People That Changed My Life: Don Good

I will be continuing "The Best Marriage Advice" in a few days (I'm still accumulating data), but in the intermediate I would like to introduce the first installment of "People That Changed My Life." In these posts I will talk about five people that made lasting impacts on my life. The first individual is Don Good.

Don Good was my 5th and 6th grade basketball coach. We practiced one day a week (a think it was early Saturday mornings) and played six games over the course of about two months. Mr. Good (I still to this day call him "Mr. Good") was not necessarily a coaching guru (I think he would agree), but he knew enough about the game to teach us the fundamentals (we certainly weren't running the triangle offense). When I originally came up with the idea of writing about these individuals I must admit, I was somewhat surprised that Mr. Good continually came to mind. We've somewhat kept in touch, but I probably see him once every five years.

The more I thought about it the more I settled on this one specific, seemingly minor, conversation we had. Mr. Good always kept a yellow legal pad with him on the bench during games. Being the ever-so-curious fifth grader that I was, I remember asking Mr. Good what was written on the pad.

"Well, I wrote down your name and each one of your teammate's names. Next to each name I write the quarters in which they will play. So for example, Keith you will play in the first and third quarter of tonight's game."

"But what if it's a close game?" I asked. "What if some of the errr... not so good players end up playing the last few minutes of the game?"

Mr. Good went on to explain that this was precisely why he had to determine before the game who would play and when. If he didn't his competitive nature would kick in and he would try to win no matter what. His goal was not to win but to give each player equal playing time. Basically, he couldn't trust himself to do the right thing (this was, after all, basketball for 10 year-olds).

I remember this conversation like it was yesterday. For those that have seen me coach, they might be shocked to learn that a story about winning NOT being everything has made such an impact on my life. I suppose it's because this story transcends sport. Today at work, I received a rather snarky email. A coworker "lit me up" for not sending something to them yesterday. But I did send it to them. Twice. Really this person deserves to be "scolded," but I realized today that being "right" or "winning" really isn't all that important in the whole scheme of things.

Mr. Good emphasized relationship, encouragement and development over winning; and knew that his own human tendency, like mine, is not necessarily to do what is best for others. he had to put systems in place to keep things in perspective.

I'll never forget that. At least, I hope I never do. I'm not great at emulating Mr. Good. Maybe I should always carry a legal pad.

Stay tuned for the "Best Marriage Advice (Part 2) and the other people that changed my life.


  1. Keith's blog,
    It's interesting what people, especially kids, remember.
    There's not a Sunday School teacher, teacher, coach or parent who doesn't wonder, "Just what do they remember?"
    Thanks for remembering me. I cherish those years of coaching at Westlake. Several years I assisted your Dad. You boys were great! Hey, I thought my coaching ability matched the teams' athleticism. I'm glad Mrs. Tanner kept asking me to coach. It would have been easy not to have coached 5th/6th when my own sons had moved on to Jr and Sr. High. I used to bring a 7th grader named Brent (Mr. Excitement) Weisenberg to Saturday practices to make sure there was someone big enough to guard you. I remember Aaron Bynum playing for his first game, coming to our bench during a time out saying, "That was fun!" I remember trying to hold back tears when I commended each one of you at our celebration luncheon.

    I'm grateful to God that He inspired me to choreograph games as much as possible. It was extremely helpful esp. in Little League so the players would never have to ask me when and where I was going to play them. It ensured everyone played different positions and unlimited batting orders.

    Keith, the last game of your 6th grade season was at home. I penciled you in to start the 3rd period at point guard because I thought you would enjoy the thrill of dribbling upcourt rather than your usual position in the post. (I'm sure it freaked out the opposing guard!) I had no idea your Dad would feel strong enough physically to attend. I'm sure glad for that legal pad.

    God's richest blessings through our Lord Jesus Christ. I'm pleased you got skills during your first year of marriage. Good success in your studies and upcoming basketball season.

    Love, Mr. Good


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