Jim Burson blog; The Coaching Connection: These Friends Are Worth a Red-Eye Flight (and a Rainy LA); www.jimburson.com

What friends would you travel 3,000 miles on a red-eye to a rainy LA to see?

“It never rains in California but girl, let me warn ya, it pours! Man, it pours!” I couldn’t help thinking of those lyrics during my recent visit to Los Angeles. It was sunny and 60 degrees back home in Ohio, but it was rainy and 60 degrees in LA! Sixty and rainy in LA is a lot colder than 60 and sunny in Ohio, especially in mid-February.

I traveled to LA to spend time with my friends and fellow “retired” coaches George Raveling and Glenn Wilkes. Although all three of us are retired from active coaching, none of us will ever retire from life, learning or basketball!

Great minds, great people, great friends

George and Glenn are two of the great minds and great people I have ever met in the game of basketball. They are super friends and mentors who love to share their tremendous knowledge of the game. They both have the ability to make you feel important and feel that what you say is valuable to them! These are very special traits.

Both men are also great learners. And they are both tremendous readers.

George reads 3 to 5 newspapers every day and devours books daily at the age of 79. It is amazing and wonderful how he loves to share his information with his friends. He is truly excited about improving the game of basketball and about keeping Nike #1 in his position as Director of International Basketball. He has a great ability to be kind to everyone he meets and to listen to their story. He especially loves to meet and help smart, creative and enterprising young people with their careers. Whenever I talk to or see George, he makes me feel like the world is good and that I have a lot to contribute to its getting better.

Glenn Wilkes is known as the father of Florida basketball. He has won the most games of any coach in the history of Stetson University. Glenn is a passionate people person, always asking questions and listening to all the people he engages. At the age of 88 he is, unusually, an avid digital learner – he ran a website before most coaches had ever heard of the Internet. To this day he hosts two websites, runs the Jordan camp, hosts overseas team trips and runs tournaments. He is always seeking ways to grow, to learn, and most importantly to share his knowledge with others. One of the first books I bought as a young coach, decades before I ever met him, was his Fundamentals of Coaching Basketball.

You can see why I was happy to travel from Ohio to the west coast to spend time with Glenn and George. What a great opportunity for me to learn, to grow and to be excited about life.

You are as young as you direct your heart to be

The message is clear. Age and circumstances do not matter; you can always improve your position in life. You get to share this great experience – life – with others. So share your joy and your love of life with every one of them.

Yes, I was even glad to come home on a red-eye flight. I didn’t care that I was exhausted because I was excited about what tomorrow holds. You are as young as those around you and as young as you direct your heart to be.


It does rain in New Concord, too, but the sun will always shine in your heart if you have great friends and family.

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You can listen to Albert Hammond’s song “It Never Rain in Southern California” here.
Photo: Sergey Drozdov © Fotolia