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A Tosa State of Mind

Alderman Dennis McBride represents Wauwatosa's 4th District. An attorney and graduate of Wauwatosa East High School, Ald. McBride strives to be an effective, thoughtful, and nonpartisan representative for his constituents and for his hometown.

We'll miss you, Coach

Heaven’s bells are ringing out ahoya.  Wauwatosa has lost one of its great souls.

On December 6, former Marquette University men’s basketball coach Hank Raymonds died at age 86.  I will remember him as a friend, a great coach, a quiet advocate for equality, and a terrific role model.  Although he didn’t have a direct impact on Wauwatosa, where he lived for more than 40 years, his impact on the greater Milwaukee community was considerable.

 

I’m not an MU guy.  I graduated from UWM, and always cheer for UW and UWM over MU.  But I loved Coach Raymonds as much as everyone else in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the basketball world did.  I got to know him when I played basketball with his sons during and after our days at St. Bernard’s grade school.  I wasn’t much of a basketball player, but unlike many coaches, he always treated you with kindness and respect whether you had athletic ability or not.  

 

Coach’s record as a head coach was 237-97, including 126-50 at MU.  He took his MU teams to post-season tournaments every year, back when that really meant something.  Still, as the guy who took over for Al McGuire the year after Al’s last team won the national title, Coach never could satisfy the boo-birds.  When he gracefully stepped aside to become MU’s athletic director, he supported his successor, Rick Majerus, without reservation.

 

From all that has been written about him, it seems that Coach’s African-American players loved him even more than his white players did, if that’s possible.  That’s because Coach loved everyone the same, caring more about the content of their character than the color of their skin or their ability to dribble a basketball.  He carried that over into his unflagging support for MU’s women’s teams.  Just as he attended the men’s basketball games, he attended all of the women’s basketball games at the Al McGuire Center, letting the women know by his presence that their version of basketball is as worthy as the men’s game.

 

Coach Raymonds was a consummate gentleman.  After retiring, he always supported MU wholeheartedly, never second-guessing the school’s nickname change or the decisions made by his successors.  He knew that times change and that others need their space.  Former MU coach Tom Crean didn’t have the self-confidence to embrace the MU basketball tradition, but current coach Buzz Williams wisely made Coach Raymonds the living symbol of the team’s legacy.  

 

Most of all, Coach Raymonds was a role model:  a man of great accomplishment who was ever humble; a gifted athlete who cared more about bringing out the skills in others; a tough guy who spoke softly; a great coach who cared most about his athletes succeeding in life; and a competitor who was always quick with a kind word.  If more leaders were like him, our country wouldn’t be as nasty and divided as it is now.     

 

In recent years, during my runs on Honey Creek Parkway, I often saw Coach Raymonds on his power walks.  I marveled at his energy and dedication, and renewed my vow to keep on exercising every day until I go to the great running trail in the sky.  Someday I expect to see Coach there, still giving me a friendly wave and a shout of encouragement.

 

We’ll miss you, Coach.  Please put in a kind word for us up there.  Your word was always as good as (blue and) gold.

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