of the team bus, for sharing her pain and embellishing her joy. She thanked them for their patience when she was weeping at an unseen memory, or staring blankly into an uncertain future, or disappearing just before tipoffs to nurse her child.

"Thank you for loving me," she said.

By the time Moore finished talking, most of her players were crying so hard they couldn't see. They couldn't focus. They couldn't move.

They couldn't lose.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

It has often been said that “Defense Wins Championships”. As a college basketball coach, I am certainly aware that there are a lot of factors that work together to contribute to a team winning a game and eventually a championship.  However, I am convinced that defense is the most prevalent common denominator when it comes to successful teams. As I recently served on the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Women’s Basketball Tournament Committee, I got a first-hand view of the importance of defense. Time after time, we saw post-season games between nationally ranked teams that were in the 50’s, 40’s and even one was in the 30’s. Many of these teams were scoring machines during the regular season. They didn’t just forget how to score when it came time to play the national tournament. Instead, the defense was amped up to another level. If you were a good defensive team during the season, you were a great defensive team during the tournament. The old adage may seem too simplistic but there is no question that defense puts your team in a position to win any game that they are in.

In the four NAIA quarterfinal games, defense got it done as the four losing teams were held under their season scoring averages by 34, 28, 25, and 19 points. In the two semi-final games, the losing teams scored 31 points and 26 points below their season scoring averages. This might only be a small sample size, but the eight teams that we are talking about were the ranked #’s 1-8 in the final NAIA Coaches Poll. They are loaded with talent and know how to win. For these established teams with elite players to be held so far under their season averages cannot be a coincidence. Most of these teams are among the highest scoring teams in the nation. They are also among the best on the defensive side of the ball. When great offenses were pitted against great defenses, the defenses won…at least in this year’s NAIA women’s national tournament.

Other interesting facts about the composition of the eight women’s basketball teams in this year’s NAIA quarterfinals: 
  • The nation’s top- 4 scoring defenses made the final 8 teams.
  • 6 of the top 10 scoring defenses made the final 8 teams 
  • The two teams in the championship game (Lee University with coach Marty Rowe and Westmont College with coach Kirsten Moore) were ranked among the top 10 scoring defenses.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Coaching Short List for Athletic Directors


This is the time of the year when there are a lot of open basketball coaching positions.  All great athletic directors should have some kind of a working list of potential replacements if they should ever have an opening in one of their sports. Yes, they can accept resumes but they should have some names and ideas of people that they might want to go after.  This is the same whether you are a DI athletic director or a small college athletic director.

After finishing up my second year of serving on the tournament committee for the NAIA Women’s Division I Basketball Championship, I wanted to highlight a few coaches that would be good options for an athletic director to include on their short lists. Realize that all coaches that appear in a national tournament have accomplished great things and done a good job of getting their teams to that point.  However, these are just a few of the great coaches that I observed over the last two years that I wanted to highlight.  Some coaches I didn’t put on this list because I know that they are completely entrenched in their current position and I wouldn’t be able to hire them away if I was an AD.  Others have left the NAIA already (like last year’s championship game coaches, Mark Campbell at Union and Rob Edmission at Oklahoma City) so they were not eligible to make this list.  

Kirsten Moore (Westmont University)
This is a no-brainer for any athletic director at any level.  She won the 2013 NAIA NationalChampionship.  She is the first female national championship coach since 2004 when Lori Carter led Southern Nazarene University to the title.  If you are a Division I athletic director with an opening, especially anywhere in the western part of the country, then you should take a strong look at her.  Kirsten is highly respected among her peers.  She is on the Board of Directors for the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.  She is enthusiastic, has Division I playing and coaching experience, and has a lot of head coaching success.  She coached an Olympian, who was the National Player of the Year.  What’s more, her staff (Selena Ho, Emilie Johnson and Meghan Gnekow) is extremely competent and seem to have bright futures. What makes her winning a title this year even more remarkable is the fact that she did it despite enduring a tremendous personal tragedyShe has provided an amazing example to her players about perseverance and character this year.

