There are times when you feel just incredibly stupid. Maybe you have never felt that way, but for me it has happened (unfortunately more than once).
I will never forget the time I met a very famous coach, and didn’t know it. And in not knowing it, I asked a really dumb question.
Here’s what happened…
We moved back to Central Texas in the summer of 2006. Summer in this part of Texas is rodeo season.
So it was in July of that year that I found myself at the Marble Falls Rodeo. It is an annual event, and alot of fun.
While we were waiting for the event to start I saw seated to my right and well dressed (for a rodeo) couple. I’m not sure what caught my attention. I didn’t think much of it.
Strangely enough, the next day I was at a local grocery store and by chance saw the very same husband and wife doing their shopping. I thought to myself how strange it was to recognize a couple I didn’t know but had seen only the day before.
Well, if that wasn’t strange enough, a couple of days later I find myself sitting in church, waiting for the service to begin. I look across the auditorium, and there they are again! In our very church!
Being the spiritually minded guy I am, I thought this must be a sign, and I decided then and there that I would introduce myself to them. I mean, seeing and recognizing a man and a woman in three different locations in just a few days seemed somehow significant.
So, after the service was over and folk were mingling around outside the church, I found the gentleman outside and decided it was time.
I walked up, introduced myself and struck up a conversation.
I asked if was new in the area, and he said he and his wife had moved here within the past year. I explained our connection to this part of Central Texas, and told him about what we had been doing for most of our career.
I asked him what he did for a living, and he replied that he was a coach.
I noticed he looked incredibly fit for his age (early 60s at the time), and asked if he was a football coach. You have to understand: Football is like a religion in Texas, so the question wasn’t all that crazy to ask.
Right about then was when I knew I had just made a big fool of myself (asking if he was a football coach). I’m not the brightest bulb in the pack, but neither am I the dimmest. But asking a NCAA Div 1 swim coach if he is a football coach is pretty dumb!
He told me his name, and was ever so gracious about me asking if he was a football coach. We continued to talk that day.
Over the next few months I would see him at church. My wife joined a pilates class taught by his wife at their home.
And he and his wife actually joined a class I taught at our church a few times. He was always gracious, and really impressed me with his humble attitude.
In the summer of 2007 he actually joined a team from the church on a mission trip to a South Asian country and his fame, when discovered by the local media, opened some very exciting doors for the team.
Who was that man? His name was Richard Quick, and he was one of the most successful swimming coaches ever…anywhere. He coached six Olympic teams. In addition to Stanford, Quick coached at the University of Texas and at Auburn University.
I never knew him all that well, but I was always struck by his genuine humility. Had I not asked if he was a football coach, he wouldn’t have told me he was a swimming coach. In fact, he never ever told me how successful he had been.
There are times when we all feel the need to seem successful. But true success is never measured by how well we are known, but by the impact we have on other’s lives. Richard Quick knew that well.
Richard passed away in June 2009 after a short fight against a brain tumor.
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