I started the Coach4aday blog in 2014 and have done daily posts on one topic for each year. In 2014 my daily posts were on the “Beer of the Day”, 2015 it was “A Friend of a Friend”, 2016 I wrote about “North Carolina”, and in 2017 it was “Colleges and Universities”.
The one consistent piece of feedback I have received with this blog is the 2015 series on “A Friend of a Friend”. Readers and blog followers said please bring it back. The stats also back that up with the number of views each of those posts received.
So in 2018 two things will happen with the Coach4aday blog; One I plan to collaborate with a friend named John Rancke and revisit some of those 2015 “A Friend of a Friend” posts and do some new ones with a slightly different twist. I will be writing the posts on odd numbered days of the month and John will take the even numbered days.
In addition John and I will write about things we both are interested which will include basketball, food, people, music, our granddaughters, and great stories.
If you want to follow the blog via email go to the bottom right of the post and click the follow button.
My twitter handle is @coach4aday2 if you want to follow the blog that way.
John’s twitter handle is @JohnRancke if you want to reach out to him.
Jack Jensen and M.L Carr-lesson a life well lived can teach us.
This post was originally published on January 30, 2015 but has been edited.
I think the older you get you have periods in your life where you experienced a rash of people who have died suddenly or shortly after getting a serious medical diagnosis. These losses I believe cause people including myself to ponder does the stuff we own, or the games we win, or the accolades we have received really count?
The answer I came up was no. What matters is the way we make people feel or how they make us feel. That is what people will remember.
I had a coaching friend that passed away 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 and won four national championships in two different sports-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. He died while still actively coaching. 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 Jensen back row far left with his 1972-73 NAIA National Championship Basketball Team at Guilford College.
Jack also coached golf and won 3 National Championships in that sport 1989(NAIA), 2002 (NCAA Div. III), and 2005 (NCAA Div III).
Jack far left with his 2002 NCAA Division III Golf Champions from Guilford.
On March 28, 2014 on the actual anniversary of his passing I am at a fundraiser for United Way in Lumberton, NC called Dancing with the Stars and am sitting next to a couple who I had a casual acquaintance with. In fact I only knew the husband. I had never met his wife. They came late to the event and the wife 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 Fred. He asked me if I knew Jack Jensen and I answered yes.
Fred told me the impact Jack Jensen had on his son. 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. The best part of Fred’s story is it illustrates how Jack cared for all people not just ones that could help him win a golf match or basketball game. Fred’s son was not a player on any of Jack’s teams. He was just someone that Jack made feel special because he was a student at Guilford.
Jack Jensen gave everyone on his team his best regardless of their potential to help him.
As I reflected on Jack back in 2014 and today I realize he was the ultimate coach because he made people feel special and better than that he passed that gift on to many he came in contact with including one of his most notable former players M.L. Carr.
Jack Jensen’s pride in the accomplishments of M.L Carr
When you are a college coach and get a chance to coach a player who goes on to achieve success on the professional level in the NBA that is pretty heady stuff. Jack Jensen was always proud of the career M.L Carr had.
ML #30 during his Guilford College days.
M.L Carr played 10 seasons of professional basketball and his last 6 years were with the Boston Celtics (1979-1985). With the Celtics he was a member of the 1981 and 1984 NBA Championship teams. Jack was also proud he graduated from Guilford with a degree in History.
M.L Carr accomplished a lot but I can only imagine how much pride Jack Jensen would have had if he could have been around to see what M.L Carr did for his hometown mentor in June of 2013. M.L Carr grew up in Wallace, NC and pulled a great surprise on 73 year old Davis Lee. The link at end of the post describes what occurred.
Davis Lee took a special interest in Carr at a time of racial injustice. He bought him his first pair of Converse tennis shoes and guided him on a course that led to basketball success at Wallace-Rose Hill High, Guilford College and the NBA. As Carr reached high school age, Lee encouraged him to enroll at Wallace-Rose Hill and help integrate the school. “No, I’m not going,” Carr said but later yielded to Lee’s persuasion.
One of 27 African American students at W-RH then, Carr was engaging, possessed leadership skills and helped break down racial barriers. In basketball, he was the lone black athlete in area gyms, not exactly a cozy feeling. “All you need to do is score 25 or 30 points and win the game; Keep your cool no matter what happens. If anything happens let me handle it,” Carr remembers Lee telling him. Carr kept his cool.
He didn’t dazzle on the court at first, however. So Lee gave him time off from his summer job at Rose Hill Poultry Plant and paid his way to Campbell College’s Basketball Camp. He sharpened his skills there and met coach John Wooden and Pete Maravich, basketball icons who served as camp instructors. The star in Carr began to shine after that. He averaged 21 points his junior season, almost triple his sophomore production.
Those skills led him to Guilford where he played for both Jerry Steele and Jack Jensen. There is a great article written in the Raleigh News and Observer about the relationship between M.L Carr and Davis Lee written by A.J Carr (no relation) in the link below. There is also a quote at the end of the story that would have made Jack Jensen proud
“one kind, nurturing, and benevolent man can make a difference”
Jack Jensen and M.L Carr are both testimonies to that. It is not the stuff, it is not the wins, or the accolades we receive. It is how you make people feel that gets you remembered.