The Trinity College Mens Squash team has won 244 consecutive matches, the most in college sports history. They have won 13 straight national championships. Their coach is Paul Assaiante, author of “Run to the Roar.”

I spoke to Coach Assaiante this morning and he shared with me his favorite story of an athlete overcoming adversity, which is also in his book.

When I was coaching squash and tennis at West Point, I had a kid named George Geczy. An army brat, the son of a high-ranking officer, he was a special kid, with a concentrated stare and an acetylene voice. He was not a great tennis player; when God was handing out tennis skills, George was in the men’s room. In the winter of freshman year, he got knocked out during a boxing class, and X-rays revealed a brain tumor. It was lucky that he had gotten knocked out; otherwise they would have never discovered the tumor. Doctors operated on him that night. He recovered enough to travel to Germany, where his father was stationed. Because of residual damage from the tumor, the doctors said, he would have trouble walking for the rest of his life.

The following September, George came back to West Point. He walked with a cane. He forgot names. He did pushups agonizingly slow. For a second time, he went through all the plebe-year hazing. In the spring he came out for the tennis team. He couldn’t run, he couldn’t walk. There was no way he could hit a tennis ball. But George was driven. I couldn’t say no and kick him off the team. I remembered how, in my freshman year of college, I had appeared at Springfield College after a couple of years of gymnastics training as a schoolboy on the weekends. Springfield had a rich tradition in gymnastics. Frank Wolcott had run Springfield’s program since 1955, and by the time I arrived on campus in the fall of 1970, he was firmly entrenched as one of the nation’s great gymnastic coaches—so great that he rightly judged my abilities and cut me after I tried out as a walk-on. He kindly said I could try out the next year. I refused to listen. “You’ll have to call security every day, because I intend to keep coming,” I told him. “I’m going to make the team.” Wolcott agreed to name me the “manager” of the team and let me attend practice. By the end of the season, I had made varsity.

In the same vein, I named George manager and assistant coach, assigning jobs like collecting towels and carrying the ball hoppers. In his sophomore year, he threw away the cane and was able to get on the court, so I asked him to feed balls to players. Then he became a hitting partner for the junior-varsity guys, and then a doubles partner when someone was late. George came to every practice. He lifted weights. He hit hundreds of balls. He worked relentlessly. In his junior year, he played doubles in a couple of junior-varsity matches at the beginning of the season, and by the end of it, he was at the top of the JV. The team elected him captain for his senior year, and he played on the varsity.

So if George can do all that, imagine what YOU can do?

Thanks for reading, and thank you, Coach Assaiante.

Ed Tseng
Director of Mental Conditioning
Monroe Sports Center


Yesterday, I talked about one of my she-roes, my mother.

Today, I want to talk about another one of my she-roes, the great Rayna DuBose (ABOVE at the Sports Legends Museum in Baltimore with yours truly).

For those of you who complain about the little things in life, after reading today’s message, there’s a good chance you will never complain again.

From Rayna’s website:

What started as a dream in 2001 quickly turned into a disaster for Rayna DuBose, a highly recruited student who was granted a full athletic scholarship to play Division I Women’s Basketball at Virginia Tech. Rayna entered Virginia Tech in 2001 as a part of the women’s team which was in the Big East Conference at the time. By the time April 2002 had approached, Rayna was struck with a deadly bacterial disease known as meningococcal meningitis, which then led to 96 days in the UVA Medical Center in Charlottesville, Virginia, with collapsed organs, non-functioning kidneys which had her on dialysis, in a coma, liver problems and worst of all no blood circulation to her hands. She was a vegetable fighting for her life. Soon enough the day came when all four of her limbs were amputated and she became a bi-lateral amputee.

After the pain, therapy and what seemed like torture, Rayna returned back to Virginia Tech in the summer of 2003 to return to her normal college life as if nothing had ever happened. With a year off from school in 2002 she still remained active, taking on-line classes and staying a part of the Virginia Tech Women’s Basketball team by serving as a Student Assistant Coach, still traveling and being a part of the team. In 2003 she received the Most Courageous Award at the Men’s Final Four in New Orleans. In 2005 she received the Wilma Rudolph Award. She was also given the 2009 National Ethnic Coalition Organization Congressional Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and was the 2009 McDonalds Athlete of the Day for the Military Paralympics. Rayna has also made appearances on HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, CBS Sports, the CBS Early Show, Cayman Islands news, and local news stations. Just recently completed the USA a2 sitting volleyball training camp.

I caught up with my inspirational friend earlier today on Facebook (Yes, she uses Facebook—in fact Rayna and I text all the time).

The first time I met Rayna, I asked her what she did first thing in the morning.

She said, “Put on my arms and legs.”

