clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Happy Birthday, Coach Wooden!

Today, John Wooden would have celebrated his 109th birthday.

Happy Birthday Coach Wooden
Happy Birthday Coach Wooden
Christian Petersen

Sports have a unifying force. We cheer, scream, cry, throw things at the TV, and bond whether our team is winning or losing. We have seen the ups and downs of sports at UCLA, and we still stick by the blue and gold, no matter how tough it might get.


The bottom center brick of the pyramid of success is loyalty. Coach said, “Be true to yourself. Be true to those you lead”. While people show it in different ways, we stay loyal to the UCLA Bruins through thick and thin. Some say they’ll show up to games no matter what the state of the team is. Others say they won’t buy a ticket so the administration will see their dissatisfaction. However you choose to show it, your continued loyalty is what makes you a Bruin.

Family was something very important to Coach. His most important tenants in life were those he learned from his father, and he called them his two sets of threes:

1. Never lie.

2. Never cheat.

3. Never steal.

1. Don’t whine.

2. Don’t complain.

3. Don’t make excuses.

He lived simply and taught his players the same family values his father taught him. Whether you were a big recruit or a walk-on, you were just as important to Coach as the next guy. He didn’t care about the color of your skin or your background. He cared about things like ethics, hard work, and honesty.

Think back to some of the greatest UCLA sports moments in recent history and they will surely evoke some sort of emotion in you. Take, for instance, this one, thanks to the NCAA:

Or, going back in time a little further, this one from T3Sports:

Whether these moments make you smile, cry, or evoke something in between, it is your loyalty to UCLA that tugs at your heart strings.

Of course, there is one great Wooden moment in recent time that we absolutely cannot forget. At the time, some of us didn’t know it was a Wooden moment, but it turned out to be absolutely magical. Thank you, billuclausc:

The magic happened at about the 1:10 mark. The bench goes nuts and it turns out that Coach Wooden’s great-grandson scored the last basket at Pauley Pavilion in game action before the big remodel. You just can’t make this stuff up.

Coach never boasted or used his fame to further his own agenda. He coached until he could coach no more and wrote letters to his wife Nell even after her passing in 1985. He continued to attend UCLA basketball games and his legacy lives on through his teachings and all of his memorable quotes. “Make each day your masterpiece”. “Nothing will work unless you do”.

Today, let’s remember the legacy of Coach and everything he taught us.

Happy 109th, Coach Wooden!

Go Bruins!