A Coach’s Dilemma … Or Is It?

A coach I know took his first-year, semi-pro football team to a national championship game where they lost by less than a handful of points. Disappointed, the team players and coaches resolved that night to get back those points and win the championship in the next season.  To a man, they agreed on the goal.

A month later, the head coach found he must choose between that goal and another, far more important one: he must decide  — now that information that some of his players do drugs in their private lives, spilled onto his desk — between drug testing his players and coaches, or saying nothing.  Should he let the season unfold and hope for the best?  Should he inform authorities?  Should he call a meeting, blast his players and risk losing his core team?

This coach’s dilemma magnifies life.  A coach leads not only his life, as each of us does, but also the lives of every member of his team, their families and fans. Coaching comes with awesome responsibility:  what happens on and off the field not only weighs heavily on the outcome of the games, but also on the outcome of the lives of many people, good and bad.

Good coaches never remain focused solely within the lines.

Questions of how to reveal the situation to all of the players, who to trust, and what will be the result, rumbled through the coach’s head.  Until he reached out and told someone else, asked others for advice and got other viewpoints, the situation remained a wrestling match of one.  The repercussions of his actions — right or wrong — would either decimate his team and talent pool or bring new, clean-handed talents with better championship qualities and greater potential.

Here’s what the coach did:

The head coach reaches out.  He speaks with other trusted, professional coaches, whom he knows and admires.  He listens to their advice and reminders that he alone must choose for his team.  And then he decides.

After all of the advice, the sharing of his concerns with family, coaches and close friends, he gets down on his knees and he prays.   The answer comes quietly: do what is the greatest good for the lives of the players, their families and fans. He stands up and knows the nature of his mission forward.

***

(Football is a game, so is the game of living; one is temporal, the other eternal.  All games have rules, winners and losers. All games involve choices. Football players must play within the rules on the field, but they are not going to step off the playing field of living, and so must choose to play within the rules of living, too.)

In the end, what to do about the situation and how to do it was clear to the coach, if uneasy.  He  ordered drug-testing for all players, starting with the coaches.

The fallout is unknown.  The new season is right around the corner.  It’s going to be interesting.

© 2012 by KuleBooks LLC. Reserved.

 

 

Giving Thanks … Again

This year the mood seems different.  Turkey Day is almost upon us, but I remember still the fireworks display on the 4th of July in Clearwater, Florida like it was yesterday.  Maybe I should get outside more often.

Truth is, I’ve been outside more than I’ve thought about it or been aware.  You see, I’m a creative writer working full-time. While my body sits at my desk and types my imagination and stories onto a screen, my mind (myself, really) travels “outside” and even back and forth in time.

So what does this have to do with Turkey Day?  This year I would rather keep writing than take time off and go visit my relatives across the state.  That is quite a change for me, since I come from a family of eight siblings and two parents (although Mom passed on years ago).  But my Dad is 92 years old and sounds older this year for the first time.  My thought is I better go see him again … you never know when the last visit is really the Last Visit.  I love my Dad.

Well, thanks for taking the time to read this.  You’ve helped me decide:  I’m taking the time off to see my Dad and the rest of the family.  And I’ll probably enjoy their company once I get there, like I always do.

I guess that’s something to give thanks … again.  Happy Turkey Day, my friends.

My Morning (and Daily) Routines Kinda Snuck Up on Me

Even though I’m a pretty methodical guy, who also likes to go outside of the box — is that oxymoronic? — I never thought about getting into a morning ritual, but I have.

First of all, I’m not a “coffee person.”  I just hop out of bed after doing some stretches while lying prone, do the morning stuff in the bathroom, and walk to my home office a few steps away.  That’s usually 8:30-9 a.m.

Next, I pick up the mouse to awaken the computer, click on Chrome and check emails for every one of my five (or is it six?) addresses.  If traffic needs reply, I could spend an  hour on the tasks before pondering which book project I feel like getting into first for the day.  Full-time author: freedom to choose, responsibility to spin good yarns.

More often than not I forget to eat.  My wife — thank you, honey — saves my bacon as she places food next to me on my writing desk.

