favorite is a 140-word fable from Kansas coach Larry Brown entitled The Bear
and the Two Travelers, which teaches a lesson in trust. Manning says this is
Brown's way of saying "that he'd stick by me through thick and thin."
Which is one reason, Manning says, he signed with Kansas. Another reason: A
year ago, Brown hired Danny's father, Ed Manning, as an assistant coach, and
the Manning family moved from Greensboro to Lawrence, Kans.
received Brown's Bear and Two Travelers letter, but it soon got buried in the
avalanche of mail from N.C. State. Rare was the week when Washburn didn't
receive an ego-massaging card or letter from Valvano or Abatemarco, a onetime
third-grade teacher in West Hempstead, N.Y. who honed his recruiting skills at
Iona under Valvano, then moved to Davidson, St. John's, Maryland and Virginia
Tech before rejoining Valvano at N.C. State.
strategy is: Bombard prospects and their parents with personal, handwritten
letters that prove he really cares. The assault on Washburn began at the start
of the player's sophomore year, when Abatemarco was working for Virginia Tech
Oct. 26, 1981 (to
Washburn): "You are an outstanding young man."
Oct. 26 (to Mrs.
Washburn): "[Chris] is a great kid."
"Coach Moir...is a great person and coach."
Dec. 14: "You
are the man who will come in and bring us to a National Championship."
letters from Abatemarco throughout his sophomore year, but in March 1982 he
noticed that the coach's allegiance had shifted. No longer was Abatemarco
writing that Moir was a "great person and coach." No longer was
Washburn going to lead Virginia Tech to a national championship. Now, it was
Valvano who was the "great person and coach," and N.C. State was
destined to win the title.
(Abatemarco to Washburn): "I've changed jobs and gone with a very close
friend of mine, Jim Valvano at North Carolina State.... I have to convince you
to come to State."
"[ Valvano] can be your coach, friend, and big brother. Come and play for a
great person and coach."