Why I Love March Madness

Written By: Dr. Steve Whitaker, Head of School


This is one of my favorite times of the year. I love making a bracket and comparing it with others, and the overall excitement is unrivaled in all of sports. However, it’s not just the games that I enjoy. I love the stories and life lessons that emerge on the Road to the Final Four.

Today I want to tell you a story about one of the greatest college basketball teams of all time and share three lessons you can teach your children.

He is the greatest college coach to roam the NCAA basketball sidelines. He won 10 National Championships in 12 years, he was a 6 time coach of the year award winner, he had an 88 game winning streak, was a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Honor, and a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. His name is John Wooden.

If you asked Coach Wooden to tell you about his favorite college basketball team, he would probably point to his 1964 UCLA Bruins. They were unranked, undersized, and considered the underdog in almost every game they played.

They were unranked in the preseason polls. A prolific sports columnist called Coach Wooden’s 1964 team one of the weakest in America that year. He said they were so soft they couldn’t smash a mango! Coach Wooden saw things differently. As he worked with his boys, he told them if they did the little things well, they would have big success.

They were undersized. They are the smallest team to ever win a NCAA National Championship – their center was only 6’5. This didn’t bother the legendary coach. Game after game he reminded them that basketball was a game of character. He faithfully told them, “I don’t care how tall you are, I care how tall you play.”

They were underdogs. As the season wore on, the team began to believe in themselves even though others continued to doubt. When they reached the championship game in Kansas City they owned a perfect record. Amazingly, the odds-makers in Las Vegas predicted that their opponent would win the big game. As moments passed and they waited for tip off, Coach Wooden encouraged them by saying, “If we play as a team, we will win as a team – remember, it takes ten hands to make a basket.”

When the final buzzer sounded, the UCLA Bruins beat the Duke Blue Devils 98-83 to win their first National Championship.

Share this remarkable story with your children and talk about these three simple lessons. First, doing the little things well really does matter. Second, character counts – it trumps talent every time. Third, when we dedicate ourselves to working as a team good things happen. Enjoy March Madness and Go Cards!


Steve D. Whitaker, Ph. D
Head of School