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This Week in Athletics

A Life Well-Lived By Mark Hull

It was a reminder of how fast time passes. I sat with my family at the funeral of a legendary coach and family friend. The most influential (and the most accomplished) coach in my life, Olympic medalist and Wrestling Hall of Fame member Russ Hellickson, got up to speak to the family at the funeral. Here’s what he shared about LaVerne Pieper, his high school coach:

There is no more powerful force in our human universe than influence. Verne Pieper showed me that. State championships and state champions do not grow on trees. Thousands of coaches have tried and failed to do what Coach Pieper made a way of life in Stoughton. He planted the seeds of potential in our minds. Over time he showed us how an impossible, improbable, unimaginable accomplishment could be done… and repeated! That is not an accident! We all learned that success is always earned. He showed and taught us how to win, but also how to lose with dignity and honor. Sportsmanship is life’s most difficult lesson, and Mr. Pieper had it down cold. There is no greater testimony and verification of a life well-lived than the life altering acknowledgments from so many others. It is impactful confirmation of the profound conforming influence of strong, consistent, fair, and reassuring guidance. That’s my first wrestling coach in a nutshell.

I believe we all, at times, stand on the threshold of greatness in our own lives, in want only of the wisdom and love and direction from an unselfish soul, who lives a life driven to change ours. If that happens… we have been blessed. I know I won the Verne Pieper lottery! He tested my resolve, and helped mold my character, and made my reach extend far beyond my grasp. I am one of many voices who emotionally applaud Coach Pieper’s influence in my life. He touched my life like Midas, and golden opportunities have fallen before me since that time. I am honored to call him my coach, my mentor and my friend.

I tried often to convey my deep appreciation for his leadership and motivational guidance at a pivotal time in my life. I have been grateful all my years from then, that Coach Pieper lived a life that gave so much purpose to mine.

Verne Pieper’s purpose transformed the life of my coach. Though I never had the privilege of being coached by this family friend, I become a grandchild of that legacy. It is the desire of the 3D Institute to empower you to live and coach in such a way that the same would be said of you.

There is no greater testimony and verification of a life well-lived than the life altering acknowledgments from so many others.

Jon Goodman