700 Club CBN Shows

The 700 Club

Coach Wooden's Lessons from Basketball Camp

John Wooden was a 3 year, All-American and college basketball player of the year in the early 1930’s.  From 1948 to 1975, Wooden was head coach of men’s basketball at UCLA.  His accomplishments include 10 national championships in 12 years, 7 of those in a row, a record 88 straight wins and in 4 seasons, his team had 30 victories without a single loss.  That’s why Pat decided to write his fourth book on Coach Wooden’s “second career” as a coach at summer youth basketball camps.  “He’s the greatest coach of all time in any sport,” he says.  In July 2009, the Sporting News made it official by publishing a ranking of the 50 greatest coaches of all time, both collegiate and professional, in all sports.  A blue-ribbon panel of sportswriters, coaches and top athletes placed Wooden at the top.  Pat discovered that Wooden conducted the John Wooden Basketball Fundamentals Camp from 1971 (while still coaching at UCLA) to the mid-1980’s.  “Most people thought that after Coach retired from college basketball coaching in 197, he had faded into obscurity,” says Pat.  “He had moved on to a new phase of his career as a teacher, mentor and coach.”  Every summer he would lead 3 weeklong basketball camps, each one accommodating approximately 100 boys and girls ranging in ages from elementary school to high school.  

One such camper was Jim Caviezel, the man who played Jesus in Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of Christ.  Jim’s dad played freshman basketball at UCLA under Wooden in 1959-60.  “I knew Coach Wooden until he died,” says the young Caviezel.  “And he was like my grandfather.”  Jim’s father gave him a choice one summer: go to Wooden’s camp or work on a farm baling hay.  Jim went to camp.  There he learned the fundamentals of the game – and of life.  Wooden was famous for his talks on the Pyramid of Success which includes loyalty, friendship, self-control, skill and competitive greatness.  Caviezel learned the importance of maintaining one’s character and values.  Caviezel grew up a devout Catholic and rejects any screen roles that would violate his faith.

Coach Wooden focused on details.  He even told his players how to stand their shoes up against the walls at the end of each day.  If they set their shoes at an angle, the shoes would air out and any dampness would evaporate.  One former camper still sets his shoes up against the wall to this day.  One day, this camper, now a father, explained this technique to his young son, saying that he learned the method from Coach Wooden.  His wife overheard the explanation.  For years, she had no idea why her husband set his shoes up on the wall every night!

Coach took questions at his camps which were videotaped.  Pat culled through hours of these videos. One young camper asked Coach what his favorite book was. He answered: The Bible.  When asked if there was a particular experience that brought him to Christ, Coach said, “It was a gradual process.  I accepted Christ when I was a junior in high school because of Nellie.  She was the only girl I ever dated.  I was married to her for 53 years before she passed away.  She wanted us to be baptized together, and we were.”

Mentioned in the Video



Guest Info


Co-founder, Orlando Magic, 1987

Inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame

Ran 58 marathons

Led 23 teams to the NBA playoffs

Author of dozens of books, his latest: Coach Wooden’s Forgotten Teams

Education: BS, Wake Forrest, Masters, Indiana Univ.

Doctorate in Humane Letters, Flagler Univ.

Married to Ruth

Father of 19 children (4 birth kids, 14 internationally adopted, 1 by remarriage), 17 grandchildren


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