That’s my late dad, Rudy Trendl. More of a joke teller than witty, but as you can see, he had a smile ready to go. Here, he’s celebrating his 80th birthday, some eight months before he died.
He helped me professionally without realizing it.
As founder and head coach of our parish basketball league, he’d address their annual banquet. I don’t remember a word he said as I stuffed my face full of dried mostaccioli, greasy fried chicken, and overcooked roast beef. From what I’m told, he spoke longer than he should have.
My dad taught me vocabulary words in the motion of life. He’d use a new word and then define it for me.
The way he helped me, though, was more than just the occasional vocabulary lesson. As a coach, his focus was on fundamentals. When you dribble, keep the height and angle in control. Do a basic layup whenever possible. Run your drills frequently. And get that ball.
What does this have to do with speech writing? My dad would not have used this phrase, but he lived out that Louis Sullivan maxim, “form follows function.” Remember the goal, and stay focused on accomplishing it.
With basketball, it’s to get more baskets than the other team. With a speech, it’s to encourage the audience to do a great thing, donate money, or to make a wise decision.
My dad followed that. I learned that fundamentals matter.
So here’s to you Dad, on what would have been your 91st year, following the fundamentals of life. I’m a better writer because you were a basketball coach.