Published By: Jon North

I went to a very small high school growing up, but I had the absolute honor of playing for a KHSAA Hall of Fame coach in John D. Wilson. Coach Wilson believed in doing things the right way. While it was frustrating for some to understand, I was thankful I got his messages and took them to heart at such a young age, because I honestly believe that was what shaped me to be the human being I am today.

If any of Coach Wilson’s former players are reading this, you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say Coach Wilson cared about the small things more than anything else. We worked on fundamentals like a grade school basketball team. We worked on dribbling and layups. He preached about boxing out first and getting the rebound second.

More vividly, he used to say something several times a year that stuck with me.

Coach Wilson would tell us if you see something like trash laying on the ground, You pick it up- even if it’s not yours- and you throw it away. He told us if we went into a bathroom and see a toilet needing flushed… you go flush it. Even if you didn’t make the mess. Now, for a freshman or sophomore this may sound pretty gross and stupid. I’ve known of Coach Wilson yelling at players for not flushing after they used the bathroom. When I say he cared about the little things… he cared about the little things.

I listened to Coach Wilson’s advice of words of wisdom then and I still do today, but not for the same reasons. Then, I listened to Coach Wilson because I wanted to be the model player. I wanted to be the team captain and I wanted to lead by example. Eventually I would be named team captain, but it’s now I realize what Coach Wilson meant by taking care of the small things.

When you are more willing to do those things, the more the big things take care of themselves. Someone who is willing to go out of their way to make the place around them better is someone I want out on the floor to dive on a loose ball. Why do I know they will? Because they do the little things they don’t have to do. That is a winner.

I challenge you, if you’re reading this and you’re a player, lead by example by doing what Coach Wilson told us. Pick it up or flush it, even if it isn’t yours. If you’re an adult and want to see change and feel helpless, go out into your neighborhood or into your community and just spend 10-15 minutes one day picking up trash and making the world around you better.

Lead by example. Don’t tell anyone to do anything unless you would do it yourself. That’s what great leaders do, and that is what Coach Wilson was challenging us to do. Be great leaders.

Go do great things.

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