Jim Valvano, White Guys and Diversity

I am a girl’s girl. There is no doubt about it. I am 100% hoes before bros. But I have fallen into a relationship with five men who are the brothers I never wanted.

Yeah, I know. It’s complicated.

I hang out with a great group of guys who talk sports and HR — two things I absolutely hate. And they treat me with so much sexless, unemotional disdain that I wonder: Are these guys my soulmates?

And sometimes I find myself in a Waffle House with one of these dudes (because none of them are big drinkers and they like to eat bacon) and we talk about sports. Apparently, I live in a historic part of the country. College basketball is a big deal. And people around here still talk about the 1983 NC State Wolfpack team.

When I asked one of those guys about Jim Valvano, the former Wolfpack coach, I was told that Jimmy V wasn’t a typical guy. He was emotional, optimistic and loving. He liked to have fun.

“He told his players he loved them. He meant it.”

I was sorta shocked. I see Mike Krzyzewski on TV all of the time. Isn’t college basketball all about looking cranky?

So I watched the SURVIVE AND ADVANCE and learned a little more about my hometown team. They had an amazing run up to the NCAA championship. It was truly impressive. But the story gets a little sad. Several years later, Jim Valvano came down with cancer. He fought it hard. Eight weeks before he died, he gave a famous speech.

He said, “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.”

If you watch this speech, you might be moved to tears.

Working in Human Resources, I always hung out with frumpy ladies and never really hung out with dudes who talked about sports. But at this point in my life, I am glad to know a group of white guys who can teach me things about leadership, teamwork and friendship. And through this weird friendship, I learned about my adopted hometown and my local history.

To me, that’s priceless.

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Laurie Ruettimann

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