Anyone feel like complaining about the fact that it’s “Monday”?!?

Today, Rayna told me, you have to appreciate what you have because you never know what can happen. She has actually said that becoming an amputee was the best thing that ever happened to her because now she is helping others.


DuBose also said that the secret to life is to love yourself. I like that.

I asked Rayna if she thought anything was possible.

“EVERYTHING is possible depending on how bad you want it and how hard you will work for it.”

That’s mental toughness.

Rayna does not feel that she is handicapped. It just takes her a little longer to do some things. She even drives when she goes out with her friends!

Sports and life is not about what happens to us, it’s all about how we respond.

So the next time you feel like complaining or feel that you can’t do something, remember Rayna’s words.


Better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness.

-Chinese proverb

As a coach, I see many players “cursing the darkness.”

“The referee made a terrible call!”

“It was so windy!”

“Why can’t I make a shot today?!?”

The losers in life curse the darkness, or focus on the negatives.

The winners, on the other hand, light a candle (even if it is a small one), and focus on the positives, and the lesson learned.

“I can’t serve!” —Bad

“I am not a good test-taker!” —Bad

“I don’t have any money!” —Bad

“I missed that shot, so what? It’s in the past and I can’t change that, so let’s focus on this point—you’re still in control.” —Good

“Tests are difficult for me, but I am going to relax and trust all the hard work I put into it.” —Good

“Money may be tight, but this is a great excuse for me to think outside the box and creatively make more money—there are many options.” —Good

What you say to yourself affects what type of results you get. You don’t have to win the US Open to think like a winner.

Stop whining, start winning. And the next time adversity hits, don’t curse the darkness, light a candle instead.


Suppose you are down at the beach and you catch a crab. If you put it in a bucket, you need to cover the bucket or the crab will climb out. But if you catch more than one crab, you don’t need to put a cover on the bucket. Why?

Because when one crab tries to climb out of the bucket, the other crabs will grab it and pull it back in. It doesn’t matter how many crabs are in the bucket.

Now what does this have to do with you?

You’re not a crab and other crabs will not bring you down.

But other people might bring you down by things that they say or things that they do. Certain events or situations might bring you down.

But don’t let them.

You choose how you react to different people and different situations. There are some things that you cannot control, but you can control your actions. And your reactions. Here’s my recommended action:

Keep climbing.


I just got off the phone with one of my she-ros, Rayna DuBose.

Rayna was a top basketball recruit and received a full scholarship to Virginia Tech. After her first season, she contracted a type of meningitis and within 24 hours, she had all four limbs amputated. Now she is a motivational speaker.

She said that was the best thing that ever happened to her.


Because now she is helping other people.

A pretty bold statement from someone who, wakes up and first thing in the morning, puts on her arms and legs (prosthetics).

We cannot control our situations but we can control our attitudes towards them.

Be like Rayna.


Someone once asked George Foreman, former world heavyweight boxing champion of the world, how he withstood the pain from being a boxer.

Foreman replied:

“If I see what I want real good in my mind, I don’t notice any pain in getting it.”

How does this relate to you?

1. Visualize the athlete, student, or salesperson you want to be.
2. Do whatever it takes to get there. No exceptions.
3. Begin today.


In Derek Jeter’s professional debut in the minor leagues, he played a doubleheader and went 0 for 7 with five strikeouts.

He doubted himself.

But he didn’t show it. Nobody knew.

He continued to work hard and he persisted.

Challenges can make or break you.

In fact, William Arthur Ward once said, “Adversity causes some men to break, others to break records.”

How do you react in challenging situations?


Jim Abbott threw a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians on September 4, 1993, and he won the game 4-0.

AND Jim Abbott was born without a right hand.

Imagine what YOU can do…

Your only disability is in your mind.


Well, so far, my prediction is coming true – Tiger Woods is returning to the golf world and showing the world (and himself) how to learn from mistakes. If he stays clean and kicks some major butt, my prediction will have been right on the money.

In his first interviews since the incident Tiger said…

“You strip away the denial, the rationalization and you come to the truth,” he said, “and the truth is very painful at times, and to stare at yourself and look at the person you’ve become, you become disgusted.”

I said from the beginning that Tiger just needs to speak from the heart but many people told me, “That’s not Tiger.” The quote above seems pretty honest to me.

And regarding not knowing his schedule after The Masters, Woods commented…

“That to me is a little bit bothersome, too, in a sense that I don’t like not knowing what to do. But what I know I have to do is become a better person, and that begins with going to more treatment.”

Tiger knows what he needs to do, and he’s doing it. And soon he will be getting it done on the golf course too.

No mistakes are bad if you learn from them.

Go get ’em, Tiger.