Connie Mack. Vince Lombardi. Eddie Gottlieb. Carol Calvert.
An impressive list, no doubt. Now some would argue that each of these coaches has been surpassed in their field. Undoubtedly they are not all the top, yet they are somehow all seared into our conscious as the forerunners of greatness. They started domination in an event. This is the list on which Carol Calvert belongs.
I believe that the greatest accomplishment is to become a Hall of Fame coach. Because all a great quizzer needs to do is work hard. All a great director needs to do is show up. I am not discounting these accomplishments, but in both of these you control your own legacy. As a coach, you are relying on a number of fickle teenagers. And sustained excellence in doing this mandates someone who can encourage, cajole, energize, and just love a group of kids.
When I wrote an article a few years ago about the best coach ever, she had the easiest case to make. The knock was that she did not have sustained excellence. Matt West emailed me that she actually did place in the top 5 as late as the mid 90’s. So, she seems to be even greater than I first realized.
Human nature is that when fighting for a first title, you give everything you have to achieve it. You sacrifice everything. You spend sleepless nights imagining the opposition working just as hard. On the other hand, after you win a title, your motivation level wanes. Your desire to keep it up just is not as great. The laxity you have usually is countered with wisdom acquired. And winning AACS requires winning twice. You have to win at state, then again at nationals. That means two sets of teams are gunning for you.
Imagine with me reenergizing to repeat not once, but twice. Then imagine that it just isn’t typical reenergizing, but you are the first team to win ever. All of a sudden, the accomplishment becomes so great. I think at that point, you are starting to realize the greatness that Carol Calvert teams approached.
She “three-peated” and has rarely been equaled. But even if she is equaled she will always be seered into our consciousness as the first great coach. She was the first to abundantly shine the light. She’s on the list.