This I Believe

Jeffrey - Sandy, Utah
Entered on December 20, 2007

I believe in the power of “WE.”

I was first introduced to WE as a basketball at Judge Memorial Catholic High School, in Salt Lake City. Our varsity basketball coach of 42 years, Jim Yerkovich, came up with this simple motto to summarize our program’s philosophy for playing and living. It permeates every aspect of our school community and has influenced countless lives.

To play “WE” is beautiful. We tell our freshmen that, on defense, we’re like a fist – strongest when we have five together as one. We play excellent man-to-man team defense, emphasizing team help. To give up our body and take a charge, helping a teammate, is the most WE play we can make.

Of course, more people notice “WE” plays on the offensive end. But we try to emphasize the little things the casual fan may not notice – solid screens, good spacing, the extra pass – precisely because these little things go unnoticed, and are therefore the embodiment of “WE.”

But living “WE” is an even more beautiful, albeit harder, thing.

What is living “WE”?

It’s putting others before yourself, caring about someone else’s happiness more than your own, and it’s something that’s not natural. We’re hardwired to be selfish – it’s a survival instinct that’s been passed down through our DNA since the beginning of time. But, paradoxically, it’s not the way to true happiness.

I know that when I get home at night, tired from a full day of teaching English followed by a two hour practice, that if my focus is on myself and my needs, I’m probably not going to be very happy. The dogs who need food and water are going to be an annoyance rather than an opportunity. My two little boys wanting to wrestle are going to be exhausting rather than exhilarating. And my little six-month old daughter, who wants nothing more from me than a look, a hug, a word, a smile, will be an impediment to my wife’s ability to take care of my needs.

But those days I come in and look at the overboard above our door, the one that says “WE” in red and gold, those are days I remember that love is a choice and that I can choose to live WE. Those are days when magic happens.

I remember that caring for three kids all day is a full time job, and I do something for my wife, something simple like cooking some peas for dinner. I remember my sons have waited all day to see me, and so I look at them and listen intently as they tell me all about their day’s adventures. I take my little daughter in my arms and hold her, and see in her beautiful face the embodiment of the WE my wife and I share.

I realize my family – little Sarah, Jake and John, my wife and I – are happiest when we’re like a fist: five together as one. These are the days I John Wooden’s genuius hits home: True happiness comes from making someone else happy.