Friday, August 28, 2020

 Remembering Coach Lute Olson

In 1988 Ron and I were very honored to be a part of the Ronald Reagan Official Presidential Delegation to the Olympics in Seoul, Korea.  The first night there was a welcome party at Jim Lily's home, our American Ambassador to South Korea. When we were introduced, along with the other members of our delegation, Ron spotted the University of Arizona basketball coach, Lute Olson in the crowd.  Because we were both U of A graduates and had a gigantic satellite dish on our roof in Potomac, Maryland for one reason only, watch the U of A wildcats play basketball.  Ron would call the University, get the coordinates for the game, and beam that sucker across the US of A to pick up the feed.   Somehow he'd always manage to find it and we were right there amid the hoopla.  It was magic. 

And because of this, Ron obviously knew exactly what Lute Olson looked like.  He couldn't wait for the speeches to end, and when they finally did, we made a B-line through the crowd to find our coach.

When we introduced ourselves, both Lute and his wife, Bobbi, said they were so glad to meet some Arizona folks because they didn't know a soul.  Ron told them to stick with us, and they joined the Official delegation as our special guests.  They were a wonderful addition and it was so much fun.

For years we would spend Christmas in Tucson with Ron's mom.  It was so great to leave the freezing east and enjoy the sunny weather in the southwest.  We would always get tickets to the Fiesta Classic Basketball tournament held in late December.  It was our chance to get to know the players and we always had dinner with Lute and Bobbi.  If it was around New Year's Eve, Bobbi always said we should wear something Glitzy.  She was such a dear lady and so fun to be with.

During this time, Ron was a member of the NCAA Leadership Foundation and they always held their annual meeting at the Final Four.  We did this for fourteen straight years.  Often it was another chance to spend time with Coach O and Bobbi and he never failed to reminisce about how we met and what fun our friendship had always been. We were there when the Arizona Wildcats blew away three number one seeds to beat Kentucky in triple overtime.  The year was 1997.

We will miss our precious friend, but we cherish all the special times we spent together.  Thanks for the memories, Coach O.  Tucson will never forget you.

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