Dead People You Should Know: John Wooden

                John Wooden is considered by many to be the greatest to ever coach college basketball. While being the greatest of "ALL-TIME" is a big deal, it also can be controversial, but Wooden definitely has the resume to back it up.

                John Wooden was born on October 14, 1910, in Martinsville, Indiana to his parents, Hugh and Roxie Wooden. He was raised with three brothers on a farm without electricity. This way of life gave him a great work ethic. Wooden play basketball in high school, and after his graduation he attended college at Purdue University. At Purdue, he was selected as an All-American basketball player for three years, and he was named as the team captain as a junior. He graduated college with honors and a degree in English. He also won the College Basketball Player of the Year award and led his team to a national championship in 1932.

                After graduating from Purdue University, he was married to Nellie Riley and settled in as an English teacher and a coach of several athletic teams at Dayton High School in Kentucky. In his first year of coaching basketball there, his team’s record was 6-11; it turned out to be the only losing record of his coaching career. In 1934, Wooden went back to Indiana where he taught English and coached basketball, baseball, and tennis at South Bend Central High School. It was here where he created the famous “Pyramid of Success” teaching model. After serving as a Navy lieutenant in WWII, Wooden came back to Indiana where he became the athletic director and coach at Indiana State Teachers College.

                In 1948, Wooden became the basketball coach at UCLA, which, at the time, was a sub-par program with bad facilities. In his first eight years, his team won three Pacific Coast Conference titles. In 1960, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player. A few years after that, during the 1963-64 season, he led his team to a perfect 30-0 record and national championship. He won his first Coach of the Year award that year. The following season, he won another national championship. During the 1966-67 season, UCLA went on one of the most dominant runs in college basketball history. They won seven national championships in a row and produced some future NBA hall of famers. In 1973, Wooden was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame again, this time for his coaching. He became the first person to ever be inducted as a player and a coach.

                John Wooden’s coaching career ended in 1975 after 29 successful years. His career record was 664-162 (.804 winning percentage). His team also won 10 national championships during his career. He received the Reagan Distinguished American Award in 1995 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003. Now, every year the top men and women’s college basketball player each year receives the “John R. Wooden Award”.

                Wooden died in Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center on May 26, 2010 at the age of 99. He collected a great number of accolades and awards during his career, but he never let it get to his head. He did not necessarily care if he team won every game; he knew that you cannot win every game. What he did care about was that every player he ever coached succeeded off the court and in the future. He gave all of his players a good work ethic and taught them not only how to be good basketball players, but great people.

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