Family, Friends and the Final Four
Chawn and I were recently in the U.S. for a visit. We started in Florida watching our daughter, Tory, play softball for Nyack College on their spring trip. This was also a chance to spend time with my Dad, who lives in Clearwater. While we were in Florida I was able to see lifelong friends Lynn Nichols and Jim Couchenour. One day a drove down to IMG Academy to see our seven Indian student athletes. They were very appreciative to see someone from their home country. It also allowed me to spend time with Coach Kenny Natt (Director of Basketball at IMG Academy), who was previously in India in my position. Chawn and I attended an Orlando Magic game. After the game we were able to share some quality time with Pat Williams, the founder and former president of the team. What an outstanding man. He not only has been a great leader in professional sports but he is a gifted writer, speaker, and most importantly a man of faith. He was recently inducted into the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame.
From there we divided our time between Ohio and New York. It is always great to see Steve Mayes, a former player of mine and now an officer in the Salvation Army in Harlem. I love him like a son and he is doing great work for the Father. While in NY we stayed at Nyack College and hung out with Tory during her spring break.
It was on to Dallas for the Final Four activities and coaches convention. I was reminded that Dallas was the sight of my first final four when I was an assistant coach at Wheaton College in 1986. Years later I started a tradition of taking my sons with me every year. This was always a special Father/Son outing that brings back many great memories. We stayed with Charlene Aldridge, a dear, long time friend while in Dallas. One of the highlights every year is the Legends of the Harwood Breakfast honoring the late John Wooden. Until his passing, Coach Wooden attended this event and always brought words of wisdom like only he could. This year was of even greater significance to me. My mentor and friend, Del Harris, was being honored with the John Wooden Keys for Life Award. It was a privilege to be a guest of Coach Harris and to support he and his family on this big day. In addition, Nancy Lieberman invited me to join her the next day as she was honored with the Naismith Outstanding Contributor to Women's Basketball Award. This was also the event where they honored the National College Coach of the Year, the High School Coach of the Year, and the four finalists for College Player of the Year.
My son Bryn, and I attended the semi finals on Final Four Saturday. We flew him in from Los Angeles for the weekend. It was almost like old times except my oldest son, Preston, could not make it in. I was really pulling for Florida since I had a personal connection there. Patric Young and Will Yeguete (starters for Florida) had been with me in Africa in the summer of 2012 for an Athletes in Action trip. It was not to be. Chawn and Bryn went to the championship game that saw UCONN take the crown.
It was a great trip for the reasons above and many more. I am now back in India conducting our national team's training camp. We are preparing for the South Asia Championship in Nepal in May. I will give an update on this experience at a later time.