When someone leaves this physical life we are left with the juxtaposing of enshrining their legacy against our lived experiences with them. It is a dichotomy everyone will deal with in death. The things you least liked about someone in life are the things you least think about them in death. The toiling tug-o-war and malady of memories cause you to really reexamine the totality of their presence in your life.
As a child I can
remember numerous faith leaders exploring the bounds of living processes and
how the bounty of those experiences could be qualitative or quantitative. Once a
faith leader said this “If you are praying for patience do you think you are
just given patience? Or do you think you are given tests where you develop
patience?” Clearly as an adult you know that patience is gifted through battery
of tests proctored by numerous of persons passing through your life.
As we meander to
and fro through our lives we strive to accomplish goals and dreams. We see
others doing what we want and we begin to emulate them. Some of these only
became what we desired to become because of exposure. As a child who sees their
local hero shooting that winning shoot; scoring that winning touchdown; killing
that last serve; etc., you become absorbed
with the idea of this what I want to do. We even see our favorite professional
superstars on TV or in person adding more enthusiasm to our desires to become our
version or better of them.
The process of becoming
is twofold. You have to do the research of what makes this superstar (in our
minds) become who they are. Then you have to develop a plan to obtain our goal
of becoming just like or better than them. We put our plan in motion. Getting
up early to get that extra workout out in before your regular team practice
would surely give you the edge you needed to get a better position on the
team. But what happens when your best
isn’t good enough? What happens when you fall prey to your happenstances and
the victory of becoming you so desperately seek is now aloft?
Enter Coach Rip!
Coach Rip was that guy who would see a D1 player being a gym rat at the local
community center and invite him to try out for him. Total transparency here …
that player didn’t have to be a D1 player he could just be a young man with a zeal
for competition, a good jump shot, quick up and down the court, and not attached
to another team. Coach Rip was infamous for finding dynamic athletes. He would
find those who had either failed other attempts at collegiate play, let life
alter their sound decision making, never considered playing collegiate ball, or
just needed a second chance in life to get it together and of course some just
found him via his legacy or others were referred to him.
When you walked
into a gym with Coach Rip there was an immediate expectation from you. As an
athlete you did not want to let him down. I watched many athletes who struggled
with their personal hang-ups fight to show Coach Rip his choosing was not in
vain. Although some would succumb to those hang-ups many went on to accomplish
the goal they set out. Coach Rip was tough on the court and courtside but funny
off the court. He had the heart of a servant when came to putting young men
from all walks of life in the best situation possible for them to compete for
him. I witnessed him open his hands, his home, his wallet but especially hisheart to sow seeds into the lives of so many athletes.
If you were his
assistant coach there was a love/hate relationship as to be expected as many
mentor/mentee relationships are. The toggle of his genius and methods made fodder
for a good reality show. As assistants we’d often toe the line but he was the
obvious elder statesmen in the gym with an impeccable basketball coaching pedigree
to prove why he was who he was. His Basketball
IQ was unparalleled and if you worked with him long enough it would rub off
on you. Once we were down by 5 points in a game with 1:50 left on the clock.
Coach Rip called timeout; pulled us in a huddle and said this is a three ball
possession game now. He gave the strategy for our athletes to execute and what
we the assistants were supposed to focus on in those last moments of the game. His
plan of execution worked and we won the game.
As an assistant
men’s basketball coach who happened to be a woman working alongside Coach Rip
was quite the experience. Under his tutelage not only did I get to improve and
enhance my coaching skills but he allowed to me cut and sharpen my athletic
administration teeth as well. Truthfully Coach Rip gave so many of us
assistants or athletes the foundations we needed to GROW ON to be better in many other areas in our lives within ATHLETICS and outside of it. One of the
funniest moments I will ever cherish about him off the court is his love of
food. We were at a restaurant and he wanted a steak. Unfortunately the
restaurant didn’t have steak. He said, “Dang
that’s no good! Guess we’re not gonna eat tonight Coach …. and looked at me.”
We all laughed. He had chicken that night.
Coach Rip was
incapable of convalescing quietly while the GAME WENT on! If you went to visit him in his latter days you’d see
him sitting with his assistants or on the phone with them doing the only thing
that gave him true joy and pleasure
prepping for the next GAME! Basketball
was Coach Rip’s DNA. He lived, breathed,
and died for BASKETBALL. Cancer may
have taken his life but not his LEGACY!
Coach Rip had his own way of doing HIM
and what he LOVED to do but all LEGENDS do! I can only imagine how the GAME is looking in HEAVEN right now. He’s probably trying to convince Kobe to start a
summer league. Coach Charles Ripley we all carry your LEGACY on and on. You will forever be missed but forever be loved! Rest Easy Coach Rip you deserve it!
Dedicated to Coach Charles Ripley
|Coach Rip and FCA@ABC