ATHLETIC BANQUETS: PART 2 (72)

Earlier I wrote SPEAKING AT ATHLETIC BANQUETS (see article  14) .    I  do believe some took this to heart.    The North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame  (2013)  was well run.    I was pleased that our state inducted Mrs. Mildred Southern this year.    And Mildred stole the show (more to follow).    Her brief talk stimulated my thinking about the good talks, comments, and speeches I’ve heard at past athletic banquets.   I’ve selected a few,  some original,  some “stolen”,  and some used too often.    Mrs. Southern acknowledged Woody Durham’s glowing introduction by saying  “…yes, Woody, I’ve won a lot of tennis matches,  volunteered  a lot of time and effort and leadership , given money to support tennis and North Carolina  specifically.”   But then she revisited a simple beginning tennis lesson to a young boy :  “I tossed him a ball, and he missed it.   I tossed him another ball.  And he misses it.  Another and another,  and he missed”   An unspoken question  stirred through the audience :  How long is this going to go on?”   Mrs. Southern concluded,  “…then I tossed him a ball and he HIT IT”!    She paused,  then added, “…the look of joy on his face was why I  did it all”   She sat down.    WOW!     Last year (2012) my friend and certainly a coaching mentor,  Henry Trevathan gave a similarly remarkable and short talk…Remember  “1.  Practice is mine, 2. The game is yours, 3.  We rule the hall.”?   Kelvin Bryant got a good laugh this year when,  after the usual thank you’s,  he realized “…I guess I need to add my ATTORNEY to this list!”  Coach Russ Frazier told his wife they were moving to the beach!   She said she’d have to have a new bathing suit…”Why?”  Coach Frazier asked.   His wife replied, ” …cause the old one has a hole in the knee!”   At an Elon Hall of Fame banquet a recipient,  unable to attend,  simply sent a letter.  The next inductee,  Coach Sid Varney,  began by quizzically saying “…I  didn’t know you could send a letter!”  One tale on Coach Varney was that he took his football team to a game in Florida,  where their opponent vastly over matched  his team.   Six Elon players were injured to the point of hospitalization….Picking them up at the hospital the manager asked good Coach Varney  “…Coach,  should  I go in and get them?”   Varney’s reply:   “Nah!   Just blow the horn!”   Every school used to have some “hard” coaches..here are some standard comments.   Reporter:  “Coach,  what do you think of your team’s execution?”   Coaches response;  “I think it’a  good idea!”   Again—Stunned fan states “…that guy looks like he doesn’t know the meaning of fear.”   Coach: “THAT guy doesn’t know the meaning of a lot of words.”   Another coach summarized,  “…we started slow and tapered off”.   M.L. Carr did an interesting thing by honoring a friend.   While entering the NC Sports HALL of Fame “with your spouse”, M.L. was accompanied by a male.  Turned some heads.   M.L., when introduced said rather than spotlight himself he had elected to spotlight this friend,  a man who had befriended and mentored him as a  youngster in need of help.    He chose this special time to recognize his depth of appreciation for an unattached  person who saw  fit to help a  struggling youngster.   Bill Weathers was an inductee into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame some years back.   A fine golfer as well as a stellar tennis player,  Bill snuck up on us in this way:   He would cite a time he went off to play golf or in a tennis tournament and tell some detail about his “play”.   He would then add what his Wife did while he was away.   Bill described his use of that time, generally some kind of play.   He would then compare his wife’s use of that same time,  which included “minor” issues such as childbirth,  a job, child rearing, helping a friend in need, dealing with serious health problems, and the like.    She had done some truly tough and good things.   And while Bill used his time to thank and recognize her,  she rose to say “BILL WEATHERS—when we get home  I’m gonna kill you.”   What a fine woman and tribute.   Coach Jerry Moore asked his wife,  “…honey,  did you in your wildest dreams,  ever think this could happen to us?”   Wife’ answer?   “You weren’t in my wildest dreams.”   OUCH!    Actually this one has been passed around quite a bit.   We are getting more creative.   For years the old one about “Peahead’ Walker,  the Wake Forest football coach,  taking a Wake  recruit to Duke’s campus and later calling it our “western campus”, was told at every banquet.    Guilty myself ,  I used a line from a European tennis player,  who when asked about the inconvenience of coming from Europe for his induction into the  Intercollegiate Tennis Hall of Fame,  asserted “…I would have walked.”  Me too!   Here is a good opening line:   Inductee;   “What should I talk about?”  Monitor:  “Talk about 5 minutes.”  Remember  that one if nothing else.   An old timer,  “Lefty” Briggs  of Elon rose to accept his award:  “I’ve practiced my speech so much, I’m  too hoarse to give it.  Thank you.”   And sat down.   Bobby Bowden of Florida State University’s football  team spoke for F.S.U.  when they tied The University of Tennessee’s  women’s basketball team for ESPN Team of the Year.    Coach Pat Summit of U.T. was unable to attend and was represented by a U.T. athletics administrator who spoke of the tremendous strides of women American sports.   Coach Bowden struck a blow for male chauvinism when he followed her speech with this jewel:  “My  wife really wanted to be here.  She’s been planning for weeks.  Been packed for days.  But what the heck,  you can’t remember everything!”   Surely one can get over the line with smut, length, politics, religion, cliches, etc.   And not all great people are great speakers, or interviews.   I think its best to memorize you speech.   Have  a glass of water nearby.   And watch your emotions.       Humor is certainly helpful.   One source I’ve used lately is, oddly,  obituaries!   Here are a few examples.  1.  A  professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, bothered by all the recent criticism of athletics penned several obits that featured the deceased’s loyalties to college sports programs, i.e.,  “…he was a lifelong Tar Heel fan!”   Or,  “…ever loyal to the Wolfpack” etc.   One he cited was a man from Wisconsin.  He was said to “…love the  Badgers,  the Green Bay Packers, and MOST of his grandchildren.”   Another fanatic, no longer able to attend games in person,  watched his favorite school every time they were on TV,  “…often  from a three point stance.”   Most recently a Cleveland  resident and Cleveland Browns football diehard requested six players from the Browns to be his pallbearers.  He said he wanted the Cleveland Browns to “,,,let him down one last time”.    A man named Tom Taylor of Chapel Hill, and a cancer victim had called and asked if he  could renegotiate with the crematory.     His reasoning:  ” I’ve lost down from 180lbs. to about 120lbs and think I deserve a discount.”

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