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Young People Need Models, Not Critics.

On Oct. 9, 2015 my dear friend Dave Meyers, the star player on John Wooden’s 10th and final national championship basketball team at UCLA, passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 62.

In that 1975 National championship game, Dave scored 24 points and snagged 11 rebounds.

After that ’75 season Dave, a 6-foot-8-inch forward, was named a consensus All-American and became the second pick in the NBA draft. In 1980, after five productive years in the NBA, Dave retired to spend more time with his family.

Dave helped me direct our summer basketball camps for youngsters ages 6 to 16 from 1982 to 2008.

I never met a better model for young people than Dave. He was never a critic.

The camps were conducted at various high schools during August in Southern California. The activities were held in the gym and on the outdoor courts. Because of the heat, understandably, Coaches would prefer to run their instruction groups in the gym rather than outside.

Camp would start and Dave would enthusiastically announce: “I’ve got group one (the youngest campers), let’s go outside and play some basketball!” Group one would sprint to the outdoor courts chasing their 6-foot-8-inch NBA role model as though they were headed for courtside seats.

Dave modeled a positive attitude.

Once outside in the sun, Dave was nonstop; teaching every 6-year-old the correct way to play as though the future of the game itself depended on their success. Dave never got angry; he never got frustrated; he was never critical; and he never said or thought they were too little to learn.

Dave modeled patience.

One day it got so hot, we had to take Dave’s group to a classroom for a popsicle break and some video. I asked Dave to take a break and a camp coach took over and put on an NBA best dunks video.

I went back to the classroom 10 minutes later. I ducked my head in to see that Dave had replaced the dunk video with a video of that 1975 National Championship game. The campers were in awe seeing their very own coach on TV.

Dave was not bragging about his great game. I listened as Dave pointed out each and every mistake he had made in the game while showing the correct way and assuring the campers they could do it if they just listened and learned.

Dave modeled humility and love.

Photo by @darcyferrisphoto/Twenty20

Craig Impelman
As Coach Wooden’s grandson-in-law, Craig Impelman had the opportunity to learn Coach’s teachings firsthand and wrote about those lessons for his site, www.woodenswisdom.com. He is a motivational speaker and the author of Wooden’s Wisdom, a weekly “e-coaching module” that is distributed to companies nationally.