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It's hard to say exactly why UCLA softball coach Kelly Inouye-Perez showed up Thursday afternoon. Her boss had sent an e-mail earlier in the week mentioning an event where UCLA was hosting a delegation of Ugandan basketball coaches who were studying and applying Wooden's principles. But it was a mention, not an ask. If she had time, only. Which she probably wouldn't since the opening of softball season is just a few weeks away.
But for some reason Inouye-Perez wanted to come. Had to come. The mention of something new to do with the late John Wooden drew her in reflexively. The chance to connect with a group of coaches who'd travelled around the world just to be in the place he once was, was too intriguing. And so she spent three hours she really didn't have on Thursday afternoon watching an old video of Wooden speaking to a sports psychology class at UCLA, somehow knowing it would be worth it.
"You know," Inouye-Perez said. "It just never gets old. Every time I get a chance to relive how simply he puts things, it's just really special. As a coach, any time you hear his words or his philosophies like that, you can't help but get excited to go to practice the next day."
It was probably the 20th speech Inouye-Perez had heard Wooden give. It could've been the 100th time she heard him talk about the tenets of his Pyramid of Success. But as she watched, she took notes on her iPad like it was the first she'd heard of any of it.
"I love when he says: 'Don't be so engrossed in making a living that you forget to make a life,' " she said, reading from her notes. "Or the part when he says, 'We are many, but are we much? Until we are together, we can't do much at all.'