PRSM members welcomed Dick Vitale to center court during the PRSM Mid-Year Conference with thunderous applause and he did not disappoint. The legendary NCAA basketball coach and award-winning ESPN sportscaster did not waste a minute getting to the point.
“You can do anything you want to do! You can overcome anything if you believe you can and, surround yourself with people who want to win!” Vitale stated emphatically. He illustrated his inspiring message through dozens of personal examples.
“When I was growing up, I watched my mom and dad. They were my examples,” he continued. “My dad worked pressing coats. He got paid based upon how many coats he could press in a day. He and my mom never missed a day at work. They were always there doing what they had to do to provide for the family. However, we were always told we could do anything we wanted to do if we just worked hard enough.”
That extreme work ethic carried over into Dick’s coaching career, where he started coaching in an elementary school, but quickly worked his way up to high school where he coached his team to 35 victories and two consecutive state championships. This led to him being hired by Rutgers University and ultimately an NCAA Championship in 1977.
“I’m living the American dream!” Vitale told the audience. “I learned from my mom and dad, who didn’t have a formal education, but had doctorates in love. They told me if you give 110 percent all the time a lot of beautiful things will happen.”
Vitale told the story of his once driver, who never believed he would excel in life. “I told him – believe in yourself and give it 110 percent and you’ll see some amazing things happen.” Several years later, that driver became the CEO of ESPN and was the person who negotiated Vitale’s contract to become an announcer on that network. “Never give up – never stop believing! That is the key!” he reminded listeners.
When he was coaching the University of Detroit and preparing his team to play Michigan, he told them, “When you walk out of this locker room I want you to shake my hand and tell me – tonight we are going to shock the nation!” That night, they won!
Vitale closed by reminding everyone that winning is important, but it is not everything in life. Vitale serves on the V-Foundation, dedicated to fighting children’s cancer. “Cancer is a terrible disease,” Vitale said. “These kids are tough. They’re tougher than I am, but they need our help. Please help if you can.”
Attendees left the room inspired by a sports legend to not only excel at work, but also at home, and in the way they help those who are not as fortunate. As only Vitale could say it – “If you want to win - put it all on the line baby!”
Published: December 17, 2018