SI Vault
Ray Lovett
December 27, 1982
When Zimmer called with the invitation, I sensed that it was a moment that would change my life.
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December 27, 1982

Here's A Switcheroo—a Coach Who Concludes Winning Isn't Anything

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I sent out warm letters to my new team, stating the unalterable time of practice in the school gym. The day before we were to meet, the roof sprung a leak, necessitating a change of practice time—11 phone calls. The next week, it rained again. Eleven more calls. On the third week the leak was fixed. It snowed. Eleven more calls to inform the doubtful that we would practice despite the snow. My calling skills were sharp now. I had mastered the right combination of friendly tone and brevity. But I also received calls. One father asked why we didn't practice more; a mother asked why we practiced so often. Another mother, in a rage over having gone to the wrong gym and waiting for an hour, demanded to know why I changed the place of practice. "The roof," I said defensively. "The leaky roof."

En route to the first practice, the boys excluded me by sitting in the rear of the station wagon talking excitedly, fooling around and laughing.

"I'll ask him. Hey, are we gonna get trophies?"

"Trophies. We haven't even had our first practice and you want a trophy. One has to work for a trophy."

"Aw, c'mon, get us trophies."

"Yeah, trophies are good."

"What color are our uniforms?"

"I want red."

"Not red. Blue."

"Orange. Get orange."

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