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Commentary: Introducing 'Dear Coach' and your anti-Monday-morning-quarterback

Commentary: Introducing 'Dear Coach' and your anti-Monday-morning-quarterback
(Carroll County Times)

Hello. Mondays are now home to a ping-ponged pair of new columns, alternating by week. Allow me to introduce the concept of each.

The first will be a readers' email-driven column; styled after, akin to, and intending to evoke reader input in the spirit of Dear Abby meets Dean Smith; where the wisdom of John Wooden and Coach K(rzyzewski) meet the (Bill Simmons') Sports Guy mailbag; advice for, and on dealing with, life, penned and derived from the coaching philosophies of great leaders and motivators of men (and women).

The second - offered from the perspective of someone with, well, with a perspective shaped by relatively unique sports-related experiences - will offer commentary that will eschew spin in favor of the veracity for honesty, and (hopefully) be thought-provoking.

The first - a portmanteau of the philosophies of great coaches - will appear on these pages in the voice of "Dean Krzyzewski-Wooden," or "Coach" for short.

The second - a canto for sport-centered candor. (In some ways, the anti-Monday morning quarterback.)

"You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take." - Wayne Gretzky.

With both columns I will take a shot, first-and-foremost, at writing something worth reading; at answering reader questions; at stirring thoughts (without resorting to attempts at eliciting negative over-reactionism, or at poking the proverbial bear); and, at giving you something to look forward to (reading) on a Monday morning.

For the first - if you are, for example, (i) the parent who (improperly or inappropriately) berates his (or her) kid's coach or referees (regardless of whether, or how much, the referee deserves it); or you're (ii) the fair-weather or band-wagon fan who is either too quick to, or feels compelled to unfairly, trash his team; or maybe you're (iii) the well-intended parent who is relatively clueless to the rules or skills of the sports your kid plays, but who wants to be more involved; or, you're (iv) the casual fan with questions about the seeming lack of rationality displayed by the athletes, owners, and/or decision-makers in big-time college or professional sports; or, you're (v) an athlete or a player who has a burning question or (socially relevant) comment - note that said athlete will need to submit a question via the email address below, and that poorly written (see improper verb tense or homonym usage) Tweets will not be accepted - or, really (vi) any reader who thinks an answer to an issue they're facing could be found in, and best relayed by, an analogy based in sport or from a lesson learned from or on the fields (or courts, or courses) upon which they (sports) are played - please send your questions, comments and opinions to Coach's mailbag at coach@with-character.com.

With the second column, I am endeavoring to write a newspaper column, as opposed or compared to a blog, Twitter feed or other quasi-journalistic social-media-aided effort; all of which can apparently, and unfortunately seem to be done facelessly and namelessly, without consequences for, or accountability on the part of, the bulk of their bloggers, posters, Tweeters, or users (catchy blogosphere nom de plumes and Twitter handles and the notoriety gained therefrom notwithstanding); because, somehow, having to submit a headshot as a prerequisite to the opportunity to do this, and knowing that what I write will appear (literally) in print in a newspaper in a town in which I live, ensure that I will hold myself accountable to (and will be held accountable for) the consequences of anything I may write; and, the responsibility born of that accountability is important to me.

Last week, Grantland ran a piece on Naismith Hall of Fame basketball coach (and North Carolina Tar Heel basketball alum) Larry Brown; written by the biographer Neal Gabler (currently the Patrick Henry Writing Fellow in residence at Washington College in Chestertown).

In the piece, Gabler attempted to describe why, in his seventies, already in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and the only coach in the history of the game to have won both an NCAA national championship and an NBA championship, Brown after spending time in what he (Brown) describes as basketball "exile" is coaching again - not in the NBA, or at a traditional collegiate basketball powerhouse, but - at his most recent "reclamation project", Conference USA perennial cellar-dweller, Southern Methodist University in suburban Dallas, undergraduate enrollment 6,000 students.

Why? To teach (college) kids how to play the game of basketball "The Right Way."

Brown, as Gabler points out, is a disciple of Dean Smith. Brown's "Right Way" like his mentor Smith's "Carolina Way" is predicated upon playing hard, smart and together; caring for teammates (and players) like family; and, (to) equipping players for success not just in (the game of) basketball, but in all areas of their lives.

Should you choose to actively contribute to, and participate in, these columns via emails, or to support them simply by reading them, you will quickly find some version of the "Right Way", the Carolina Way (of pursuing excellence with integrity) to be present in, and to pervade and persist throughout both (columns).

Email your questions, comments, concerns and thoughts to coach@with-character.com.

Matt Laczkowski is an attorney, a coach, and (now) a writer; applying the Carolina Way to all three. Reach him at matt@with-character.com.

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