Friday, August 14, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Kevin Stallings made the commitment to his Vanderbilt team that it would take a trip this summer to Australia -- and man, did he mean it.
The timing was perfect. Teams are allowed to go overseas for an offseason trip once every four years. Coaches always make sure the trips are done when it makes the most sense. Incoming freshmen can't go since the trips are supposed to occur when school is out of session, so having a veteran team coming back can maximize the experience.
Then a few months ago, reality hit. David Williams, Vanderbilt's vice chancellor for student affairs and athletics, met with Stallings in early spring and told him the money wasn't available for the trip.
"We had waited an extra two years, since it had been six years since we'd gone on a trip,'' said Stallings, whose program traveled to Italy, Spain and the Canary Islands in 2003. "I knew the university was facing a tough time just like the rest of the country. There were people losing jobs. There was so much distress economically for the university to shell out $100,000 for us to make the trip."
The majority of coaches would have likely just left the decision alone. But not Stallings, not with this team, not at a school that he has been so committed to the past decade -- a school that has as sterling a reputation for its ethical behavior as Stallings has within the college basketball community.
"I was convinced it was the right time for the program; it was a hard thing to let die,'' Stallings said. "So I went back to him and proposed the idea of me paying for it, and he agreed to that.''
Nevertheless, Stallings still had to convince his wife, Lisa. Foregoing $100,000 that the university would otherwise owe him as part of his salary is no joke. But this was the ultimate investment in his team, his program, and his future at Vanderbilt. If the trip is a success, it could ultimately be the impetus to catapult the Dores toward a banner season.
"I went home and was convinced the trip had to be made,'' said Stallings by phone from Melbourne, Australia. "I felt our players earned it, deserved it. And my wife said to me, as she usually does, to make sure I've thought it through. I gave it some thought and said it did [make sense]. Our players deserve this and it is an investment in my program.''
Williams, who is traveling with the team on the trip, wrote in an e-mail to ESPN.com that Stallings "did not want the story told, but I am glad you are writing it so all can see that while he is a great ballcoach, he also cares about what's happening around him."
"He understood why we could not pay for the trip at this time and stepped up to help the team and the school," Williams continued. "We are truly lucky and proud that Kevin Stallings is Vanderbilt's basketball coach. I am sure his generous and commitment will pay back a hundred times over."
"This wasn't a difficult decision to make,'' Stallings said.
"It wasn't something I had to labor over. The players are having a terrific time. We demand a lot in this program, but our guys work hard, play hard and conduct themselves with a tremendous amount of class, and that's important to me.''
Monday, August 10, 2009
- Below are a few great quotes I found on a few Twitter sites...
- "There comes a time when winter asks what you have done all summer"
- The price of greatness is responsibility
- "Surrender" is not in a CHAMPIONS vocabulary
- "ENCOURAGEMENT". It ENables players to play with the *COURAGE* to dare the difficult-without the fear of making a mistake
- CONFIDENCE determines whether our steps — individually and collectively — are tiny and tentative or big and bold.”
- You must be committed to do the things today that others won’t do, so tomorrow you will have the things others won’t have.
- A secret to success: ALWAYS exceed expectations. Even with the "small" stuff. Under promise and over deliver. Do more than is asked.