Hundreds huddle to hear Coach Lou Holtz talk success
By John Tucker
Legendary football coach Lou Holtz played linebacker for two seasons at Kent State in the 1950s, but you wouldn’t know it to look at him. College linebackers today typically stand 6 feet 2 inches and weigh at least 220 pounds.
Lou once described his body this way: “I stand 5 feet 10, weigh 152 pounds, wear glasses, speak with a lisp, and have a physique that appears like I’ve been afflicted with beriberi or scurvy most of my life.”
But when the lean, 81-year-old led football teams, worked in an ESPN broadcast booth or, as he does today, gives motivational speeches, he cuts a towering figure.
His larger-than-life persona was in full bloom on Feb. 13 as he delivered a pep talk—seasoned with humor, colorful stories and homespun wisdom—to almost 800 guests at Palm Ridge Center in Sun City West.
Sun Health sponsored the free talk in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center, a hospital founded by Sun Health in 1988 and for which it continues to be the fundraising arm. Community support helped build the hospital and continues to keep it going strong.
In his speech, titled “A Game Plan for Success,” Lou touched on how teamwork, whether it’s on the gridiron, in the boardroom or in a community, is crucial for success.
Lou knows a few things about teamwork. He led six college football teams to bowl games within two years of joining each program. To date, he is the only coach to ever guide four different programs to final top 20 rankings.
“If you want to fail, you have a right to fail,” Lou said. “But you don’t have the right to cause other people to fail. Anytime you’re part of the team, part of a family, part of an organization, you have an obligation to other people. And you must honor that commitment to other people.”
Lou added, “Commitment to your fellow human beings is what makes health care such a high calling, but you don’t have to be a doctor, nurse or another health professional to make a difference. You can volunteer, you can donate to a health care cause; you can look after the health of a loved one. All of us play a role and great things happen when we perform that role to the best of our ability.”
He credited Sun Health, Banner Health and the community “for the great health care you have here in this area.”
Since Sun Health became the exclusive fundraising partner for Banner Health’s Boswell Medical Center and Del E. Webb Medical Center in 2008, Sun Health Foundation donors have provided approximately $78 million to support capital and program improvements at these local medical centers.
Lou also shared his thoughts on aging. He joked that the average age of people in Florida, where he lives, is “deceased,” and that he’s so old he doesn’t buy green bananas anymore.
On a more serious note, he spoke of the need for all human beings, no matter their age, to have dreams and to have a plan for how to achieve them.
“In this world, you’re either growing or you’re dying. Dreams are what keep us going and growing.”
Lou closed with his three rules.
Do the right thing. Do the best you can. And, always show you care.
“From what I know of Sun Health, their employees, donors and volunteers all follow those same rules. They do the right thing, they do their very best, and they always show people they care,” Lou said.