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Choice not Chance: Rules For Building a Fierce Competitor by Joanne P. McCallie

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Chapter 13

A Message from Coach Smith and Coach Wooden

Winning Isn’t Always about Who Has the Best or Most Talented Players

What caught me a little by surprise in the summer after our loss to Baylor was the reaction our team received from a lot of people I never expected had been paying any attention to us.

On a Nike trip to Whistler, British Columbia, I found myself suddenly drawn into a conversation with legendary North Carolina coach Dean Smith. I had never met Coach Smith before and didn’t know he was going to be on the trip. He was accompanied by a bunch of other people from his state, and he suddenly walked over and began talking to me.

“I really like your team,” he told me. “Don’t tell anybody, you guys were my favorite women’s team this year.”

I was still upset and felt bad about losing the championship game, and I started talking to Coach Smith about his career. He said, “If I can remember correctly, the first time we went to the Final Four we lost the first game.”

I looked at him and smiled, and then he said, “That makes you ahead of me.” His gracious remarks simply overwhelmed me at that moment. Coach Smith was such a gentleman, and I couldn’t help it when a tear started to run down my face. His claim that I was ahead of him was the biggest joke I had ever heard.

Another incredible event took place that same summer, when I received a package in the mail. It was a children’s book from iconic UCLA coach John Wooden. I had no idea why he had sent it, but he included a ...

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