Jennifer Goodman Linn You Fearless

Coach K – A Stand-Up Guy

I have a really wonderful amazing story about my hero, and now friend, Coach K.  Anyone who knows me knows I bleed Duke blue.  I am a very passionate and involved alumni of Duke University and I am quite outspoken about my love of the university and of the basketball team.   And if you've been a loyal reader of my blog you know that the week before I had my surgery, Dave and I flew out to Indianapolis to see Duke win the 2010 NCAA Championship.  It was awesome! Perhaps embarrassing for Dave to see me screaming all of the cheers at the top of my lungs but very exciting for me. 

So many of my favorite college memories revolve around watching the basketball games and celebrating the team's wins and losses (mostly wins when I was there).  Just like many people remember exactly where they were when JFK was assassinated or when the planes flew into the World Trade Center on September 11th, I remember exactly where I was when Christian Laettner scored the game-winning last-second jump shot on March 28, 1992 to claim a 104-103 victory over Kentucky in the East regional final of the 1992 NCAA Tournament. 

It's impossible to love Duke basketball without admiring and respecting the "wizard" behind Duke's successes, Coach K.  Coach K has been the coach of Duke's basketball team since 1980.  He has won 4 NCAA championships, has coached the medal-winning US Olympics team and is considered by most to be one of the all-time best college basketball coaches. His accolades and achievements are too numerous to mention.  He is also supposed to be a great guy spending numerous hours coaching and mentoring his players, students and business people, as well as donating his time and money to various charitable organizations.  I have heard from many who know him that he is a great guy but now I can say with pride that I KNOW he is a great guy.

My father-in-law reached out to him when I went in for my 5th surgery asking if Coach K might be able to send a signed hat or t-shirt to cheer up his “Cameron Crazie” Duke daughter-in-law.  Please remember that my surgery took place less than 2 weeks after Duke had won the NCAA championship…the guy is probably a bit busy!

Regardless, Coach K’s assistant responded immediately asking my father-in-law for my contact information.  While I was in the hospital, Dave brought me a hand-written letter sent by Coach K wishing me luck and strength. I couldn’t believe it! It was so thoughtful and must have been written the day he received my father-in-law’s call.  I hung the letter proudly on my hospital wall and it gave me strength as I battled the 8 painful days in the hospital.

I returned home from the hospital to notice that there were a few missed calls on my iphone from the 919 area code.  Turns out Coach K had tried to call me numerous times and reached out to my father-in-law to make sure everything was OK.  Last Saturday afternoon I was alone at home and picked up the phone to find Coach K on the other end of the line checking in on me!  We spent 15 minutes on the phone and he was delightful.  I was sweating like a teenager I was so excited. He was inquisitive about my surgery, passionate about my cause and inspired by my attitude.  It was a lovely conversation.

In Hebrew there a word “Dayenu” which means approximately, “it would have been enough.”  I couldn’t help recalling that expression when I received a big package from the Duke Athletics department a few days after our conversation.  Inside the package was another hand-written note from Coach K and a few t-shirts and hats to thank me for being such a big supporter of the Duke Team.

Coach K is busy man who must have a “to do” list 10 feet long. However, he made time to reach out to me and provide words of hope and inspiration.  I so admire that he chooses to spend a portion of his time connecting with people and sending his positive message to them. 

Thank you Coach K…you are a true role model.

And if you didn’t think I was a big enough Duke fan already…now, just wait and see!