|Coach Bruce Pearl speaks to the campers at Sequoyah. My son, Casey, is sitting in the back in the white t-shirt.|
I got to watch all of the camp on Saturday and thought it was very upbeat, energetic, and overall great for those that attended. Unfortunately, the likes of Jalen Rose, CJ Watson, and Scottie Hopson were no-shows. Fortunately, in my opinion anyway, the best personality to show up was a surprise in former UT Head Coach Bruce Pearl. He gave a speech to end the camp and hung around for autographs and photos with kids and parents.
Now I am not a UT fan by any means, but I am truly a fan of Coach Pearl. I know, I know, he lied and tried to cover up a violation to the NCAA and yes, that is a terribly bad example to set. The whole incident has tarnished his name and almost completely reversed all the tremendous work he did at UT.
Pearl does, however, own up and take complete responsibility for those mistakes and doesn't hold a grudge against UT for firing him. In addition, he projects an extremely positive message and is still a tremendous influence in the community that he completely engulfed himself in the minute he arrived in Knoxville. I just can't force myself to do anything but like and route for him. Shoot, how many other college head coaches have taken their shirt off, painted a big orange T on their chest, and plant himself right in the middle of the student section, and lead cheers at a Lady Vols basketball game? You gotta love 'em.
Pearl's message to the kids in his speech at camp was tremendous and hit on a few important subjects and each of them carries over into the world outside of a gym.
The first was complimenting all of these kids for being there. Their commitment to being at the camp and working hard to get better while their competition is at home drives home a fantastic point. Their test of their true metal is what happens from here forward. Do they continue to work hard and build on the skills learned at this camp or do they stay content with what they have? Sounds like a true life lesson to me. Are you going to work hard to be the best at what you do, or are you going to stand pat on the talents you have? A lot of businesses have gone out of business by standing pat.
Building on top of that, he asked each one of these campers what their expectations were for themselves. Not just on the court but as a student, friend, son or daughter? He challenged each one of them to raise to set expectations for themselves and don't settle for not reaching those expectations. If you set a goal of achieving A's & B's in school and you are at a C level, do the extra work necessary to make that C at least a B. If you set a goal to be a better son or daughter, go home and do something extra that your parents don't expect. Like doing the dishes, or cleaning your room without being told. Raise the bar.
One of the best things he mentioned was to build on your strengths. Work hard to improve your short comings, but work even harder to build on your strengths. He used his former player, Chris Lofton, as an example. Pearl said that Lofton was a good shooter of the basketball when he arrived at UT, but that he absolutely lived in the gym shooting shot after shot until he became a phenomenal shooter. He did improve in his lesser areas of defense and ball handling, but his extra work as a shooter lifted him up to one of the best in the NCAA.
Each one of these suggestions by Coach Pearl can be applied to everything we do in our lives. If you ever get the opportunity to see him, he is a wonderful motivator and speaker. He is very animated and really uses his hands a lot making him neat to photograph while he is speaking as well.