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LETTER FROM A GRADUATE Dear Sam: I passed the school today and from the distance Caught a quick impression of red cap and jacket On the same familiar steps that led me in a boy And led me out in some degree of manhood. And I thought how right it was to see you there. You know how years stretch out and one puts off the telling Of something said that changed a life ' s direction. But seeing you again, I tell you now. I remember how you kicked us and how you loved us With the same ferocious vigor, And how proud we were to be Sam ' s boys. Even when you melted us with shame When we lost a game we should have won. You used to say: " Play hard to win. You didn ' t practice for defeat. You didn ' t crawl and hit and fall and rise To be losers. Play fair; play clean; But win! " And when we only tied the championship We should have won, you scowled and yelled And told us we wouldn ' t make the Hall of Fame that year. And we didn ' t. Dissatisfied with mediocrity. Angry with any who produced less than his best. You were the coach of stars whose winning fire Proclaimed the faith you had in them. The goals you made them strive for: Forest Evashevski, Charlie Pink, Willis Ward, Dave Nelson, Bill Heston. " Snitz " Ross, Stanley Fay, Ernie McCoy, And all the others. I have carried you with me all these years. And I thought I ought to tell you That many near-defeats I didn ' t have to yield to Since then have turned to victory Because you always said: " You didn ' t play to lose. Naomi Madgett
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