Four years ago a coach that I competed against in the 1980’s and really respected died on March 28, 2010. Unless you are from North Carolina you may have never heard of him but his name was Jack Jensen. He coached for 45 years at Guilford College in Greensboro-did you catch that I mentioned he coached for 45 years all at Guilford College. He died at age of 71 coming back from a college athletic event.
On March 28, 2014 I am at a fundraiser for United Way in Lumberton, NC and am sitting next to a couple who I had an acquaintance with the husband but have never met the wife. They came late to the event and she inquired about who I was and where I worked. I gave her a very brief overview and she mentioned that I had coached college basketball to her husband. He asked me if I knew Jack Jensen and I answered yes.
The man’s name was Fred and he told me the impact Jack Jensen had on his son. The best part of Fred’s story for me to illustrate how Jack cared about people was his son was not a player on one of Jack’s teams. His son was a student at Guilford and was a friend of some of Jack’s golfers so he became their son’s academic advisor.
Jack Jensen coached basketball for 29 years at Guilford and won the NAIA National Championship in 1973 with M.L Carr and Lloyd Free (who later became known as World B Free) on his team. Jack also coached golf and won 3 National Championships in that sport 1989(NAIA) 2002 (NCAA Div III) and 2005 (NCAA Div III). All of those championship accolades put aside it was a student who was impacted by Jack Jensen that reminded me why he was great. Jack Jensen gave everyone on his team his best regardless of their potential to help him.
It was no coincidence that this story came to me on the 4th anniversary of his death-it was Jack’s way of reminding me and all leaders how we should treat everyone not just people that can help you.