Reading these closely may give you the inspiration you need

By Mark Clark

With the new year still very young, I want to share some inspirational quotes from athletes and coaches that may be just what our local athletes need to read as they prepare for the sports they play.

I will lead off with one that Central coach Carolyn Wright uses to inspire her team. “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” Many of you may remember Kevin Durant and Tim Tebow are both known for using this quote. But, it is not their quote. The quote belongs to Tim Notke. Who is Tim Notke? Well, people are not sure. He is identified as a high school coach of 65 years of age by some, but his school is not identified. Others say he is a composite of several people, invented by four friends. Whether he is a real person or a myth, he sure can say the right stuff to get kids inspired.

A second quote attributed to Notke says, “Work so hard that one day your signature will be considered an autograph.” The two quotes I picked for this list from him are quite inspiring for anyone. You do not have to be an athlete or coach to find the inspiration to succeed.

So, here are some other quotes you might find interesting and inspiring. Enjoy them. Learn them. Live them.

The first one is by far my favorite of this column. Here we go.

“There are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.” – Jim Valvano

I will not lie. When I read the quote, I think of the speech Valvano made in 1993 at Madison Square Gardens, the site of the first ESPY awards, when he was presented the inaugural Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award and my eyes water at the memory. Valvano took the stage and gave one of the most inspirational, if not the most inspirational, speech in sports history.

For those of you who do not know, or do not remember Valvano, he was the coach of the North Carolina State team that shocked the college basketball world in 1983 when his Wolfpack defeated Houston’s Phi Slama Jama Cougars to win the national championship. He inspired his team to win against all odds. Later, Valvano inspired the nation during his battle against cancer. He died at 47 years old, but his heart is still with us.

He ended his iconic speech with the following words: “I just got one last thing, I urge all of you, all of you, to enjoy your life, the precious moments you have. To spend each day with some laughter and some thought, to get your emotions going. To be enthusiastic every day and as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, ‘Nothing great could be accomplished without enthusiasm,’ to keep your dreams alive in spite of problems whatever you have. The ability to be able to work hard for your dreams to come true, to become a reality.”

Remember those words and the ones that follow . . .

“Many people say I’m the best women’s soccer player in the world. I don’t think so. And because of that, someday I just might be.” – Mia Hamm

“What do you do with a mistake: recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it.” – Dean Smith

“For me, winning isn’t something that happens suddenly on the field when the whistle blows and the crowds roar. Winning is something that builds physically and mentally every day that you train and every night that you dream.” – Emmitt Smith

“Football doesn’t build character, it reveals character.” – Marv Levy

“In the end, it’s extra effort that separates a winner from second place. But winning takes a lot more than that, too. It starts with complete command of the fundamentals. Then it takes desire, determination, discipline and self-sacrifice. And finally, it takes a great deal of love, fairness and respect for your fellow man. Put all these together, and even if you don’t win, how can you lose?”  – Jesse Owens

“It’s not the will to win that matters—everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“Gold medals aren’t really made of gold. They’re made of sweat, determination and a hard-to-find alloy called guts.” – Dan Gable

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

I hope at least that you found some inspiration in one of these quotes. I hope it will help you through your life. I have one that is really the last line of a poem by Berton Braley. The poem is titled, “The Prayer” that I have relied upon in my life even though it is not sports related. The last line is, “And so at last when the people scan my face on its peaceful bier, they’ll say, “Well, he was a Regular Man!” and drop a Regular tear.”  Look it up sometime. I think you will find it inspirational as well.

Mark Clark is a local sports writer for 

The Citizen of East Alabama.