As a student at UCLA, I was eager to read John Wooden’s A Game Plan for Life: The Power of Mentoring. I had never known much about the famous coach even though my grandma and grandpa attended UCLA during the Wooden era. As soon as I began reading though, I understood why this man was such a legend. More than a coach, he was a teacher and an inspiration to not only basketball players but to every student, including myself.
The book is structured into two parts: the first portion is composed of Wooden’s mentors, which include Joshua Wooden (his father), Earl Warriner (his elementary school principle), Glenn Curtis (his high school basketball coach), Piggy Lambert (his Purdue basketball coach), Mother Theresa, Abraham Lincoln, and his “beloved” wife, Nellie. The second portion of the book is written by six individuals that were mentored by Wooden: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (All American basketball player), Bill Walton (All American basketball player), Andy Hill (UCLA basketball player), Roy Williams (coach at North Carolina University), Dale Brown (college basketball coach), Bob Vigars (a special education teacher), and Cori Nicoholson (his great granddaughter).
Each portion of the book had something unique to offer, but an overwhelming theme throughout the book is that a person should serve both roles as mentor and mentee. We must be open to learning but after we have learned, it is our duty to share this information with others. Wooden writes, “Knowledge is nothing unless it is shared.”
I loved Wooden’s concept of mentoring; a mentor can be anyone, even someone that you’ve never met or that may not be alive anymore. A mentor is someone you admire, whose qualities you wish to embody. Being a mentor is not necessarily what you say, rather, it is “something you do and something you are.”
After reading this book, I consider John Wooden to be one of my mentors. I plan on reading more of his books and studying more of his life, especially his beautiful relationship with his late wife, Nellie. Some of my other mentors include Mr. Geib, Alex Castillo, Dallas Woodburn, and my Auntie Nette. I think we can have many mentors in our lives; there doesn’t have to be just one. Everyone has something to share and I believe that if we are not too proud to ask and humble enough to care, then we have something to learn from everyone.
Who are your mentors?