Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Not everyone has the opportunity in life to be impacted by someone that has a lasting positive impression for the rest of there life. And having that impression continue to carry on in your adult life, in your day-to-day work, your interaction with family and friends or as some refer to as the curse or the blessing of sports.
I have had two such mentors in my life, my father Dave Hayford and Les Eathorne both with strong work ethics and both teachers of the game.
Growing up in East Bremerton and playing peewee, little league, and Jr high sports the goal was to some day play East high basketball. For me the goal started out with just get ting in the gym on Sunday. Leonard Barnes and I would walk up to the school every Sunday when we were in Jr high, remembering this was the big time and how nervous we were. We had been to the games and felt the excitement and had older brother and sisters that went to East but never to open gym. For me the path to open gym was a battle of wits. Me, Les and my choice of hairstyles, remember this was the 70’s. Theirs no mystery as who won but as many of us did we had to try. Les would stand by the side door to the gym and say Hayford your hair is to long, as I stood there in great surprise Les in a very clear and direct way your not coming in my gym until your cut that hair. Well after the 3rd attempt I made it inside. It proved to be a battle to get on the floor with the high school players and we were skinny nobody Jr high kids, at that point you could only hope there wasn’t enough players to put another team on the floor and they upper classmen had to choose you. We didn’t care we were in the big house and Les Eathorne was there. Today I’m still not sure if Les knows our first name as he always called us by our last name only.
As we got older and under stood our place within the walls of Les’s gym the nervousness went away and the excitement built, all we could think about was to play East high basketball and when the next game was. East High basketball is simply defined and to this day you mentioned you played at East High the first question ask is did you play for Les and yes I played with Rick Walker. Not many people in life touch your soul or symbolize an era as Les Eathorne did and East High Basketball.
To this day I still coach youth and high school sports and pull from my days of playing for Les and many times use the phrase remember the team that scores the most points wins.
Thank you coach Eathorne and thank you guys for your time, commitment and effort of putting this together.
Class of 1975
President / NW Building Tech Inc.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
HOW WONDERFUL TO GO BACK AND SEE THE START OF GREAT TRADITION WE ALL HAD PART OF AND LOOK AT ALL THE STARS WE WERE. WOULD BE FUN TO GET ALL THOSE PLAYERS TOGETHER WITH COACH E. WHAT A MAN. I THANK HIM WITH ALL MY HEART AS WELL AS ALL THE COACHES OF EAST HIGH I SAY THANK YOU
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Horseshoe Bay Texas
My very first flash of memory when I think of Coach Eathorne, Mr. or Les doesn’t sound right, is the slamming of the clip board on the gym floor with a piece of the masonite sliding half way across the court and the bench and the crowd getting quiet. My steel trap mind immediately told me he was unhappy. And the fact that I was sitting on the bench gave me hope that he wasn’t unhappy with me. What I grew to understand was that this wasn’t some random act of anger but a calculated action aimed at a referee, our team or both. It was meant to say we need to take it up a notch and Mr. Referee don’t get in our way. Eathorne was a genius at getting you to take it up a notch, particularly when you didn’t know you had another notch left. In fact I would submit that his most enduring legacy, to those with the privilege to play for him, was he was able to take 15-18 year old boys, raised mostly in a blue collar community with few parents who had college educations, and teach them that their biggest limitations were the ones they set for themselves. By demanding more and pushing us beyond our self imposed limits he made us realize that we could reach for and achieve goals well beyond our limited view of the world. Another high school coach named Sturdivant and a band leader named Francis did the same.
The team my senior year had some real talent if not much size. Anderson, Eno, Dolmseth, Leismann, Mackey, “Beans” Lee, Francalangia all had talent. I loved the game but had a body and an attitude that was more linebacker that power forward. As with a typical Eathorne team the strategy was pretty simple, full court press, fast break and beat them with conditioning and the transition game. His transition……….. our conditioning. Never before and never since, including a successful football career at Washington State, have I been in such good shape. It was a wonder they could even keep paint on the floor of the gym. We ran until our shoes, our feet or both were about to fall off. He forced you beyond that point of exhaustion where your mind and body said, “that’s it, I’m done, there ain’t no more to give.” Then you found there lurking in some unknown crevice of your brain that there was more, that the pain could be pushed to the back of your mind, that there was great joy and pride and satisfaction finding that you could do more than you thought you could. He already knew. I had to learn it, experience it, embrace it and fuse it with my will and determination.
Many years later in Chicago, at a senior management symposium on leadership, the moderator asks everyone to describe the person who had the greatest influence on their live. The responses included mothers, fathers, other family members, wives, ministers, grandparents, teachers, and mentors. My response was my coaches. From little league to college they pushed me beyond my self imposed limits. And theses coaches with their old sports/life cliché’s about preparation, hard work, practice, focus, and winning were actually instilling an attitude and discipline that would serve us the rest of our lives. But none had the enduring impact of Coach Eathorne. His enthusiasm became your enthusiasm. His hope became your hope. His will to win became your will to win. His willingness to pay the price became your willingness to pay the price. And once you have experienced the sheer joy of giving an endeavor all you can give, leaving nothing on the field, or the court, or at the office. It becomes the way you want to live your life.
