Ordinary to Extraordinary

The difference between an ordinary human and an extraordinary one is not much. No, I’m also not going to say, “it’s that little extra,” because that’s corny and doesn’t convey my point. Every year around this time I love to watch one of my favorite sports documentaries. It’s called “Survive and Advance.” It’s an ESPN 30 for 30 that chronicles the run of one of the greatest sports upsets in history: the 1983 NCAA College Basketball Champion North Carolina State Wolfpack.  

If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend you purchase it on YouTube. I think it’s like $3. The story is about this team that absolutely NO ONE gave any chance to win it all and their charismatic coach. 

If you look up “greatest college basketball coaches,” you will most certainly NOT come across Coach Valvano. He won ONE championship. He coached at a major program for only 10 years and people thought of him more as an entertainer than a basketball coach. When you heard him speak, you thought you might have turned on the wrong press conference or something. He seemed more like a member of the Rat Pack than a basketball coach. 

The documentary explains how this team that no one thought was any good ended up beating arguably one of the most talented teams to ever walk on a court in college basketball. The University of Houston, at that time, had two future NBA Hall of Famers on the team. They had two other guys who would play professionally, as well. This NC State team had ONE future NBA player. College basketball has 130 teams and each team has roughly 15 guys on it. The NBA has 30 teams with 15 guys on it so you can see how if you have FOUR future NBA players on your team versus just one, it’s kind of a mismatch. 

Anywho, the documentary constantly cuts to a speech Coach Valvano gives to a sales group in 1985. The entire speech is also on YouTube. It’s called “cutting down the nets.” It is also great and worth a watch. There are two parts in the speech that I think of constantly this time of year. The first is the topic of this blog, linked her: Going from ordinary to extraordinary

So often, we believe that doing what we want or achieving what we want isn’t possible. When I hear this part of his speech it reminds me, God did NOT make anyone more special than the rest of us. We all bleed. We all walk on two feet and have two eyes and two ears. No one can look through walls or fly. No one can teleport or is invisible. The difference between being ordinary and extraordinary is believing you can accomplish what you set out to and having a support group that shares the same belief. 

There’s another piece of the speech where Coach Valvano discusses how important his father was to him. During his father’s later years, Coach Valvano didn’t get to spend much time with him. A basketball coach of a major college program is busy. He’s constantly traveling and yet a deep void presents itself in Coach Valvano’s life with the passing of his father. He wonders what it was exactly that he missed so much, and suddenly, it hits him. He calls it “the gift my father gave me.” 

“I believe it’s the strongest and most precious gift you could ever receive. My father believed in me. He believed in me when I failed. He was one of those people who after I spoke to I ALWAYS felt better than before,” he states. 

Believe in yourself. Believe in others. Share in the spirit this holiday season. God bless.


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