• One Shining Moment

    Posted: December 2nd, 2010

    Coach K was an inspiration to me once he became the head coach at Duke University in my senior year. What he taught me was there were plenty of lessons to be learned in life no matter what one does. That was evident when members of the basketball team would be seen through the hospital especially on the pediatric floor where I worked after graduation.

    I left Durham a few years later but have often returned either for personal or business and always have learned more of those life lessons that coach K taught me when I was a student at Duke.

    After I left Duke, my brother-in-law made a diagnosis of bipolar that changed my life. As I learned to live with mental illness, it was during this period that both my brother-in-law taught me not to be ashamed of this illness but also took the time to help me understand the illness I had. It was also Coach K that taught me to always lead with my heart for Coach K took the time to send me a note in one of my favorite books “Leading with the Heart”. I did just that as I learned to live with this illness. It was one of the best advice that was given to me during that period.

    About four years ago, the brother-in-law that diagnosed me with bipolar was himself diagnosed with a brain tumor. He like Jim Valvano fought to the very end and would never give up. As one fellow doctor stated, “with half of Jim’s brain taken, Jim still was able to successfully propose and orchestrate the opening of the Pennyslvania Psychiatric Institute”.

    After a four year battle with a brain tumor, my brother-in-law, Jim lost his battle in January of 2010. Jim left a legacy of providing for the less fortunate like the mentally ill, but most importantly he left behind three young boys and a wife. During this period, I often wondered what I could do to help and that answer finally came to me.

    As the end of the basketball season started to approach, as always the Duke basketball began to get ready for what is known as “March Madness”. As it became clear that Duke would be heading to Indy, I decided I would do what I could to get tickets to the final four and take my nephews that recently lost their father to the game. Since I was an Iron Duke I did manage to get at least two tickets and I was able to get two more tickets at a reasonable price. I did attempt to get two more tickets but my sister asked that I not go broke in the process. I did follow her instructions.

    On the Friday before the final four, we made the drive together. The excitement started to build for those boys, for as we drove we would see cars that had flags supporting their teams. On Saturday, each of the boys dress in their favorite college attire (Note: my brother-in-laws brother went to West Virginia and made a bittersweet tribute before the game to my brother-in-law, Jim). With four boys dress in their favorite college team attire, ESPN noticed it and filmed the boys when we arrived in Indy. The boys were thrilled with the prospect of making it on national TV and at that moment I realized I gave the boys one shining moment. Even though their pain and grief is still on going, that weekend gave the boys the opportunity to know that with time, it does get easier. It also made me realize where my help was needed as my sister and her family struggled with this illness and the after affects.

    Thank you Coach K and the 2009-2010 Duke Basketball for a wonderful weekend. Whether Duke had won or lost, I know that we won something very special. Those boys enjoyed that weekend immensely. When the announcement was made about a rematch of Duke vs Butler in Dec 2010, it was my nephews who contacted me to see what I could do to get tickets to that game. It will be a Christmas gift to the boys.


Belief can mean the difference between a fear of failure and the courage to try. On a team or in a family, belief makes each individual stronger and also fortifies the group as a whole. The basis of belief is in individual relationships.

- Coach K

You can possess countless good qualities as an individual, but if you don”t have the courage to proceed, you may never see those qualities come into fruition. It takes courage to put what you believe to be best of you on the line, to test it, and to see how far it takes you. Courage means daring to do what you imagine.

- Coach K
Collective Responsibility

We win and we lose together. Handling the responsibility for wins and losses together removes the burden from one individual’s shoulders and distributes it among each member of the team. That atmosphere is conducive to high-level performance and places you and your team in the position to be bold and unafraid, and if you should lose, you are not alone.

- Coach K

When you care about someone or something, you show genuine concern for that person or thing, in good times or bad. When you care about one another and about your purpose, you are compelled to put your feelings into action. Care creates an atmosphere that breeds success and gives you the confidence to try again.

- Coach K

Effective teamwork begins and ends with communication. Communication does not always occur naturally, and must be taught and practiced in order to bring everyone together as one. The most crucial element of communicating is telling the truth.

- Coach K

Adversity can teach you more about yourself than any success, and overcoming an obstacle can sometimes feel even better than achieving an easy victory. Through adversity, you can discover things about your endurance, your ability to turn a negative into a positive, and your personal strength of heart.

- Coach K

You have to adapt what you do based on who you are. In teaching, you must remember that no group or individual is the same as who you taught the day before, the year before, or the decade before. Your plan has to suit who you and your team are right now.

- Coach K

When you are winning, your commitment is never challenged. But loyalty and dedication during difficult times can be tough. When commitment doesn’t waver, that’s when you have the greatest chance of winning. You can never give up.

- Coach K

No matter how successful you believe yourself to be, you can never feel as if you’ve reached the absolute pinnacle. There are always new and wonderful challenges out there, and part of maintaining success is knowing when you need to accept them.

- Coach K

Take care not to allow one aspect of your life to so consume you that you neglect the others. Balance can put things in perspective, can bring you joy even when you are down, and can allow you to be at your best in all aspects of your life.

- Coach K
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