PUBLISHED: 4:34 PM on Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Determination wins for coaches and athletes

  Judy Halone
Determination takes both great coaches and athletes. Take Jeff Wilson's story, for example.

Wilson was a junior at Oregon Institute of Technology back in 1984 when he

decided to play football.

"I'd already been playing baseball," Wilson said.

He approached the coach. "Let me come out for the team."

"He said he already had two All-American players in the position I wanted,"

Wilson recalled. "Basically, he politely told me to get lost."

But he didn't. Instead, he watched the team play through the season. Then the coach suddenly transferred to a competing school within the district. Determined, Wilson

waited for the right opportunity then took his chance.

"I talked to the new coach in my senior year and said I wanted to play,"

Wilson said. "Keep in mind I was four years out of high school and the other

guys were playing in their fifth year."

But determination dominated Wilson's spirit.

"He pretty much told me the same thing - that it had been a long time out

of school for me," Wilson said. "Then he said, 'but if you'd like to come

out and try, I'd love to have you.'"

Determination paid off and Wilson played cornerback his first game of the

season - just in time to play against the team whose coach had once told

him to get lost.

"Early in the fourth quarter we fell behind. Then we came back and won the

game," Wilson recalled.

But for the college senior who lived and breathed determination, it got even


"At the end of the game both coaches came out together on the field," he

said. "The former coach's wife was there with him, hanging on his arm. When

the coaches shook each others' hands, I came up to the old one and asked, 'Hey coach - do you remember me?' And I took my helmet off and placed it under my arm.

"I told him, 'it's another year, and I just kicked your (butt),'" Wilson

said. "His wife whopped him along the side."

I think there were three winners that night: Wilson, his new coach, and


"When he gave me the chance, that's all I wanted," Wilson concluded.

For a five-foot-seven, 140-pound athlete who simply wanted to play his

"A" game, I think determination was everything - and that can be a coach's greatest trophy - don't you agree?

I will be featuring favorite sayings from breast cancer survivors in October. Please contact judy(at) if you'd like to share.

Judy Halone is a member of the WNPA and the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Copyright © 2007 by Judy Halone.