May 14, 2008
11:50pm CHINA TIME
I hope this entry finds you all in great sprits.
The journey getting to China was amazing. It all starts with the following: The 2008 Reach USA travel group met at O'Hare airport in the international ticket area. All of whom arrived via connecting flights and or drive. One by one we all eventually made it. Robby Speer (Reach USA), Steve Yue Wang (Interpreter), Jason Wright (Athletic Trainer), Jerrance Howard (University of Illinois Assistant Coach & Reach USA Head Coach), Travius Ware, Nick Evans (Southern Illinois University), Zach Swansey (University of Georgia), Xavier Silas (Northern Illinois University), Michael Sanchez (Arkansas), Jermaine Beal (Vanderbilt), Demetri McCamey (University of Illinois), Elgin Bailey (Mississippi State University), Michael Davis (University of Illinois) and myself.
During the first flight, from Chicago to Tokyo, I decided to polish up on my Chinese with Steve our interpreter. If any of you guys are now thinking that Coach Gates speaks two languages, STOP but continue to read along! I actually attempted to teach myself Chinese late Sunday night and early Monday morning prior to arriving at the airport. Not even 24 hours of experience. Talk about cramming for a test! The method behind the madness was "Well I will get to that later." But I had less than 17 hours before I step foot on China's soil. So with confidence, I told Steve to "Throw me my first word!" Steve says "Zai Jian"!
Now the catch was trying to correctly pronounce the word! After a couple of attempts, it began to feel like my last year of undergrad at Berkeley during finals when that mythical senioritis began to set in. Instead of studying for my oral exams, I managed to always find something better to do! So at this point I began to search for my Sudoku book and Ipod, which ever I blindly retrieved first from underneath the seat. Then it dawned on me that I had placed my carry-on in the overhead compartment! But at any rate I got my degree. However, to make a short story even shorter, I did not even get to the second word.
Moral of the story is, "Practice alone does not make you perfect. Perfect practice does."
Associate Head Men's Basketball Coach
Ps the meaning of Zai Jian will be in Entry #2