I wanted to stand up and yell, “I FOUND MY PURPOSE”, but I didn’t, because I knew if I did, my brother would beat my ass. Instead, I just sat there and grinned from ear to ear like I’ve never grinned before… (Part VI) Lyle Damon had been the long time Head Coach at SFSU, but had taken a leave for one year. He planned on coming back for the 1982-1983 season before he retired. Coach Wilson would then take over at the end of the season. This was my opportunity to spend more time with Coach Wilson learning how to be an assistant coach. I HAD NO IDEA WHAT THAT INVOLVED. My first day on the job, I wanted to impress Wilsie (my nickname for Coach Wilson, since he labeled me, Trousie) with how committed I was to being an assistant coach. I set my alarm early and planned to be at the office by 7:15am. I was under the impression that we’d be in the office all day, so I dressed the part in slacks and a blazer. I wanted to look professional. FIRST MISTAKE! I walked in the office bright and early @7:15am and to my surprise and disappointment, Wilsie was already at his desk. HE WAS WIRED! I mean WIRED! It was like he’d had 30 cups of coffee because he was bouncing off the walls. “What the hell is he wearing?” I thought. Wilsie had on bright yellow sweat pants and a purple top which matched the school colors, but made him look like a balding crayon at first glance. “Trousie, what took you so long?” I remember him saying. “I gotta teach you how we run Gator Basketball!” and chuckled like he had this initiation planned for this sorry ass 23 year old from laid back San Diego. I modestly sat at my desk and waited. “Chips and a pop?” he asked. Now it’s 7:30ish and he’s asking me if I want chips and a pop. I was confident that weighing 185 pounds would be history. I took the bait and agreed to his “breakfast of champions”. He jumped out of his chair and said, “Lets GOOOOOOOOOO!” I learned then that “chips and a pop” meant much more then going to a vending machine. We walked and walked and walked. I realized that his plan was to walk the entire campus. Now SFSU is an enormous university, so this was no 20 minute trip. We hit every important office on campus from the President to video production, all the while, Coach Wilson would stick his head in each door yelling, “GATOR BASKETBALL!”. That was it, “GATOR BASKETBALL!” By now, I’m thinking, “This guy is nuts”, but I LOVED IT! About halfway through it was my turn. “GREAT…I couldn’t wait”, I thought frantically. Now everyone on campus knew Wilsie, but NOBODY knew me. I sheepishly asked Coach Wilson if I could wait until tomorrow. HUGE MISTAKE! I sucked it up and proceeded to stick my head in the first office door and whispered, “Gator Basketball”. Wilsie laughed about as loud as he could laugh. RIGHT THEN, I questioned my decision to be a college coach. I wanted to crawl into a trash can and tell him to stick it up his “Gator Basketball Ass”. BUT I DIDN’T. SFSU is located in the south end of the city, so the Daly City fog would roll in early and stay the entire day which made it very cold. I bring this up because a quarter of the way through my “chips and pop”
venture, I was dripping with sweat. I’ve never seen anyone walk as fast as Wilsie. NEVER! I mean this guy didn’t walk, he sprinted. Keeping up with him was impossible. At one point, I was 50 feet behind him and couldn’t do a damn thing about it. I imagined the 20,000 students on campus watching this purple crayon dart through campus with some loser in a sport coat trying to keep up with him. I went from feeling on top of the world to realizing that an assistant coaching job is like being the bitch of the program. Doesn’t mean an assistant coach isn’t valuable, just rock bottom on the coaching ladder. I DECIDED THAT IT DIDN’TMATTER! Nobody was going to break me, not even “King Wilson”. I learned that day that marketing your program was top priority. Anyway you can, MARKET, MARKET, MARKET. Coach Wilson was a master of marketing. He taught me things that were ingenious in promoting your program. X & O’s were important, but as an assistant that is your lowest priority. From that first day on the job, I became a sponge, learning every trick in the book from the master. And it paid off BIG TIME. Three hours…YES, 3 HOURS later, we made it to the vending machine down the hall from our office and he bought me “chips and a pop”. My first initiation to college basketball was painful, but I was so intrigued by how different things were than what I had envisioned that I became more obsessed with this strange profession and immersed myself into Gator Basketball, or actually I should say, Coach Wilson.
Me, after a "chips and a pop" session. Beat down but not busted!