The Old Coach (57)

In 1983 I had a “Swedish revolt” on my hands. I had learned about “morning acclimatization’s” from the NAIA Nationals. The Swedes want to sleep longer. Chief spokesman, Thomas Linne, was 6’5” and looked like Alice Cooper.
“Why we got to get up so early”? I explained what I knew to be true. This tournament was often won by those who handled the early rises best. Besides, what difference does it make if you get up at 5:15am rather than 6:00am, both hurt like hell.

Thomas and I went back and forth. My point was I knew this tournament better than he and his newcomer countrymen. I finally told Thomas about ten unlikely things that would happen in the tournament. “You crazy”, said Thomas. “I know these guys, they not going to lose to those guys.” He better than him!” “No way he loses” etc.

My teams had played Kansas City twenty times. Lo and behold about eight of those ten unlikely predictions came true. We won the NAIA in 1984. Flying home I asked Thomas what he learned from the experience. He wrote the backhanded compliment on a notebook I held: “I learned to listen to an old man who’d been there. Even if I thought he didn’t know very much.” I used this sentence to preface my coaching handbook.

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