April 19, 2013


The Smart Take from the Strong: The Basketball Philosophy of Pete Carril (John Willson, 4/19/13, Imaginative Conservative)

Dr. Pete Carril is a bit of a snob.  I emphasize the "Dr." because last year Princeton, the school at which he coached  basketball for twenty-nine years, awarded him the honorary degree, Doctor of Humanities.  I emphasize the "snob" because one of his cardinal rules is, "The ability to rebound is in inverse proportion to the distance your house is from the nearest railroad tracks."  He doesn't believe that "three car garage guys" are tough enough to get rebounds or loose balls.  Having grown up in a no car garage family in South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Pete has never quite gotten over the neighborhood saloon snobbery of the steel mill where his father worked for almost four decades.  But despite himself, Pete earned that doctorate, and is today a retired Princeton professor in the best sense.

I read his book (published in 1997, written with Dan White) at the suggestion of a good friend and former student, Kevin Shinkle of Philadelphia, who saw things in it that reminded him of good teachers and good coaches.  I am struck by Pete Carril's dedication to the calling of teaching  even more than by his obvious ability to coach young men in what is my third or fourth favorite sport.  He won 525 games in his career (not counting high school)-no other Ivy league coach comes close-and has the universal respect of the top men in his profession (Bob Knight wrote the introduction to the book), but it is as a teacher that he should be remembered.

...of which it can be said that being good at it is exclusively a function of wanting to be.

Posted by at April 19, 2013 1:18 PM

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