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Write on: Basketball coach uplifts with notes

Write on: Basketball coach uplifts with notes


Jerry Wainwright often rises at 3:30 a.m., to get a jump on something he's been doing for decades.

Wainwright, a longtime college basketball coach who is now associate head coach at California State University, Fresno, spends 90 minutes each morning handwriting notes to former coaches, players and managers. 

He does, after all, pump out 300 to 500 per week.

"I love getting a personal letter because I know what went into sending it," Wainwright told the Wall Street Journal. "It’s such a great compliment."

He's got his stationery, envelopes, stamps and addresses, which he takes with him on road trips. Wainwright, 68, tracks when someone is sick, when someone loses a family member, and he searches for inspiring messages and passages in his three-ring binder.

He started the practice in the 1970s, when he was coaching high school basketball. Barry Rohrssen, now the associate head coach at St. John’s University, received his first letter in 1991. 

“I’ve kept them all,” Rohrssen told the Journal.

How many?

Around 2,000, which he keeps in binders and sometimes posts for his team to see.

Rohrssen, who met Wainwright at a basketball camp, has had the letters follow him to different coaching jobs in different states.

In this Internet age, the recipients of Wainwright's handwritten letters appreciate the investment in time.

“That someone is taking the time to impact your life, after all these years, is really quite special to me,” Peter Rudman, a college basketball producer at ESPN, told the Journal.

Recently, Rudman received several notes, including one that read: "Pete—I hope you and your beautiful family are well and happy. You are a problem solver!"

Rudman shared that note with his 12-year-old son.

After the Journal published the story, players, coaches and many others around the nation offered support and shared their favorite messages.

Naturally, Wainwright downplays all this. 

"It is just a way to communicate with people who are special in my professional and personal life," Wainwright told the Journal. "Maybe there’s an easier or more meaningful way to do it."

Source: The Wall Street Journal


Winwright isn't just a prodigious letter-writer. In 16 seasons as a head coach, most recently at DePaul, he led his team to seven postseason appearances.

s also the head coach of DePaul University Blue Demons from 2005–2010.[

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