The Best Teacher and Coach Sammy Dunn
Teacher’s Day is on the eighth of this month, but that doesn’t mean we all have to think about a professional educator who helped us out sometime in our youth. A teacher can be anyone who taught us something important. Our parents are teachers, a mentor is a teacher, and the coach of a sports team can be a great teacher. coached me in seventh, ninth, and 10th grades. Starting in fourth grade, all the way through my senior year, I was a basketball “gym rat.” I loved playing basketball. I had several coaches, but there is no doubt that he was the best coach I ever had the pleasure of playing for. One thing I loved about him was how he pushed me. Most coaches got mad for their players taking too many outside shots, but he would get upset with me if I did not take enough outside shots. This was way before the three-point line was instituted. He was great at coaching basketball, but he was great at baseball, too. In his time spent coaching varsity baseball, he took his teams to nine state championships between 1991 and 2000, with seven in a row from 1994–2000. In 1998, his team was awarded the High School National Championship, and he was named National Coach of the Year, which he won a second time the following year. He was recognized as such a fantastic coach that he was offered the head baseball coaching job at the University of Alabama, but he ended up turning the offer down due to his wife’s health. The best teacher I ever had was my favorite basketball coach, Sammy Dunn. Coach Dunn
There is no doubt in my mind that he could’ve had success no matter what he did as a coach. He just had that “it” factor. I first met Coach Dunn in seventh grade. In the first practice I had with him, I got a sense of who he was. He was the kind of coach who demanded a lot from his players, always pushing them to their limits during practice. He was tough but fair; practices could be brutal. I remember there were many times when we were as exhausted after the pregame warmup as we would have been if we had just finished playing a whole game. With him leading our team, we were required to “get after it” hard. Part of that ethos was designed to intimidate our opponents, and it did. Now, I know some people might think that’s a bit extreme, but Coach Dunn inspired us. There was something about his character that made
you want to play hard. He had the ability to motivate us like no other coach could. It was obvious that he was passionate about the game and his players. Everyone on the team had a lot of respect for him and the faith he demonstrated in all of us. He wanted us to do well, and with him constantly nipping at our heels, our team did just that. During the three years he coached me, we had great basketball teams — the best teams I would ever play on. My years playing varsity didn’t go as well. Had he coached us there is no doubt we would have had better teams. My varsity coach couldn’t light a fire under us like Coach Dunn could. Coach Dunn was the epitome of a player’s coach. His players loved, feared, and respected him. When I think about Teacher’s Day, I can’t help but think of him. He encouraged everyone he met to go above their level, and all that hard work and effort paid off. Sports are a metaphor for life, and he taught me so much about hard work that, to this day, his teachings continue to influence my life. I am one of the lucky ones for having had Sammy Dunn as a coach and teacher.
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