From Canada, thank you Coach Dean!
As a kid from Shanghai moving to a Midwest college town, I was enamored with simply two things, playing sports and watching sports. I saw the serene elegance of Ryan Sandberg’s swing and the sheer power in grace in Joe Montana. But lo and behold, it was the clamor of NCAA March Madness that left the longest legacy. As a kid, I was drawn to the odd Carolina Blue colors awkwardly matching the oak floors of Cameron and Smith Center. That is the captivating thing about sports, it is the small things, the ivy at Wrigley, the Green Monster at Fenway, the weird corner empty seats at Candlestick that are most memorable. Carolina had always been a great team, but as kids, we don’t even think about the legacy these images would leave in our adult life. Carolina fared consistently well in March Madness, their colors traversing up and down the court, with Dean Smith assuredly at the helm.
Life went on… school, marriage, career. Then in mid-career, a few promptings and nudges, and there I was at Chapel Hill, with my kids, where I decided to attend more schooling. My kids wearing Carolina Blue, with pompoms, our family was now suddenly all fans. For those who have not been to Chapel Hill and the Triangle, the intrigue of how one team, one man can define a town is an enigma. We owe lots to Dean Smith, a man devoted to his craft and fully invested in his players – more concerned of the man off the court than on the court.
I think one of the great things in life is bringing the best out of people. The setting in which our national sports are in is tarnished by immediate gains where people are as good as the commodity their shoes are worth. Dean Smith is really a hero, he is Carolina. He lived the Carolina way, he changed the course of the Piedmont area. His story is also the story of the state of North Carolina. But more so, he changed people. He taught players to be good and fair people, to live beyond the racial divide. To be a winner on the court is to be a winner in life, thank you!