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Coaching Greats JoePa and Coach K Share Lessons

Two coaching legends, who had never met before Monday morning, shared the stage at Eisenhower Auditorium Monday afternoon as Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski sat down with ESPN’s Rece Davis to discuss how they obtained the success they have generated for decades at each of their respective institutions.

With 1,301 wins and six national championships between the two Hall of Famers, JoePa and Coach K had plenty of life lessons to share with the audience; however, the lessons were about the type of winning you that doesn’t get you a trophy. Paterno and Krzyzewski spoke about teaching, leadership, and family, and how they all led to on-court success.

Paterno started out by defining teaching as the conviction you have as a person to study each kid that you come into contact with and not blanketing them as a group. Krzyzewski echoed those sentiments, adding that Joe “changed how he taught without ever compromising the value of what he taught.”

Coach K admitted that he has seen better leaders than himself. He coached one of them in Shane Battier, who led Duke to a national championship in 2001, his senior season. Krzyzewski said that he usually gave the team words of encouragement at the end of every practice but, during that season, he was not able to speak or lead that team better than Battier could.

“There is not one way to lead, but you have to find your own way to lead,” Krzyzewski said.

And neither coach could deny the role that family has played in their pursuit of sustaining excellence. Many Penn State fans know of Sue Paterno’s presence in Joe’s life. Krzyzewski told the audience that his family (and any family) is invited to every practice and film session as long as they use good judgement. His wife and daughters all work closely with the team and have become close with the players themselves.

The mood was not all serious, though, as the two legends joked around — Paterno persuaded Coach K that he can dance with the best of them while Krzyzewski claimed Paterno needs a larger statue outside of Beaver Stadium.

Difference Makers: Life Lessons with Paterno and Krzyzewski with talks from the two coaches along with interviews with former pupils of the legends will air on ESPN at 8:00 p.m. on June 30 with a second segment on ESPNU following at 9:00 p.m.

About the Author

Dan Vecellio

Dan is a graduate student in meteorology, hailing from Bradford, Pennsylvania. His interests include sports, Penn State and commons cheesesteaks. Feel free to contact me through my email or follow me on Twitter.

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