SI Vault
 
Dear Chris:
Bill Brubaker
November 26, 1984
When you're Chris Washburg—6'11" with a can't-miss jumper—you can expect to have hundred of pen pals, and sacks, cartons and drawers full of mail
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
November 26, 1984

Dear Chris:

When you're Chris Washburg—6'11" with a can't-miss jumper—you can expect to have hundred of pen pals, and sacks, cartons and drawers full of mail

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Manning's 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.

Washburn also 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.

Abatemarco's 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 coach Moir:

Oct. 26, 1981 (to Washburn): "You are an outstanding young man."

Oct. 26 (to Mrs. Washburn): "[Chris] is a great kid."

Oct. 28: "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."

Washburn received 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.

March 24 (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."

May 25: "[ Valvano] can be your coach, friend, and big brother. Come and play for a great person and coach."

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11