I left Bremerton after graduation living all over the country in some 15 different cities. I would return to visit my parents and my 2nd mom, Jean McAboy, and only once did I find the time to seek the coach out and say thanks. If you get a chance to read this Coach, it is a very belated and expanded thank you. And what is truly amazing is that I am only one of hundreds or thousands you have touched in your life, both on and off the court. Few in this world leave such a wonderful and positive legacy.
The great work of coaches like Eathorne continues today and you can see it in many venues on and off the courts around the world. Masonite clipboards on the other hand are getting harder to find.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
My years of playing basketball at East High School and for Coach Eathorne were fantastic. We were trying to establish a new identity for East Bremerton as the school was only four years old when I graduated. I was part of the first freshman class when I was there. It was a very exciting time as far as lessons carried over to work life. I think it was the finest opportunity that anybody could have to develop lessons that are going to help them in business and in married life or whatever else.
As far as after graduation, I came back and coached at West High School from 1966-1971 and then another coach from Central Kitsap High School, Bob Moawad and I, started in the early 1970s a business called “Edge Learning Institute” that I still own and am the CEO of, to this day. We have had this company for the last 35 years. Bob Moawad passed away about a year and a half ago so I have the company by myself now, but Bob and I were business partners for 33 of those 35 years. We do training for corporations throughout the United States as well as some international enterprises as well.
Dick Anderson, CEO
Edge Learning Institute
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
The neighbor behind us was the Eathorne family.
The first impression we gave our neighbor was the day we locked Mike out of the house. It ended with a CRASH! Our house had two sliding glass doors. The downstairs sliding glass door was in little pieces on the ground. The Walker boys had arrived!
Les saw that I was the tall one and perhaps wanted to keep me out of trouble. He must of asked Mark to invite me over to see if I could play basketball. I remember the day Mark first asked me if I wanted to play basketball.
I said, “Sure.”
He threw me a round orange ball. (And I said to myself, what do I do with this? I really had not heard of the game of basketball.) They had a hoop nailed to the back of their garage. That was the day I was introduced to the game of basketball.
As the years went by, Mark would invite me to go with him and his dad to the East High gym. The basketball team had practice. We would watch them run around for a while, then, we would go play on the wrestling mats, swing on the climbing rope, hide under the bleachers and basically stay out of trouble.
I was invited to go to some of the games. It was awesome for a young kid to see the drama of East basketball before the game even began. The players running through the banner, the Knight and squire with the sword coming into the gym, the lights going out and the spotlight coming on, people cheering and going crazy, the introduction of the players, the pep band. All was designed to create the atmosphere for East High Basketball.
The most fun was sitting behind the East High bench. We would look like we were watching the game, but secretly we played our own little game. We would dare each other to trace with our finger, very lightly, over the name stitched on the back of the warm up jackets. If the player felt our touch, by usually turning around to see what we were doing, we would lose. I remember the toughest name to get all the way through, without him feeling it, was Gundlefinger.
Then came the day I was to attend East High School. As a freshman I feared, Mr. Eathorne even though I grew up in his neighborhood. At school, he had a way to instill fear in freshmen.
I started going to open gyms to play. The East High gym was the place to be on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sunday afternoons. I remember the day he told me to guard Steve Boyce. THE Steve Boyce? He was a senior, I was a freshman. “Boy”, I thought, “Eathorne did not like me.”
That’s the way Les coached. He challenged you to compete beyond your comfort zone in an attempt to help you realize your full potential.
I remember him saying to me after one open gym, “Good job, Walker.”
Man, that was a great feeling. I also discovered that playing with the “big boys” wasn’t all that difficult. The coach just wanted to see your hustle your butt off. You did not need a lot of talent.
He did not have to say much. After awhile, one could tell whether he approved of your play by the way he looked at you.
When I became a junior, something changed. He talked to me more as a person, not just a player. I found out that he purposely instilled fear in the heart and minds of little freshmen to see if they really wanted to play East High Basketball.
Coach taught his players how to represent their family and community; how to take pride in their school; how to conduct themselves in public; what it meant to work hard and pursue excellence. He had high expectations and he expected you to fulfill them. He taught us to be quality young men and contributing citizens.
It was Les that introduced me to coaching. Les called me up the day before practice was to begin in 1984 and said he did not have a JV coach for this season. He asked me to come down to the gym and apply. If I liked it, I could have a job. Like it! It was great!
As I went on in my coaching career, East High basketball was the standard I used to evaluate any other program. It was the example I followed to build my programs.
From watching the drama as a kid, to being part of the drama was an experience I cannot fully articulate. The website explains more of the traditions that impacted the young men who played for him and the community. I have seen and experienced Coach Eathorne’s commitment to his players from an early age. I thank him for his influence. I was unusually blessed having a coach and mentor who was a neighbor and is a friend.
King’s West School