Legendary Manti High School basketball coach dies

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OGDEN -- A longtime and well-known Utah high school basketball coach died Monday night. Wilbur Braithwaite coached for more than 35 years at Manti High School, but he may be best remembered for inspiring his students and athletes long after they graduated.

"Lessons learned from a lifetime of coaching"
by Wilbur Braithwaite
1. Questionable, unsportsmanlike tactics employed to influence the odds of winning are never worth the price paid in loss of self-respect.

2. Degrading remarks or actions aimed at spurring players on to greater effort may bring temporary success but results in long-range failure.

3. Anger is a poor substitute for reason.

4. Your players tend to become what they believe you think they are.

5. Teenagers, by nature, are idealistic.

6. Attitudes such as jealousy and discontent among players are often nurtured by well-meaning adults whose eyes are set only upon the glamorous aspects of winning.

7. Patience and love are the most powerful tools in coaching.

8. Today's heartbreaks turn into tomorrow's strengths.

9. Gracefully accept unfortunate events beyond your control.

10. Work hard to influence the outcome of important things within your control.

11. Never "second-guess" yourself on decisions made with integrity, intelligence and with a glance from the heart.

12. The most essential thing in coaching, and a coach's great challenge, is to teach players to never give up.

"If you play your best and give it everything you have, then you're a winner," Braithwaite has said.

For 37 years Wilbur Braithwaite walked the sidelines as the head basketball coach at Manti High School. He finished with more than 500 wins -- but to ask him, he didn't care about winning, as long as his players did their best.

"It's OK to lose, if you play to win," Braithwaite said. "I think it's very necessary to go out to play to win and try to score and do your very best. After the game is over, it makes no difference ethically whether you won or lost. Your value as a person is in no way influenced."

After the game is over, it makes no difference ethically whether you won or lost. Your value as a person is in no way influenced.

–Wilbur Braithwaite

Braithwaite believed that teaching the fundamentals of life was more important than teaching the fundamentals of sport.

"You cannot play a game without making a mistake, and to try to seek perfection is just not going to work," he said.

After his retirement in 1988, "Coach" -- as he was known -- had an extraordinary influence on his former athletes and students.

He cultivated a personal relationship with everyone he met and was a mentor to several generations in his community through visits, phone calls and letters, always teaching them to never give up.

Braithwaite was recognized nationally numerous times for coaching and sharing his philosophy of athletics.

But it was one moment, as the only local Olympic torchbearer in his hometown, when he really shined, celebrating sport in its purest form.

Did you know ... ?
Wilbur Braithwaite had a 37-year career as the head coach at Mani High School, with 534 wins and 267 losses and not one technical foul!

"I always told high school kids, I said, ‘You don't want me as your coach. The best coach in the world is you, because you know what's going on out there. Become knowledgeable, read about the game, study the game,'" he said.

Braithwaite often put his feelings into words, writing poetry using sports as an analogy on how to succeed in life.

He's created a legacy that will live on far into the future.

"In the game of life you haven't lost, and you haven't won," Braithwaite said. "You're just behind or you're just ahead, you're sliding back or you're climbing up, a winner fights till this life is done."

E-mail: spenrod@ksl.com


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