Cory Weismann, two Coaches, and a Story Told by Frank Deford
We lead by being human. We do not lead by being corporate, professional, or institutional. (Paul G. Hawken, founder, Smith and Hawken)
Quoted by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Pozner — Encouraging the Heart: A Leaders Guide to Rewarding and Encouraging Others
A suggestion – stop what you are doing and listen to this segment on NPR’s Morning Editon by Frank Deford: When There’s More To Winning Than Winning. (audio, plus transcript, available here). (Frank Deford’s commentaries are consistnegly great treasures).
Here’s how he starts:
When last we left the NCAA, it was February madness, colleges were jumping conferences, suing each other, coaches were claiming rivals had cheated in recruiting — the usual nobility of college sports.
And then, in the midst of all this, the men’s basketball team at Washington College of Chestertown, Md., journeyed to Pennsylvania to play Gettysburg College in a Division III Centennial Conference game.
It was senior night, and the loudest cheers went to Cory Weissman, No. 3, 5 feet 11 inches, a team captain — especially when he walked out onto the court as one of Gettysburg’s starting five.
Yes, he was a captain, but it was, you see, the first start of his college career. Cory had played a few minutes on the varsity as a freshman, never even scoring. But then, after that season, although he was only 18 years old, he suffered a major stroke. He was unable to walk for two weeks. His whole left side was paralyzed. He lost his memory, had seizures.
The story is one that will stop you in your tracks. It is a about a basketball coach, and another basketball coach, and a group of players, who remembered that being human was more important than anything else.
Cory had worked so very hard — to walk, to run, to participate in the pre-game drills. But he was far from being a college-level basketball player after his stroke.
On the last game of his last season, the coach started Cory Weissman. He played just a few moments. But what moments!
And then, at the end of the game, with the game fully decided, the coach put him back in the game. The other team’s coach called time out, and asked his players to intentionally foul Cory to give him a shot, a chance to score a point from the free throw line.
Shot number two: The ball left his hand and flew true – swish, all net.
Deford ended with this:
The assistant vice president for athletics at Gettysburg, David Wright, wrote to Washington College: “Your coach, Rob Nugent, along with his staff and student-athletes, displayed a measure of compassion that I have never witnessed in over 30 years of involvement in intercollegiate athletics.”
Cory Weissman had made a point. Washington College had made an even larger one.
“We lead by being human.” Yes, we do.