My pick-me-up time hits me from 3 p.m. til about 5 p.m..  At that time I almost daily drink Emv (Energy to the power of MonaVie); a lightly carbonated, natural blend of exotic, organic fruits and plants, that tastes and feels like FUN!  It delivers a plant-source caffeine boost without any crash-and-burn effect.  In fact, the “natural high” leaves me alert for another 4-5 hour round of creative writing.

Typically, around nine in the evening I break for the day and share some reading, talk or TV-watching with my wife before either hitting the sack or heading back to my desk if inspired.  At any rate, lights out comes at 2 or 3 in the morning, every day.  Seven days a week.

Oh yeah, one more thing: blog time squeezes in between the emails and the creative wordsmithing.  Hope you like ’em.

Two Sales Tips

Two tips for handling objections:
1. Ignore them and keep going with your presentation, staying in good spirits with your prospects. A weak objection will fall away.

2. Laugh at the idea, not at your prospect. An absurd objection can be laughed at, followed by a really sincere request for an explanation of their objection. Really listen to what they reply, because either you will see the fallacy and then handle THAT … or you will see that it is legitimate and work out how your product or service is a solution for their problem.
copyright 2012 by KuleBooks LLC. All Rights Reserved.

 

CAROLINA BASEBALL 2012, POETIC JUSTICE

The upstart, 2012 University of South Carolina Gamecocks nearly achieved a historic, first-ever-in-college-baseball, 3-peat national championship. A motley crew of mostly freshmen, junior college transfers and a few veterans when the season began, Carolina’s boys became a respected group of young men in one difficult year that saw them failing halfway through the season, yet rally in the second half to become a real team of players that operated with unerring precision, despite amazing trials of fire, all the way to the Finals series of the College World Series in Omaha.  Along the way, one of the most-respected pitchers in college ball history, Michael Roth, pitched the last game of his storied, career as a Gamecock.

This short story brings to vivid life the age-old maxim, “It’s not the journey’s end but the journey that matters.”  I hope you’ll read it over on Smashwords or Amazon and let me know what you think.

The tale is also the “last word, the unwritten chapter” of the historical account of the Gamecocks’ baseball program history book, Carolina Baseball: Pressure Makes Diamonds, by co-authors J. David Miller and Ron Kule.  Available in limited edition, leather-bound edition — a great gift — through The Ray Tanner Foundation.  (Coming soon as an ebook online.)

This post is © 2012 by KuleBooks LLC. All Rights Reserved.  Permission to reprint may be obtained by contacting the author through kulebooksllc@gmail.com

Baseball’s Over … Maybe, Maybe Not!

Major League Baseball’s season is over.  San Francisco won the MLB World Series, and everybody went home or went hunting, some for a new position with a new team.

So, is baseball over now?  Hardly.

College baseball teams are playing intra-squad games in early preparation for next-season openers in February.  That’s right: February!  And, yes, it’s cold.

Three years ago I knew nothing, really, about college baseball teams.  I mean, my college days were the Sixties, and my school, Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, didn’t have a baseball team.   They didn’t even have a football team — they still don’t.   While I was the quarterback on my high school team, I had to adjust and learn competitive swimming at Oakland.   Not that I was a jock: in high school people called me an “Egghead.”

Fast forward.

In September 2009, I met by chance another writer, J. David Miller, a veteran sports journalist with 11 published books, writers’ awards and recognition and a 30-year career of published articles behind him.  My credentials included poetry submissions published in international anthologies, a couple of published short stories, a successful sales-training book and workshops and five, full-length feature screenplays sitting in my drawer next to my unfinished novel that languished for lack of writing time at 167 pages … waiting for me to get off the dime, marketing-wise.  (A top William Morris Agent had told me I was good and that I should stay in touch, but I hadn’t — go figure.  But that’s another, long story.)

So, J-David, as I got used to calling him even though he said, “Call me David,” took a shine to me.   We hit it off so well we became like blood-brothers.   That was when he told me about a book project that he needed to complete.   He had a commission to write a baseball book for a college program.  He told me all about the book and its purpose, which was to help a winning college baseball coach fund and build a special ballpark for physically challenged children, enabling them to play baseball for the first times of their lives.

I was immediately in.   A writer has to write, but here was also a worthwhile purpose not to be denied, I thought.  So I took a chance and called J-David and asked, “Would you teach me some of what you’ve learned in 30 years, if I do research for you on that baseball  book?”  David didn’t answer right away.  In fact, it was 10 days later before he called me and asked, “Ron, about that research offer … did you mean it?”

