Fifty years this week I coached my first and only California State High School Champion in the shot put, Sam Cunningham. He threw 64’9” a mark that would have placed second this year. At the time I did not appreciate what an accomplishment this was. I was in my first-year coaching, 22 years old and pretty full of myself because I had coached a state champion.
Now fifty years on I realize that Sam was one the best athletes I would ever coach. I was too young to appreciate the accomplishment. Sam was a special athlete and a special person, a great competitor, leader and a great person. He would go on star on the football team at USC and the NFL.
The lesson is quite simple, enjoy every triumph, take the time to reflect, smell the roses and always put everything in perspective. There were many more medals and championships after that but none more special that that sunny day in June at UCLA in 1969.