A couple of weeks ago, I was in the Atlanta area I got to spend the afternoon with my High School Basketball Coach – Jay Dye. I wanted to hear more of his story and thank him for playing such a big part in my story. We relived a bunch of moments. I thanked him for always pushing me. Here are some memorable “push” moments:
- It was my sophomore year and I was tired of always being called out by Coach Dye. It seemed that every time I let up, made a mistake or loafed he called me out. My lack of focus was often met with fingertip push-ups and or bleacher laps. I remember being in the locker room and thinking – I should just quit. I voiced my thoughts to Chuck Lambert, one of the starters on the Varsity. He said something like: “You gotta be kidding Mayer. He is on you because he believes there is more in you. Chuck said, “You don’t see him riding (a specific player I won’t name) – because he doesn’t think there is more in him.”
- It was the end of my Junior year and my play had really improved. I had a double/double in the state playoffs. Coach Dye caught me in the hallway and invited me into his office that afternoon. I thought – He is going to tell me “I am a star and this next year would be amazing”. Instead, he said, “Mayer, you are a jack of all trades and a master of none. He said “you play decent defense, offense and you are a good rebounder – but – you’re not best at any of those. You lack focus. If you want to play basketball at the next level you need to master one of those”. BTW, I took his words to heart and averaged 21 rebounds a game my senior year.
- During my senior year, we were scrimmaging full court. I threw a pass behind my back and missed the intended player by miles and the ball went out of bounds. I laughed. Coach Dye blew the whistle and said: “Mayer, give me 15 fingertips”.
Some of the stories I told he recalled and some he just smiled as I told them. I looked him in the eye and said, “Coach, thank you for teaching me the power of focus and never letting me slide by with a halfway effort.” I listened to him tell stories of all the teams he coached over the years. His memory seemed as sharp as ever. One of the best things Coach Dye did for me was let me pray before games. The tradition was the team would recite the Lord’s Prayer together in our pregame huddle. Out of the blue, Coach said, “Mayer, lead us in prayer”. He gave me that opportunity several times that year.
Before I left his home, I gave Coach Dye a copy of my book, “Making the Critical Connection“. In this book, I tell a couple of stories about Coach Dye and his impact on my life. As I was leaving he gave me:
- A rope puzzle – you see it in the picture. He makes and sends these to injured vets.
- A jar of his homemade fig jelly.
- A small box trap to fool my grandkids.
It was a great chance to catch up with a great man. I would send him a link to this Blog post but he says he hasn’t used his wifi in a couple of years.
I am grateful for God’s kindness to me by letting me play for Coach Dye. I learned so many things from him about life and basketball. God Bless you Coach Dye you made a difference in my life and the lives of many others.