“Of course I did, J-David.”

“Good, because you are now my research assistant on the project,” he told me.

So, wholly based on our trust, I started to research the history of baseball, college baseball and the baseball program of the University of South Carolina Gamecocks, as well as the history of South Carolina.  I wrote creative articles to David, based on the data found.  The next thing you know, David, saying, “I knew you’d be good but not this good,”  elevated me as co-author on the book.  Something he never had to do, but did.

The ups and downs of America, South Carolina and the Fighting Gamecocks (as they were originally named), we discovered, had interesting parallels.   There were compelling anecdotes of conflicts: the struggle for America’s freedom, the struggle for equality among blacks and whites, which continued after the Civil War, and the struggle for America’s industrialization amid, at times, crippling weather and economic conditions, ran alongside the emergence of college baseball anywhere and specifically its self-propelled expansion in South Carolina’s Midlands.

A baseball team wishes recognition as the best among its peers, and the heritage of the circles of players in Columbia was no different.  The problem was, if they would be champions, they needed to find a full-time baseball coach for the program.  The task took 78 years!

In 1892, players paid for their own uniforms and didn’t use gloves.  Later teams played for coaches that were English professors, football coaches and, in one case, a demonic taskmaster interested in advancing his standing up to the professional baseball league!

Interestingly, while World War I, the Great Depression, World War II and the War on Segregation raged on outside of the baselines, Columbia baseball mirrored the moods of the country.   Eerily, as America went so went the wins/losses records of decades of  Gamecocks baseball teams.

At the instigation of football coach and athletics director, Paul Dietzel, in 1970 the university hired a full-time baseball coach, and the pattern changed.  Under the guidance of  Gold Glove, World Series MVP, veteran Yankee second-baseman, Bobby Richardson, the team consistently won more games than they lost.   America also emerged from the shadows of the Vietnam War, polarizing protests and the aftermath of the murderous debacle at Kent State.   Hollywood cranked out better movies, the music industry came into its heydays, and so did the Gamecocks.

But the College-turned-University of  South Carolina was missing a national championship in any major sport.  The trophy case on campus remained empty.

Coach Richardson took teams to Omaha and the College World Series, but they never brought home the grand prize.  His successor, June Raines, earned repeated trips to the event — no luck.  And then along came Yankee-aficionado, seasoned head coach, Ray Tanner, who would take his Columbia boys of spring to the “Best Show On Dirt” in Omaha several times and, in 2010, finally win the NCAA Division One College World Series — the first-ever, major-sport national championship for the school in 200 years!  What a celebration!  What a parade that followed in Columbia!

In 2011, most of the same players returned and, with the addition of new teammates, they joined the ranks of only seven other teams in college-baseball history by winning back-to-back national championships.   The 2012 Gamecocks ran their quest for a historic three-peat championship all the way to the Finals Series of the Omaha Classic.

Limited Edition, Leather-bound edition

To say that the book, Carolina Baseball: Pressure Makes Diamonds, written by J. David Miller and Ron Kule, which chronicles the historic rise to the top of one school, is only a college-baseball story with niche-market appeal is to miss the importance of the valuable life-lessons of baseball revealed within its pages.   Because the overcoming of hardships by dedicated people everywhere in America, who strive for emancipation from the boredom of complacency and lackluster production and seek a better life for their progeny; who find that sport, especially amateur baseball, provides not only entertainment, but lasting values and relief from worrisome, day-to-day situations, is a story worth telling, Miller and Kule wrote their detailed, fascinating and timeless tale,  Pressure Makes Diamonds. 

The book is available in limited-edition, leather-bound, hard-copy format at  www.TheRayTannerFoundation.Org.   By mid-November, the E-book edition will be available for all E-readers through Amazon and other online outlets.

For more information on Miracle League ballparks, go to www.MiracleLeague.com.  For more details on how to donate to building the ballpark in Columbia, S.C., or how to purchase Pressure Makes Diamonds in quantity for gift-giving, send an email to KuleBooksLLC@gmail.com.  Every purchase adds to funds dedicated to building the Miracle League field.

This article and its contents is © 2012 by KuleBooks LLC. All Rights Reserved.