The job of a college basketball coach, especially at a tradition-rich program, can be a busy one. Of course there’s the matter of coaching your current team, but there’s also the need to recruit the next class of athletes while also helping with community service and fundraising activities.
Many also look to help those in need of a positive message to help them get through tough times, which is what Bill Self did for the family of a sportswriter who covers the team. In a story written by David Dorsey of the Fort Myers (Florida) News-Press, the author discusses the lengths Self went to give Dorsey’s father a morale boost while his wife Nancy was battling Stage IV triple negative breast cancer.
“Hey Gene. This is Bill Self here. Sorry I haven’t called sooner. I’ve been out of town on business, and I just got back, and I’m catching up. I heard you guys are going through some stuff. I don’t know exactly what’s going on, but I wanted to check in with you to see how you’re doing. Give me a call when you can.”
My dad called the number Self left on the voice mail.
Expecting to get an administrative assistant, instead my father heard: “This is Bill Self.” He had left a direct line.
My father and Coach Self talked for a few minutes. Self gave my dad a much-needed pep talk. My father did an extraordinary job of caring for my mother during her final 60 days and throughout their 45 years of marriage. It’s hard work, caring for the dying. He had help from Grace Hospice and my Aunt Barb Liberman. My father did an amazing job. It was on par with the coaching job Self managed in 2008, when Mario Chalmers made that epic, game-tying shot, sending the NCAA title game against Memphis into overtime, which ended up being a formality.
Self was also able to speak with Nancy over the phone, with the conversations taking place August 3. Sadly, Nancy would pass away the following night.