Coach John Wooden and Buies Creek

This story is from our GoCamels website.

The basketball community lost an icon and Campbell University lost a long-time friend on June 4, 2010 when Coach John Wooden passed away at the age of 99.

As a college basketball coach, few could rival the accomplishments of John Robert Wooden. In 27 years as head coach at UCLA, Wooden led his teams to an unprecedented 10 NCAA National Championships, including seven-consecutive titles from 1966-73. Included in that string is one of the most amazing win streaks in all of sport – 38 straight NCAA Tournament victories.

From 1970-74, Coach Wooden’s teams won an NCAA-record 88-straight games, and in 1972, he was inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame, becoming the first and only person inducted to the Hall as a player and coach.

“The Wizard of Westwood” is the only college coach to compile four undefeated seasons of 30-0 and his Bruins captured 16 conference championships.

Not only did Coach Wooden lead his UCLA teams to a 620-147 won-lost record, he also spent much of his free time teaching the game to young players nationwide. For many years in the 1960s and 1970s, Coach Wooden would travel to Buies Creek to teach and lecture at the Campbell Basketball School.

Coach Wooden embraced Fred McCall’s camp and the community of Buies Creek. He even wrote a poem about his experience in 1966 while returning to Los Angeles from the Campbell Basketball School.

Among the many awards bestowed upon Coach Wooden are the 1970 Sporting News Sportsman of the Year and the 1973 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. He was presented an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Campbell in 1973.

Born Oct. 14, 1910 in Martinsville, Ind., Wooden earned All-America honors at Purdue University in 1930, ’31 and ’32. He led the Boilermakers to the national championship in 1932 when he was named College Basketball Player of the Year. Coach Wooden passed away June 4, 2010. He was preceded in death by his wife, Nell.

Through the course of his career, Coach Wooden summarized key points in his philosophy of basketball and life through the Pyramid of Success. He also incorporated into his life, a “Seven-Point Creed,” which was given to him by his father Joshua upon his graduation from grammar school.

Be true to yourself

Make each day your masterpiece.

Help others.

Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.

Make friendship a fine art.

Build a shelter against a rainy day.

Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day.

Coach Wooden’s poem, sent to Coach Fred McCall in 1966, follows.

Dear Fred,

In the heart of North Carolina is a place called Buies Creek,
Where countless young men gather every summer for a week.
Do you wonder why they go there, do you wonder what they seek?
It’s to supplement their knowledge of the greatest game of all,
It’s to learn the many secrets of the game of basketball.
It’s to learn to play with others, to place team above oneself.
It’s to experience many lessons more important than much wealth.
The site is Campbell College, the director is Fred McCall,
A man who adds much stature to the game of basketball,
And a man who’s quick to answer every youngster’s beckon call.
With Bayou Press to help him and his able Campbell Crew,
It’s no wonder this camp rates ahead of number two.
It’s no wonder that the boys here, every Bill and Tom and Jack,
Leave for home at week’s end with the thought of coming back.
All the staff assembled there I’ll pleasantly recall,
Especially the boss of them, ever-thoughtful Fred McCall.
I’ll remember Big Jim Gudger and the way he liked to eat,
And the fact that on his home ground he’s impossible to beat.
And T-Pot Fry and Jerry Steele will often come to mind,
Because they too are men of class, Fred wants no other kind.
Friendly Sam and Pleasant Red also took my eye,
I’m sure the teams with whom they work will always rate quite high.
And for the essick man from Pfeiffer the Pride of Sibatan,
I’ll wish for all his rivals the title also-ran.
For Ira of Norfolk’s easy way I’ll e’re be grateful too,
And all the wise who know his size would not dispute this view.
Bill Miller’s way with both young and old,
Gruff outside, but inside gold.
A friend of mine I hope he’ll be,
Because he made a friend of me.
I’m also pleased I got to know,
Victrola Dolph of the swarmy show.
His gentle humor can’t be beat,
His presence gave us all a treat.
Of course there’s Press, my snoring roomie,
Known to some as the great, great swamie,
Who’s threat to use his commander drill,
Would keep the loudest campers still.
To him most special thanks I give,
With him it was a joy to live.
And the Belgium coach, John Heisicum
From Brussels I believe he’s from,
Proved that at this school to be,
Was worth a trip from across the sea.
For Hargrove Davis, kind words I use,
He’s saved my feet with his own shoes.
To Cliff and Ray and James and Dan,
And Ronnie and Bob of the Camel Clan,
And Al and Jack of the Ice Cream Crew,
My sincere thanks to all of you.
I’ll often think of Sorensen,
And of his advice “Keep on Keeping on.”
There’s many things I will recall,
The Golden voice of Fred McCall.
But I just heard the pilot say,
Twenty minutes to L.A.
So I will close with one more thought,
To me much pleasure you all brought.
So good luck friends, best wishes too,
May all your dreams quite soon come true.

Written by John Wooden in June 1966 on a flight back to California