As the coach of one of high school basketball’s greatest programs, Coach Dru Joyce has been mentor and motivator to some of the nation’s best young players, including basketball legend LeBron James. Despite having virtually no experience in the sport, in less than ten years Dru went from a no-name fan to one of the highest profile basketball coaches in the country. With insight and grit earned from his years on and off the court, Coach Dru shares for the first time the secrets to his teams’ success and his own coaching achievements.
Upon seeing the title and subject of this book, Beyond Championships, you might ask two questions: (1) “Who is Dru Joyce, II?” and (2) “I’m not interested in basketball – why would his book interest me?” I will answer these questions before moving on to the book review itself. (1) Coach Dru was LeBron James’ high school coach, and the father figure LeBron credits with having taught him about life. (2) This book reads as part memoir, part a book about faith and part an instruction manual on how to live life. The story of a life-long salesman and family man that would become one of America’s highest profile and successful basketball coaches and mentor to hundreds – including one of the greatest players of all time – LeBron James.
Coach Dru takes the reader on a journey of his life in East Liverpool, OH, beginning with his college years, and next moving his family to Akron, Ohio for a corporate career at ConAgra Foods. After some job problems, he quit and started an AAU basketball league which in the first year had 50 teams. This success led to the offer of a coaching job with the winning team at St. Vincent – St. Mary. At the start, things at St. Vincent – St. Mary weren’t working out well for Coach Dru and in fact, his team lost the state championship. Of course both the team and Coach Dru were devastated. Instead of wallowing in the loss, Coach Dru began to analyze what went wrong. He didn’t give up or blame others, but instead, he started using his analysis to build his team.
Beyond Championships is far more than a book about sports – it is a blueprint for anyone looking to make better choices, reach their full potential, and become winners in all areas of life. As Dru outlines the nine principles that he promotes to his players and tries to live in his own life as well, you’ll discover that the solid foundation on which he built so many successful basketball programs can be applied to almost any situation.
As you assess your chosen path in life and look for ways to embark on a more inspiring and rewarding journey, Coach Dru offers you an accessible and relatable roadmap for personal evolution. This book contains personal stories about beating the odds showing how it is possible to be a success without sacrificing one’s faith and family. The book is definitely a great book to read and learn from, regardless of your level of basketball knowledge or passion.
One of the hardest concepts for people both young and old to grasp is that decisions create environment. Too many believe they are destined to be a product of their environment, rather than the producer of their environment. Coach Dru shares the strategies he uses to help people recognize they possess the power to shape not only their own futures, but also their current realities, no matter what their perceived challenges. Beyond Championships will motivate people to do better, but it will not sugar-coat the reality that every decision counts, even ones made out of youthful naiveté or immaturity.
In American culture, the archetype of the “self-made man” is widely celebrated. Yet while the hard work and determination of those who have overcome hardships and discrimination should be lauded, the idea that people succeed by pulling themselves up by their bootstraps is essentially a myth. The truth, as Coach Dru has both witnessed and experienced first hand, is that it takes a great deal of support, mentorship and role modeling to overcome difficult circumstances. Unfortunately, too many people believe that “real men” and “real women” always “go it alone” and as a result, they never receive the mentorship and guidance they so desperately need.
It’s discipline, not desire, that determines your destiny. Throughout his coaching career, Coach Dru used this principle to help others understand that while it’s great to have desire, desire alone isn’t enough. It is discipline that is the missing ingredient in the lives of most – the discipline to stay committed to the task, no matter what life throws your way. Discipline is the work, the laser-pointed focus which brings our desires into reality and determines our destiny.
One of my favorite parts of this book (and there were many), was the foreword from LeBron James: “He knew what it meant to be poor, a feeling I was already too familiar with as a ten-year-old. He knew how to transcend his circumstances, and he wanted to share that knowledge with us too…There are a lot of principles in this book that have become cornerstones of my own philosophy on life. But the principle that has probably impacted me the most is to always have the heart of a servant. That’s something I learned from Coach Dru, and in many ways it was at the heart of my decision to return to Northeast Ohio as a basketball player.”
I bet you can’t wait to read this book! Guess what? One of my lucky readers will get both the hardcover release of this book AND the paperback teen version. Just scroll down after the video where you’ll be able to enter the giveaway!
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I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.