Marty Rowe (Lee University)  
Ended the year with a 34-3 record after coming up short in the NAIA National Championship game this year. His record in 9-years at Lee University is an incredible 260-52 (28.8 wins per year).  He has been to the NAIA Fab-4 a total of three times with 2 different teams.  His 2004 Brescia University squad shocked everyone when they played their way into the National Semifinals before losing to eventual champions, Southern Nazarene.  His Brescia squads never had the resources that other teams did but he still managed to post a 131-65 record while he was there.  He is a great recruiter that has made a living of identifying potential DI kids early and then signing them before DI’s can really get going in the recruitment of them.  His teams score a lot of points, defend like crazy and are tough on the boards.  Basketball-wise, his teams have very few weaknesses.  Off-the-court, his teams exhibit a great deal of class.  In 2012, they won the NAIA’s Champions of Character Team Award.

Shelley Jarrard (Westminster University)
I do not know her personally and have only met her in passing.  However, I've been extremely impressed with the job that she does with her team.  All they do offensively is play team basketball, execute at a high level and get wide open shots.  On defense,they are prepared and play tough.  They are not afraid to mix it up.  She had 2 NCAA Division I and 2 Division II transfers on her roster so she certainly knows how to recruit.  She also is smart and secure in who she is as a coach.  This is evidenced by her luring long-time University of Utah head coach, Elaine Elliott out of retirement to be her assistant.  Coach Jarrard seems to be very passionate about her players.  You can tell by her interactions with her players that she has their backs.  It is obvious by her player’s behaviors and reactions that they are willing to be coached by her and respect her.  She was the 1989 Gatorade Player of the Year in Oklahoma before being an All-SEC First Team performer at Vanderbilt.  She coached for many years at Kansas State and Utah before taking over last year at Westminster.  In just two years as a head coach, she has already established herself as a top-notch leader.  Ironically, in both of her years as a head coach, Westminster has lost in the National Tournament to the eventual National Champs (Oklahoma City and Westmont). Her career record now stands at 79-16 (.831).  

Jeremy Lewis (Cumberland University)
After playing a brutal schedule last year and ending up 15-14, he went out and brought in 4 transfers.  Lots of coaches do this; however, what made this situation different was that most of his starters were still around.  He had 5 players this year coming off the bench that had been full-time or part-time starters at some point during their college careers.  It is remarkable that he was able to get all of his players to buy into playing for the team and not worry about playing time.  They went 33-3 this year and made it to the NAIA’s Fab-4 before losing to Lee University by 2. They played in the Mid-South Conference, which sent a total of 6 teams to the NAIA Tournament.  He lost only 3 games all year…by a total of 6 points!  For this special season, he was also named WBCA Region 5 Coach of the Year and is up for national honors, as well.  He has a special connection with his players, knows how to motivate and can absolutely get his team to play defense.

Bethany Miller (Biola University)  
I spent 10 days this year working side-by-side with her on the tournament committee.  I have never been around a person that was more astute and perceptive while watching basketball than Bethany.  There were a number of times that she picked up on things that teams were doing that I hadn’t picked up on….and they were teams that were in my own conference.  She spent seven years as an assistant at Biola being mentored and prepared by Coach Ken Crawford to take over.  She has a doctorate degree and could be making a lot of money in something other than small-college coaching, but she has a sincere love for the profession and really seems to desire the best for her players and team.  Can she coach?  This year she beat 3 ranked teams, while playing in the conference that included 2013 National Champs, Westmont.  Last season, in her rookie season, she led Biola to the Elite 8 after pulling off two giant upsets along the way including one against #7 ranked Lee University.  Watching her coach in last season’s tournament was impressive.  Getting to know her at this year’s tournament helped me to understand how she achieved so much success at last year’s tournament.