Another hour later I heard steps again, but this time I waited…… (Part II) Here I was in a city I had never been, with no money in my pocket, waiting for a coach to hire me for a job that paid zero. I’m standing in this strange hallway wearing a rust colored threepiece suit, trying to keep my eyes open from lack of sleep and yet… IT ALL MADE PERFECT SENSE TO ME. Then I blinked and reality set in HARD as I heard the footsteps coming down the hall. This wave of fear swept through my body. “I made a huge mistake. What the hell am I doing here and why didn’t I think this through?” I didn’t think at all because I was OBSESSED. I was obsessed with becoming a college coach. If even for only a minute, I wanted to tell the world I did it. As the gentleman opened the door to the basketball office I was paralyzed. I couldn’t speak let alone stick my hand out, so I just stood there looking like a complete moron. He turned to me and smiled and closed the door behind him. I headed back into the hallway trying to gain enough courage to knock on the door. After another 30 minutes (which seemed like hours) I said to myself. “Here I go”. Now, in today’s era of technology, if you want to find out about a coach, school or basketball program, you just Google it. Not so in 1982. The internet, cell phones and information at your fingertips was just a concept. Kevin Wilson, the man who I was hoping would give me my first coaching job, was a complete unknown to me. I knew absolutely nothing about the man, EXCEPT, that he had taken the time to write me a hand written note offering me a CHANCE. Only later did I learn who he was and how connected he is. AND… that in a very short time he would take me under his wing and become the mentor for me in this profession of coaching. I knocked on the door and this hyper, balding man answered and said, “Hi Gary, what took you so long?” Turns out that Andy Reid told Kevin I was there and Coach Wilson was timing me to see how long it would take for me to approach him. After the initial embarrassment of stuttering to introduce myself, I composed myself enough to except Coach Wilson’s invite inside. Without me doing too much talking he offered me the opportunity to “help out SFSU”. Turns out my last minute decision to drive all night got me the job. As I would learn later, Coach Wilson was connected and had been Bill Musselman’s right hand man at Minnesota. He played for Muss at Ashland College. Minnesota was loaded back then with players… including one that would become instrumental in my future in this profession.
NOW I WAS SET! I was a college basketball coach at 23, working for a guy who I thought was the best coach in America and I would learn everything I could and work my way up the ladder and become famousâ€Ś WRONG! (My 1st game as a college coach at San Francisco State University. Age 23. Beard, carnation & doing my best Digger Phelps impression. Rolled up program in my hand aka John Wooden. Coach Wilson is standing behind me. Little did I know what was in store for me over the next 25 years.)
Part III coming tomorrowâ€Ś
Published on Aug 17, 2011