I joined up with Lou at Kennedy High School as his defensive coordinator and earned a salary of $8,000 a year to teach English, Grammar, Social Studies and help him coach football, wrestling and track.
It was job and I felt I could learn a lot from Lou but had no idea how deep the learning process would become. Lou wasn't a great football player himself, but that didn't matter. He saw the game as a way to teach highly motivated kids. We had a great 2-3 year run together with a brand new school and won lots of games. Along the way I became a walking proponent of positive thinking. My cup became half full all the time. My glasses took on a rose colored tint. I began to set goals and refused to allow negativity to control how I thought, acted, or was perceived.
Lou started the Pacific Institute with his wife, Diane, in our last season together. The company just celebrated their 40th anniversary and has expanded to a worldwide educational institution serving 62 countries and has been translated into 21 languages. Along the way Lou personally worked with many of the finest northwest coaches in all sports.
There are literally hundreds to thousands of coaches who have benefited from his simple formula for self and group development. Many of those are in the Pacific Northwest, where he founded the Institute and still maintained his home. Coaches like Pete Carroll, Jim Lambright and Steve Sarkisian are his students you've heard of, but if you were a coach from the state of Washington, you either heard of Lou Tice or you knew Lou Tice.
One time, coach Lambright did a team building experience for all his coaches at Lou's ranch in Twisp to start our season. It was electrifying and I will always be deep friends with all the men who were there. The irony is it didn't stop us from getting fired at the end of that year, but each of us grew as men and as friends. Regardless, even though we had gotten to a bowl game we got our pink slips, but the Tice trip helped us to move on with our lives.
I would have to admit that Lou blew my mind a number of times when we coached together. One time he had the team goal set to score the first play of the game and beat our last opponent of the season by a score of 49-0. The kids asked what to do if we returned the kickoff for a touchdown and Lou told them to run out of bounds on the one because he wanted some offensive lineman to carry the ball in.
That's exactly what happened and, by the way the final score was 49-0.
Another time, Lou took the whole team into the wrestling room and had them all lay down and visualize the upcoming game. He painted the picture of our bread and butter play - the Power at 6 - and went over and over everyone's assignment. We were going to run that play the first play of the game and we were going to score. Of course it helped that the opposing team always lined up in the same defense for every snap but regardless - I was in the press box and could see every single kid do exactly what he was supposed to do. We scored.
Lou forced you to think outside the box. He encouraged you to shoot for the moon. He refused to set limitations on himself or others. He mentored many coaches and players to achieve what "they" wanted to achieve.
Coach Sarkisian posted that Lou Tice was a "great mentor and friend" and that is exactly what he was to me and so many of us who had the privilege of working with him. He was more than a motivational speaker; he was an icon in the area of mental and emotional wellness. He inspired, challenged and convinced everyone who would listen that the only real authority over happiness was you.
He hired many great Huskies to help him spread his positive message. Ron Medved, Nesby Glasgow, Antoine Richardson, Leif Johnson, and Ronnie Rowland, to name a few, all carried his system to places like USC, Alabama, and the University of Washington, where there was always an increase in graduation rates and a decrease in off-the-field problems.
It wasn't just about winning and losing; it was really about life and how we perceive things, especially ourselves. Not everyone bought in, but those of us who did were rewarded by the fulfillment of a lifetime of goals attained and personal accomplishments. This man made a positive impact on my life and many others both in and out of the sports arena.
I never approached a game thinking we weren't going to win. Even when the Huskies were struggling I still felt they could find a way to win. Of course it didn't always happen, but Lou taught you how to move on - how to process it and come back with the resolve to win the next one.
I remember when a defensive lineman at Kennedy named Jim Young, who was 155 pounds, set a goal to take the first handoff from the other team who were running the split back veer offense. He visualized them trying to run the veer dive right at him and he was going to juke the offensive tackle and be in the backfield so that when the quarterback got to the mesh point with the dive back he would be there to take the handoff going the other way. It happened, but Young got caught at the 2-yard line so he didn't score.
"Why didn't you goal set to steal it and score?" was Lou's first question to Young when he reached the sideline.
Lou Tice was a legendary coach in the state of Washington. He was an internationally known speaker and left his mark on the lives of many people. He didn't just change people, he empowered people. He was a man of vision and hope. He helped many Huskies along the way even though he never went to Washington. He didn't have to, because he was always from Washington.
Coach Tice Left His Mark on UW Football
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