Dear Coach’s Circle Members,
We had a nice Thanksgiving weekend in the Bay Area winning both games in the Menlo Tournament. In the second game against Cal Maritime, the 22nd ranked team in NAIA Division II, we came away with a 77-64 victory.
If we can’t have Thanksgiving at home with our families the next best thing is being with a team that is filled with men that get along well and genuinely like one another. We had Thanksgiving in Danville at one of our freshman, David Gunn’s home. Another freshman, Jerry Karczewski, and his family also hosted it. A tradition we have going back many years is to ask each player to share what they are thankful for and one of their fondest memories from past Thanksgivings. It may make the rest of us miss family a bit more but it gives the hosting families a sense of whom their sons are growing with. I am always glad we do it. And again, this year, the food was good, and the company even was better.
Whenever a milestone is reached, as was the case on Friday night when the team won my 500th victory (here is a link to an article written about the victory -http://presidiosports.com/2014/11/westmonts-moore-soars-to-500th-career-victory/
, there is an opportunity to reflect a bit. Though I do not have space here, nor do you want to spend a week reading, I would like to pay tribute and reproduce a few memories.
Some of these games were won during my tenure as the coach at Fresno Pacific College, and more than 400 were won at Westmont College, my alma mater. I remember the night in 1993 when Rachel, my wife, and I were standing in our kitchen in Fresno and the phone rang. It was President David Winter calling to offer us, and I do mean us (Rachel and I), the job. There are moments when one knows that life will never be as it once was, where one sees the turn in the road and welcomes it. This was one of those moments.
I remember in the spring of 1993, during my first weeks at Westmont, walking through the sunken gardens and praying a prayer of gratitude and pleading with God that I never take this privilege of working at Westmont for granted. I remember my first team and how they put up with a young coach who was still very green behind the ears and how their patience allowed us to grow together and have enough success to win the GSAC tournament and move onto nationals.
I remember learning how to become a better leader by listening to fine leaders like the man who, as the Athletic Director, was responsible for hiring me. Ron Mulder became more than a boss he became a dear friend and still is to this day. I remember learning how to become an effective teacher by watching in amazement at the giftedness of Crystal Jordan and Chris Milner as they unraveled the mystery of pedagogy. And I find myself remembering many fellow coaches who breathed life into their athletes because they understood the value of competing for Christ and His kingdom and wanted their charges to embrace these same values. They are Kathy LeSage, Riva Da Silva and Chris Elwood, Mark Basham and Kendyll McManigal, Curt Pickering, Gregg Afman, Chris Schultz and Kirsten Moore, Cathy Rex Rosilli, Scott Drake, Jim Smoot and Patti Cook, Mike Guiliano, Rebeccah Mouw and Kristi “Peach” Kiely, John Kirkgard, Bret Biegert, Warren, Dickey, Rob Crawford, Scott Deck and Rob Ruiz, and finally the two men who have coached every year I have been here, Russell Smelley and Dave Wolf. I am thankful to each of them.
There are many leaders at Westmont College who have inspired me. Dave Odell, our Athletic Director, has given our department guidance and leadership that has been honoring of God and those of us who are here to serve. Every time I have longer than a two-minute conversation with Dave I leave with a profound message.
So much of what community members know of Westmont College is based on our leaders – our students and our Presidents.
I am incredibly proud to be at an institution where our Presidents have led with compassion, humility and grace. David Winter’s words and actions have guided me towards greater compassion, Stan Gaede taught me how to lead by teaching me how to follow, and Gayle Beebe deepened my understanding of what it is like to be a man filled with gratitude and grace.
I must mention three other administrators who have impacted me deeply. Shirley Mullen, Jane Higa and Mark Sargent have made me smile, and have brought me to tears (good tears), they have made me want to think more deeply, and care more vividly, and they have helped me to desire understanding and thoughtfulness over arrogance and ego.
I am not sure any coach in America was given a greater gift than I was when I began at Westmont College. This gift came in the form of Jeff Azain, who has coached with me for all of my 22 years at Westmont. He is wise, he is capable, and he is conscientious. And he is loyal to me, to Westmont College, and to our players. We have sat next to each other on the bench and on airplanes, slept next to each other on bus rides and in hotel rooms, and coached and taught next to each other in Murchison Gym. And every year he keeps getting better. It is like a great marriage – he makes me a better man.
I have had the honor of coaching basketball with many others in my 22 years here. They are Jim Dykstra, Bruce Watts, Leslie Crandell, Brett Rodgers, Brett Mitchell, Steve Venables, Ralph Lewis, Josh Ware, Shogo Fukuda, Zac Zepponi, and a special tribute to the two who have done it longer than anyone else besides Coach Azain - Rob Goodrow and Larry Knapp.
I cannot and will not mention players by name but I will say, as I did at our Thanksgiving dinner at the Gunn’s home, that I am thankful for the men I have had, and continue to have, the honor to coach. They are not perfect but they are striving to become men of greater substance. They strive to become men who stand in the gap for others. I do not know why God has chosen me to do what I do, but I do know that he has and that is enough….and for this I am forever thankful and filled with determination to be the best I am capable of becoming.
PS – And finally, I want to embrace and sincerely thank those of you have been supporters both in the stands and from great distances,
those who have helped me walk through challenging times and those who have celebrated with unabashed exuberance, and finally, the prayer warriors. You all know who you are and I am so, so grateful for you.
PSS -And finally, truly finally, my family has been precious beyond belief. I am a very fortunate man.