Jim Burson blog; Be Great In Your Own Way: The Coaching Connection; www.JimBurson.com

We must all be great in our own way.

Christmas is a week away! That sounds unbelievable; it seems like we had Thanksgiving just last week! Time does fly and we have so much to be joyful for.

Be prepared — I’m writing more about John Glenn. I’m quite aware that I wrote about him just last week, but I’m certain that if there’s anyone on earth who warrants being written about a lot, now and always, it’s John Glenn. I just did a search for his name: 140 million results!

John Glenn was laid to rest on December 17. I was proud to speak last week at a candlelight service in his memory that was held at theWestminster Presbyterian Church (the Glenn family’s home church) in New Concord and reflected on what he meant to me and to our community. His impact was felt everywhere, but of course none so much as in New Concord.

Later in the week I walked into the kitchen and found the real head coach in tears with the newspaper in her hands. She was looking at the picture of Annie Glenn in her wheelchair, her head bowed, resting her hand on John’s flag-draped casket that was lying in state at the Columbus Statehouse. It was a moment that said it all for all of us who loved John and Annie for what they stood for.

John Glenn was a small-town boy with a big-time love for Muskingum University and New Concord.

John Glenn, Rodeo Astronaut

I once met a cowboy at a rodeo in Montana. He asked where I was from; I said, “New Concord”, then “Muskingum College”; then as he continued to look at me quizzically, I tried my ace in the hole: “the home of John Glenn!” That did it. He quickly responded with a big smile, “Oh. You mean the Rodeo Cowboy!” I told that story to John and Annie when I next saw them and they laughed like crazy. I guess you could say that John Glenn rode the Friendship 7 like he was riding a wild horse at a rodeo!

Several years ago John and Annie were asked the key to longevity. They agreed that fitness is the most important ingredient. They both did regular workouts and exercises right up until John passed away. Of course, as an astronaut he was required to be fit, but it was his discipline and dedication to fitness that allowed him to go back into space at the age of 77.

John’s lifelong commitment to exercise also gave him a long life with great mobility, up until just a few months ago. Annie, of course, has long been a fitness and health advocate.

When John and Annie were asked about money, they replied, “You need enough to pay your bills and it is important that you save enough so you can enjoy your retirement.” They went on to say that if you’re doing whatever you do in life for money only, you won’t last long!

That last statement is certainly very true for them. They always espoused leading a positive and fulfilling life, supported by a strong belief in God and country. I’m sure that one of the keys to their longevity has been being at peace no matter what the situations in life brought forth.

For example, whenever John left on a mission (he flew 149 combat missions during WWII and the Korean War and later became a military test pilot) he’d tell Annie he was just going to the corner store to get a pack of gum; she would reply, “Don’t be long.” This ritual seemed to strengthen their faith that he would return.

John and Annie also believed that you must never stop learning. They both loved to learn new things and tried to stay up with the way that young people thought. John was an avid reader, as is Annie, and both were great listeners, which they agreed is a great way to learn!

There were a lot of things that allowed John to live to be 95 . . .

He loved a lot, he laughed a lot, and he lived a lot every day.

John Glenn’s life was a masterpiece for all of us to model!


Two Blast-Off Shout-Outs!

Blast Off #1.

My brother, John Burson, will retire from the United States Post Office after 46 years of service as a mail carrier in Marysville, Ohio!

He once told me that he averaged 35-40,000 steps a day. If someone would add that up, I think he could join John Glenn in orbit!

John loved his job. He loved the people on his route, he loved Marysville, and he loved his family. There are not many better people in this world than my little brother John. Have a great retirement!


Blast Off #2.

My dear buddy in life, Kathy Smith, has been secretary for the Muskingum University Athletic Department for the past 45 years. She has served four athletic directors, including me, and has been the rock and mainstay of this department throughout her career.

I am preparing myself to step into the Recreation Center and not see her there. This is difficult. I will miss her for many reasons. Yes, she has been a tremendous secretary and manager, but most of all she has shared her love generously with coaches, students and everyone who stops by her office.

Have a great retirement, Kathy! Thanks for everything! You are indeed a wonderful lady!


Blast off and be great in your own way!

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Image: © Jennifer Lyle