Doc Scheppler | Pinewood High School Commencement 2019

Our high school graduation speaker needs no introduction. Over his forty-year coaching career, Doc Scheppler has won over 500 games and six Division V state titles as the girls varsity basketball team's head coach at Pinewood. In 2014, he was voted the Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year.

It is such an honor and highlight for me to speak at the 2019 Graduation! I have to admit I’m a little nervous… (First time) No, I’ve been nervous lots of times… but not like this… I have learned to love graduation day because it’s a time to acknowledge those people in your life that we hold deep in our heart. A day to honor our 2019 graduates, their parents, grandparents, teachers, and administration. It is a glorious day to laugh, think, and cry!

As today's speaker, I have experienced (and endured, in some cases) 24 Pinewood high school graduation speeches. Some of the kingly speeches flew over the top of my head which doesn’t take much (Vasanth and Niki). So, in honor of those who went on and on, I have decided to incorporate a basketball theme to these festivities. Hey, we’re in the gym! Knowing that a full high school basketball game is 32 minutes… that’s how long I’m going to talk to you for…So buckle up… OK, I lied… We’re putting ten minutes on the clock, however… And I emphasize however because I like big HOWEVERS and I cannot lie. I get five timeouts for a Doc Story, a time to yawn and sit around the campfire and bring out the marshmallows to roast! I mean what are the chances I keep it to ten minutes? Like one in a hundred? (more like one in a million).  Soooo you’re tellin' me there’s a chance!

I knew when I was 14 years old, I wanted to extend my love of sports by becoming a teacher. I am the poster child for "do what you love and love what you do!” I was positively influenced by some great teachers/coaches whom I revered and wanted to emulate. They gave me direction, inspiration, and motivation to follow them into a vocation that has given me a wealth of great relationships and memories that will last with me forever.

People often ask me what’s the difference between coaching in 1977 and 2019. There are many…. back then I could call a Saturday practice after a Friday night game and every player would drop their plans and be there… nowadays pfffftt. A coach has to navigate their way through SAT prep class, sporting event invitation, a haircut, a ski trip, a tutoring appointment, a college counselor meeting, community service, a birthday party... It’s a totally different time! The main difference that I see is a distinct change in the perception of the role of the coach. Back then, the coaching profession was a more noble endeavor where the coach was viewed as an authority figure and an integral part of the athlete’s character development working in synchronicity with parents. In today’s world, sometimes coaches are perceived as athletic club employees who are only there to cater to their needs and make them happy. Coaching is not supposed to be a customer service endeavor! Sports are intended to be one of many vehicles to learn and nurture positive character traits.
When you seniors walk across this stage and receive your diplomas it will signify an end to a 13-year odyssey and the beginning of another perhaps more scary one. A journey where your success will rest primarily on your shoulders. My goal with you today is that I hope (and hope is a good thing may be the best of things) you can leave here today with a basketball team of 5 nuggets in your memory bank. These nuggets aren’t anything you haven’t heard before, however, perhaps they are delivered in a different fashion that will hit home. I’m hoping so, because after today, quoting the great reverend from that Academy Award-winning movie Blazing Saddles… “Son you’re on your own!!!!!”

My first nugget is: always be a great teammate. Selfless or Selfish! What is the ultimate compliment you can give an athlete? It is that they are a great teammate! Pat Riley said, “Teamwork is the essence of life.” Are people happy when you walk into the room, or are they happier when you leave? Think about how you got here and who got you here! After the ceremony, I’m counting on you to make sure you acknowledge those in your life that helped you get here and tell them "THANK YOU! " How’d I get here? Like you, I was surrounded by great teammates. My parents, my teachers and coaches, my friends, and as I got older, my wife, my children, grandchildren, teaching peers, administration, coaching mentors, assistant coaches, and every player I’ve coached for 42 years. What are the qualities of a great teammate or someone who was a great teammate? I guarantee you they were respectful, reliable, compassionate, honest, trustworthy, humble, and grateful. These strengths are ingredients in a healthy person’s life. Teamwork, in any endeavor, is a very easy concept to understand: getting a group of people to work together to achieve a common goal. However, successful teamwork can be a difficult, challenging experience. But when everyone on that team invests in the greater good, great things happen! Your whole life, you’ll always be on a team of some sort. Be a joy to play with! Understand that life is a team sport!  
The second nugget is: be a lifelong learner. A sponge, not a rock! You need to have a thirst to pursue greatness and continually evolve in every aspect of your life. Be an open and willing listener. Find a mentor you trust. Sometimes it’s not the message but the messenger to show you the way.  My favorite movie line from The Natural is Glenn Close telling Robert Redford that “we all have two lives, the life we learn with and the life we live with after that." Display a ferocious and pragmatic work ethic geared toward continual improvement. I was always driven by the saying “when you’re through improving you’re through.” You never know who and what avenues where you can better yourself. If you’re not learning and continually improving, someone’s going to overtake you.

My third nugget is: be a hard worker. An ant or a slug? It is such an admirable human quality to be a hard worker. It might not be cool, but as you get older, you’ll learn that “you’re not running for most popular you’re running for most respected.” Some people go through life gathering sympathy and some people go through life getting respect. Hard-working people earn people’s respect. The joy of working hard to accomplish a goal is tremendously fulfilling. Steve Nash said, “You’ll never be more alive than when you give something everything you have.” Hard work is fun because getting better is fun. Things that are difficult to do are going to eventually define you as who you are. The difference between who you are and who you want to be is that work you put in. Create your own path with hard work.

The 4th nugget is: be resilient. Tough as Nails. Resilience defined is the capacity to recover from difficulties or setbacks and continue to work effectively at the task at hand. One of the reasons I love basketball is because it’s an "every play sport" where your ability to handle failure requires an immediate response. The game doesn’t wait for you to bounce back. It doesn’t wait for you to leave the pity party. It doesn’t care if you look cool. The game goes on. Embrace your failures, embrace the adversity. Even when we all strive for success, in your life, you will undoubtedly experience some failures, and you have two choices: you can wallow in self-pity or you can refocus your mindset and dive into the next opportunity. Regardless of whether you win or lose, the goal is always to get better.

My last nugget is: belief. To achieve what you want in your life you have to nurture a belief in your ability. I love the term "boldly humble," where you find the optimum healthy balance between an out-of-control ego and your humility. Confidence and belief come from trusting the work you put in and doing everything right. Develop that belief in who you are so that words, actions, or behavior from others cannot deter your will to succeed.
Does anyone know the most important line in the Wizard of OZ? Tinman got his heart, Scarecrow got his brain, the Lion got his courage. Dorothy got nothing and she liked it! But as the Good Witch said to her, ”You’ve always had the power, my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself." She didn’t need the wizard. The power to succeed is within you.

You will develop that belief and that power IF you are a great teammate (selfless not selfish), a great learner (sponge not a rock), a hard worker (an ant not a slug) and you are resilient (tough as nails).

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