It never ceases to amaze me that besides all of the great basketball drama; BUSTED brackets (especially this year on the men’s side), and upsets galore — there are always incredible stories of coaches and players that overcame adversity in their lives. These stories include tragedy, sickness, disappointments, and setbacks; but, the common thread is that through it all, these teams or individuals persevered!!
Let’s take a closer look at this year’s tournament:
- University of Tennessee Volunteers men’s basketball: In January, 2010: 4 Tennessee men’s basketball players were arrested during a
traffic stop for speeding near Tennessee’s campus. They were later charged with numerous misdeamor counts including possession of marijuana and illegal possession of a firearm. Head coach, Bruce Pearl, suspends these players (sending a strong message) and plays several weeks with 7 only players!! At the time, the “Vols” were 10-2 and ranked 14th in the country. In spite of this adversity, Coach Pearl continues coaching, motivating, utilizing the team he HAS in front of him and they end up reaching the Elite 8 and losing to Michigan State in a one point thriller, 70-69.
- Coach Frank Martin, now head coach of Kansas State’s men’s basketball team, was a newly hired assistant coach under Bob Huggins, at Kansas State, in March of 2006. While on the recruiting trail Frank Martin began to feel sick and he took some Advil, drank some water
and thought he could “sweat it out.” Before long, his temperature rose and he was shaking uncontrollably. Another assistant coach checked on him in his hotel room, saw his condition and Martin was rushed to the hospital, where his temperature soon rose to 105. Frank Martin was told he had pancreatic cancer, which has a survival rate of 4%. Devastated, he called his wife who had returned to their home in Cincinnati, of the news. Later the doctors returned with a prognosis of pancreatitis, and not cancer and that he would be ok. Pancreatitis has two high triggers of alcohol and high-fat foods and so through discipline and determination he has it under control. This year as head coach of Kansas State’s men’s basketball, he led them to the winningest season in Kansas State basketball history (29-3) and a birth in the Elite 8!!
- Finally, Tiffanie Shives, a 5-10, junior guard for Gonzaga University, was diagnosed with diabetes when she was 10 years old. Tiffanie overcomes adversity on a daily basis with the need to constantly check her blood sugar, take medication, monitor her diet; IN ADDITION
to being an outstanding student/athlete on one the most improved women’s basketball programs in the country! On top of the diabetic condition, Tiffanie also overcame a season-ending knee injury that caused her to sit out the ‘Zags, 1st win in the NCAA’s last year. Talk about overcoming adversity!!
These are just a few of the many incredible stories from this year’s tournament alone. I have been collecting stories like this for several years because they have inspired me! When I hear of these stories — it always reminds me of my favorite quote, “Adversity causes some men to break; and others to BREAK records” – William A Ward. How do you respond to adversity? Do you hide in a closet and lament “woe is me?” or “WHY me?” Or do you, like Bruce Pearl, Frank Martin, Tiffanie Shives, use that adversity to motivate you to persevere and WIN??!!! These people show me what’s important: “
It’s not about what happens to you; but what you DO about what happens to you” – AR Bernard
“March Madness Inspires Me” — to overcome “Life’s Challenges”