February 11, 2010

Off-Topic: Coach Speckman

Ran into my college HC last week when he was in town visiting two of our guys. It's always a lot of fun to see him because he's such a great guy and such a priceless character. For those of you who don't know about him, Mark Speckman, HC at Willamette University (DIII) in Salem, Or. was born without hands. Rather than be limited by them, he's been motivated by them, accomplishing things that most people never will. Read more about him at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Speckman or http://www.speckmanspeaks.com/ (I'm just off-camera in that one).

I'll give you an example of what makes him so incredible:
For some background info, I hate Oregon. Well, I hate it now, I liked it for like, two years before growing to hate it with a passion. I hated the rain, hated the weather, hated a lot of the type of people that I'd run into up there. What was always a surprise was how hot and almost muggy August could be up there.
One August it's particularly hot in Salem during our fall camp. We're having a team meeting in a small lecture room type thing and it's uncomfortable to say the least. 100+ football players in a poorly ventilated room = no bueno. Coach Speck is up at the front doing a talk about something that involves the overhead projector. He's a little grouchy because it's hot, but his grouchy is usually pretty funny, until he gets mad.
Using a project for Coach Speck isn't easy and this one was no different. Turns it on, it's out of focus. Focuses the lens, but forgot to separate the coversheet from the xerox transparency. Lens is focused, transparency is visible, but the screen is too small. For a man with no hands, there's a lot of grasping and turning and whatnot that needs to be done. Speck's getting frustrated. He's fighting with each cover sheet on each transparency because it's hot and his wrists are a little slick from perspiration and so he can't get as much friction as he'd like to separate the two.
So Coach Speck reaches over and turns on the fan so he can cool off a bit. Fan starts in the stationary mode, but he puts it on oscillate because it "reminds me of that good ol' modesto breeze, like being at the dump..." Problem is, he had to move the cart that the projector was on in order to plug the fan in. So he has to go through all the trouble of fixing the focus, adjusting the size, etc all over again and he's getting down right annoyed. Guys are complaining about the image on the screen, so he pushes the cart forward to where it had been. Cart moves forward, pushes on the cord of the fan, fan turns and oscillates right into a stack of ~110 papers Coach was going to hand out.
FWOOM! Papers every where. Speck grabs his visor, throws it on the ground, and we get ready for the fury. "GOD DAMMIT!" Collective intake of breath. "I can't do anything right today! Friggin' projector is out of focus, slides are being a pain, fan's blowing paper everywhere, I GOT NO GODDAMN HANDS!" 110 men absolutely loose their shit.
Anyone would have excused Coach Speck for getting annoyed with the situation, except for him. There was never an excuse that was good enough for him, never a reason why something couldn't be done. It was either that you hadn't figured out how or you didn't actually want to.
To leave you, here's a short list of the things I've witnessed him do:
  • Play racquetball
  • Throw a 40 yard spiral
  • Play the worst Rock Paper Scissors 2 out of 3 you've ever seen
  • Drive, while talking on his cell phone, pre-Bluetooth
  • Mimic boy scout flag signals to hysterical effect
  • Play the trombone (Not in person, but seen video)

So what's stopping you from accomplishing your goals?


  1. Just wanted to say this had me laughing out loud in class. Great post and so true- there's never a reason good enough to put in front of your dreams.

  2. I had a chance to see Coach Speckman at a clinic recently, he was the keynote speaker. Needless to say he is a very inspiring guy, if you ever get the chance to see him speak dont pass it up.

    Joshua Norton