THE COACH

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

 

Born 3/18/1929, traveled to the Superbowl in heaven on 4/27/2013.

Every once in a while when I’m chopping wood I miss a piece by an inch or two. It’s usually a relatively small piece and I hear myself screaming “Don’t give up on it!” and it’s the Coach telling me to never give up.  With one minute left in a game, whether we were ahead by 20 points or behind by 30 points, he would tell us “Always give one hundred percent all the time and when you don’t, that’s the time you’re going to get hurt. Not only physically, but mentally. The bottom line is, failure’s not an option; never give up and always give one hundred percent.” and the words absolutely, totally ring true. On Sunday morning, I gave a workshop at Grand Central Station and traveled across town to Bryant Park and Times Square. When I got the students together I told them “I’ve got bad news for you. I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to teach this class, and I was a millimeter away from just packing up and leaving.” (I had gotten there 2 hours prior). Then a voice came to me; it was the Coach and he told me “Big Joe, complete your responsibility and teach this class.” I told the students that because of what he taught me, it was going to be the best class I would teach all year. I think that it was. Thanks, Coach; you’re still motivating me and you will continue to motivate me until I join you.

Joe D

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

Coach

Coach Weitz and Coach DiRico

Coach Marvin Weitz and Coach Val DiRico

Today is Tuesday April 30, 2013. In a small private graveside one of the most influential and powerful people God put on this earth will be placed 6 feet underground his name was Marv Weitz.

I would imagine on today’s date there are potentially tens, of thousands of people, who meet the same fate. This person was quite a bit different as he was one of the strongest most dedicated, ingenious educators on the planet. He was able to motivate thousands of average students to believe in themselves and believe that they could succeed in life. He was a great English teacher who happened to be an extremely talented football coach. He became head coach in my junior year at high school the previous year we had an abominable season. I believe it was two wins and six losses. but don’t quote me on that. He took his warm smile, calm demeanor and laid back attitude from the English class and would walk the three hundred yards to the football field and turn into a exceptional motivator. He had the ability of taking a below average or average football player and turn them into a powerhouse. He instilled the combination of  – you can do it,  you won’t fail, you will win. At the end of the day, you believed it. In believing it, it made you a more complete person that went far from any football field. Yes, it was a simpler time then.  At the end of his classes and football practice he would drive several of the players home in the opposite direction of his home, occasionally stopping for a cup of coffee and some positive words to your mother or father on how well their son was doing. Someone once asked me whether I had any heroes. I believe I answered my father, Coach Marvin Weitz and John Fitzgerald Kennedy. We remained close friends and  in many ways he was my Consilieri. He was there for my wedding, my children being born, the passing of my parents, my brother and my son Joe. Even though we were three hundred and fifty miles apart (round trip) I would go to visit him at least two to three times a year and spoke to him at least once or twice a month. I needed his confidence, motivation and beliefs. In his later years, and even today, he’s affected tens of thousands of young people. I call it the coach multiplication theory.  For every young man he coached, it wasn’t just one person, but they had maybe 2-3 children and then they in turn had children and they all inherited his spirit, drive and motivation. When I told him that he would smile with a little bit of disbelief but I know in my heart, he genuinely knew what I was saying. I know I will continue to go to him for motivation. Losing and failing has never been an option.  Honorable success is the only thing. It’s not just winning but how you play the game and how you treat your fellow combatants.  It’s a little known fact Coach was a great baseball player and football player. One day I found out he was a great boxer and I found out he sparred with the likes of the “Raging Bull” Jake LaMotta.

I will leave you with this –  one day every football game was cancelled in New York due to a hurricane. Coach called the head coach of the number one team – East Hampton and as the story goes, the East Hampton Coach demeaned him and our team, by saying it wouldn’t make any difference if we came in any weather condition, that they’d still kick the crap out of us.  The Coach simply said we’ll be there at 2PM.  It was the only game played on Long Island that day in the middle of a hurricane! The score was tied with two minutes left, we had East Hampton backed up to their five yard line. Our quarter back Artie Pollaci fumbled the snap from center and the ball popped out, I recovered the fumble, and Artie Milleisen scored.  It was the first winning season in the history of our school.  The head coach of East Hampton went home to a Victory Party and from what I heard proceeded to knock the food & drink to the floor. Winning isn’t everything but losing is unacceptable. There’s yet another story to be told about Coach DiRico, who also was a great motivator and leader who played shoulder to shoulder with the great Vince Lombardi. That story to be told another time.  Today is Coach Marvin Weitz’s Day.  Thanks Coach & thank you teammates.

On a photographic note I am ashamed to say that I’ve been unable to locate the negatives that I made photographing my Coach in the day.  The morale of the story is keep better records and files because you may be sorry some day.

Old Friends, New Year, Life Itself

©Joe DiMaggio

©Joe DiMaggio

Hi to all the ships at sea,

I would like to wish everybody a healthy happy, new year (hey idiot, it’s the 15th-where have you been?!) Sorry guys, the last 45 days have been brutal, and I’m not going to go there today. I decided to take Saturday off, and I went to visit my former English professor/football coach, who has just been admitted to the Stoney Brook VA Nursing Home. It was the best 60 seconds and the worst 19.5 minutes I’ve ever spent in my life. I’ve loved this man for 50 plus years, and I’ve resolved myself to the fact that will be the last time I get to see him. I drove 7 miles to see one of my former assistants, he showed my three photographs that blew my head off. They were just gorgeous. He explained how he did them,why he did them, not that he had to; the photographs did not require any information, they moved me from a very negative place to a very good place. 15 miles west and an hour later, I went to see my oldest friend Pat Nap and he looked great! In the day he was a great football player and a world-class amateur wrestler, and ya know what, he still looks great today. OK-this moves us another hour and a half down the road and I stopped by to see my spiritual advisor, Jess Weiss. We had three or four emails in the last week, and three or four phone calls. His lovely bride of 38 years passed away four weeks ago. I went to see him because he’s my hero. The first time I walked into his office, above his desk was the silver star and ten other medals. I told him he was a true hero. He explained to me that he was a coward. He felt guilty that he left Omaha Beach alive during the D-day invasion and thousands of his brothers did not. Jess has written five books, I strongly recommend reading one of them or more…he’s not only a true hero, but he’s a visionary. He is one of the most spiritual people I have ever met. His 97th birthday is in two weeks and looking into his eyes, I saw a 20 year old man. Thank God for Jess. My life partner JoAnne Kalish reminds me that I’m a photographer and filmmaker and that my blogs should be about photography and filmmaking. This blog IS about communication and respect and history. That’s what photography is. I remember someone telling me, life is hills and valleys. In twelve hours I went from the highest mountain to the lowest peak and back to the highest mountain, so I guess that person was right. LIFE IS PRECIOUS. Please spend every second you can enjoying what you have.

Healthy, happy new year
Joe D

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