"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."
I was the oddest of all grade school students. I was a UCLA basketball fan living in Kentucky.
I remained a UCLA fan until John Wooden retired in 1975. I then returned to my Kentucky Wildcats roots.
I wasn't that I was a fan of the school UCLA. I can't even tell you who coaches them now.
I was a fan of Coach John Wooden.
Wooden, who started his career coaching high school in Dayton, Kentucky, took his Midwestern values with him to the west coast and created a unique basketball dynasty.
His teams won and they won with class. His players seemed intelligent and you never heard about them starting a knife fight or tearing up a bar.
Although the teams were dominating, I can't remember one of Coach Wooden's player's trash talking or showing up an opponent.
Wooden's job was to prepare young men to be responsible adults.
Everything about John Wooden made him a role model.
He was a humble, soft-spoken man who said what he meant and meant what he said. He was the model of discipline and simplicity, on and off the court. He was a devoted husband and father.
His players came from all over the country. What responsible parent wouldn't want their son to play for John Wooden?
A man who reminds of the values and character of John Wooden is Carl Kremer. He doesn't coach at a big-time college program; he just racked up his 400th win at Moeller High School, just outside Cincinnati.
I've had the chance to watch Carl from the beginning. I was his campaign manager when he was twice named student body president at Eastern Kentucky University and we have remained close friends ever since.
Carl he took over a basketball program at a school better known for its nationally known football and baseball programs. Moeller has produced scores of professional athletes, including recently named Hall of Fame baseball player Barry Larkin and future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey, Jr. Speaker of the House John Boehner played football there.
The school never had an Ohio state championship before Carl took over. They've won three since then, along with a score of regional and district titles in one of the toughest high school sports conferences in the United States.
Like Wooden, Carl's Moeller teams win with defense, discipline and hard work. Like Wooden, Carl is modest and humble about his unique talents and abilities.
In the early 1980's, Moeller's football coach, Gerry Faust, jumped from coaching high school football to be the head coach at Notre Dame University, one of the top programs in the country.
Carl's never jumped to big-time college basketball but had numerous opportunities.
Right after he became head coach at Moeller, I was with him when one of the hottest college coaches offered him a job as an assistant. An obvious stepping stone to Carl running his own college program a few years later.
We talked it over but Carl decided that the college lifestyle wouldn't work for his family. He had married his college sweetheart Johanna and they were expecting their first child.
He said, "I can't imagine life being any better than it is right now."
A couple of days later, he called me sobbing. The son they were expecting had a unusual heart condition and it was unlikely he would live through childbirth.
They did the delivery at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia and open heart surgery immediately on the newborn. Several operations followed. I visited Carl and Johanna as they slept on the floor next to their son's bed, for weeks on end, fighting for his life.
19 years later, his son Joe is doing fine, as is his sister Jackie, who came along fifteen months after Joe.
A blue collar family in Troy, Ohio, Carl's parents produced six of the most balanced and positive children I ever seen. All of Carl's siblings are successful but even more importantly, all of them seem happy.
In a world where happiness can be hard to come by, the Kremer family are pretty good role models.
Carl has received tons of recognition at the high school level, including being a coach in the McDonald's All-American game. Most of his starters go on to play in college and I don't hear stories about them stealing cars or robbing liquor stores.
Like Wooden, Kremer projects Midwestern values of focusing on the team instead of the individual.
I get irritated with him when he beats a cupcake team by fifty points, but praises the opponent's "hustle" or "fighting spirit."
I've tried to get him to get with the modern world and trash talk, but like John Wooden, Carl is not going to let that happen.
I never got the opportunity to meet John Wooden but suspect he did a lot of good things that never made it into the newspapers. Carl is like that too.
He organized and found an incredible priest for my father's funeral mass. He drove through a tornado to get to my mother's funeral. He let my nephew, the son of a blue collar single mom, go to Moeller's high-powered basketball camp for free every year.
You want your child to have Carl's values and you would definitely want Carl to be your child's coach.
He is just a good guy. Who wins championships.
Just like John Wooden used to do.
Don McNay, CLU, ChFC, MSFS, CSSC is the bestselling author of the book, Wealth Without Wall Street; McNay, who lives in Richmond, Ky., is an award-winning financial columnist and Huffington Post contributor. You can learn more about him at www.donmcnay.com.
He is the Chairman of the Board for the McNay Settlement Group (www.mcnay.com) which provides structured settlement consulting for injury victims, lottery winners, and the families of special needs children.
McNay founded Kentucky Guardianship Administrators LLC, which assists attorneys in as conservators and setting up guardianships. It is nationally recognized as an administrator of Qualified Settlement (468b) funds.
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