High School and College Graduations

One of the signs that summer is nearby and closing in, is the many thousands of graduation ceremonies that take place at campuses and high schools all around the country. The other night, I watched my local high school’s graduation ceremony since I knew several of the graduating seniors.  It was a special evening and I am sure many of the students and parents have been dreaming of  that day for years. It sure is amazing at how fast they grow up. Last year, I attended my niece’s high school graduation and it seemed like just yesterday when  she was a little grade school student.

Whenever people attend a ceremony, it seems like the mood is similar to reading a book and finding yourself on the last chapter. But the word commencement, which is another term used for graduation, means the beginning.  When I watch those many students receive their diplomas, I can’t help think that this is just another chapter that is closing in their lives and a brand new and exciting one is coming up when they walk out of the door. For many high school seniors, college is on the horizon and that is a whole new adventure in itself.  Many will be living on their own for the first time and be in a completely different setting from what they are used.  For college seniors, it is time to get that resume polished and hit the job market unless you plan on attending graduate school. Going on job interviews and finally landing that first job is a great life experience as well. And for many, it is another big change in their lives. And a whole new set of responsibilities.

A graduation ceremony would not be complete without a speaker and I mind those speeches to be the most entertaining part of process. Do you ever wonder what you would say to those many folks wearing the cap and gowns if you had to give a speech? Suppose you got hand-pick from the audience to deliver a few words. What words of advice would you say?

For me, it involves a few things. First of all, do not be afraid to fail at pursuing your goals. Whether you are a high school or college graduate, there will always be roadblocks set up on your path to a achieving a goal. Maybe people will tell you that you cannot do or achieve something. Prove them wrong! Or maybe you are having troubling landing a good job. I always believe that when you get out of school and into the job market, you should keep a very open mind. I did with my current job. Sometimes that can lead you onto a whole different path that you never thought was possible.  Just because you have studied something in college means that you will be working in that field.

I also believe that just because you have graduated does not mean that you are through with school. There are so many opportunities for further education, whether it is in the classroom or online. Never stop learning ! For all those thousands of high school, secondary and college graduates, congratulations and good luck with the future!

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My favorite coach of all time, John Wooden

It was a sad night in the sports world last night when it was announced that John Wooden had passed away at the age of 99. To this day, Wooden is my favorite all time coach in any sport just ahead of another favorite of mine, Tony Dungy. But being a hoops player and fan, I have to give a slight edge to the wizard.

As a young child, I still remember watching Wooden’s teams destroy opponent after opponent. Even though I lived in Minnesota, I was a huge UCLA fan and rooted for them in every game. I still remember hearing the news that their championship streak was over after they got beat by North Carolina St. in 1974 and feeling sad and empty. Or the pain that I felt when their 88 game winning streak came to a sudden end in Notre Dame during the same year. His streak of championship seasons will never be broken again in NCCA basketball. I can almost guarantee it!

Why was Wooden so successful? At first glance he appears to be some non-assuming guy who looked more like a pastor of a church as opposed to being a basketball coach. But his method of teaching the game set him apart from other coaches. He was very strict on fundamentals and organization. When you played for Wooden, you knew how to do the simple things that many players, even the better ones today cannot do. Basketball is really about mastering the fundamentals of the game.  Successful players and teams have a sound grasp on how to play the game and that is what Wooden taught endlessly.  The game is more than just seeing who can come up with the most spectacular dunk.

Another thing that Wooden was about was building character in his players. He understood that basketball was just a small portion of their lives and stressed the importance of being good people, students and citizens.  I willing to bet that there are tons of testimonies of former players about the impact that he had in their lives. He was like a father figure to many players. Installing good character in players is important too in winning. You never saw any of his players show boating or acting like jerks.

I often wonder what Wooden thought of today’s players and the game today.  I bet it made him angry to see a game today and see the players trash talk, have feuds with teammates and coaches or act selfishly.  Or seeing several players who cannot even manage to execute simple fundamentals of the game.

If anyone out there really wants to become a better basketball player or coach, they should find all the books they can about John Wooden. He is the best of all time and will be missed by this country’s basketball community.

The silly blame game of the BP oil spill

It was bound to happen! With one of the this country’s worst environmental disasters of all time picking up steam, the accusations of who is to blame is flowing about as fast as the oil that is gushing out of the hole.

In a crisis like this, it is easy to point the finger at someone else and accuse them of , and I will point this mildly, screwing up.  I fully understand that BP is at fault here and should shoulder a large portion of the blame. But why is the White House constantly on the attack against BP? Did they not grant them a permit to drill? And of course many progressive liberals are blaming the free market for this mess and reminding people that this is another example of how the free market does not work.  After all, BP is a private firm and yes, they screwed up big time so it is time for the government to take over and regulate everything.

I find it almost appalling to see how the President has reacted to this crisis. His leadership and sense of urgency for this matter is down right troubling.  He seems to be taking a very casual approach to this situation unlike the politicians in the affected areas who are scrambling  on the front lines everyday.  From day one, he should have taken more of a leadership role in organizing ways to stop this mess instead of constantly saying that he is downright angry. Well being angry or saying that you are angry will not fix the problem. This is a major point in Obama’s presidency and how he handles this from now on will have a major impact on his legacy. It is now something like day 43 now and with the oil threatening to wash ashore on some of the beaches and spread even further, it is crunch time for the prez.

Being dependent on foreign oil is not something this country needs to have. Producing our own oil and energy is a major issue for our candidates. How do we become less dependent on other countries? I think this is where people with good entrepreneurial ideas can help out.  And these people more times than not, work for private firms.  Yes, the free market! Does anyone out there really have any confidence that the federal government can step in and solve our energy and oil supply problems? Heck they cannot even shut a hole or find a way to! This is just another example of inefficient government.