Jim Lambright, Former Husky Coach and Defensive Coordinator of the Don James Era
Bill Prather introduced our speaker, Jim Lambright, who originated in Everett. Jim is a member of the Marysville Rotary and considers is very fun to go to Rotary clubs and speak and meet like-minded Rotarians. When he started, Coach Lambright’s first question was: “Are there any Ducks here?” A couple around the room made inaudible remarks in jest. He responded, “Well, you don’t have one of these!” He held up his national championship ring. Later, he passed it around the room: a large hunk of solid gold, engraved with “National Champions” and encrusted with a huge numeral one in diamonds. No, the Ducks don’t have any of those.
Bill Prather makes the introduction.
The theme he grew up with, and the theme of his talk, was “always strive to have a better year.” That’s what Rotary is about. None of us can plan our lives. We live by a flip of the coin. Time is important: if you come to the meeting late, then the door is not only closed, it might be locked.
The Coach Grew up with a fisherman father and a stay-at-home mom. Some of the characteristics he picked up from his dad weren’t necessarily good for his first marriage. However, he quickly turned to the positive, asking, “How many times in your lives do you have an opportunity to make a difference?” The school system of Everett taught him one thing: when you join an organization, when you are done, not everybody will still be there. Not all succeed. That was demonstrated in his first day of practice in football: the coach said not everybody would be there when they were done. That was true when he went to the UW later, and it is also true in business. That is our system: winners survive; losers don’t.
When he left Everett to go to the UW, he entered the Jim Owens system of football as an undersized linebacker. Of the 140 who started with him, 11 were there in their senior year at the end. They ran off the ones who didn’t succeed. When he saw that happening, he realized the value of school and the criticality of making the team. Two years into UW, he was failing in engineering, so he switched from engineering to teaching and coaching. Along the way, he discovered that life is all about sales and teaching. Later, at the UW, he was head coach for six years, and they were in a bowl every year, and one year they were national champions. However, at the end, he received a call on the way home from the bowl game from the UW athletic director saying he and his entire staff were fired. He had no idea what to do next.
Two weeks later he came home from a Rotary meeting and everything purple was stacked up in the dining room. The order from his wife? If you want it take it now; otherwise, I’m burning it.
Jim Lambright talks with members after the meeting.
Shortly after that, Lou Tice gave him a call on The Power of Positive Thinking. He stayed with them for three years. Afterward, he left to do consulting on his own.
At that time, he learned that his two sons had a progressive terminal disease. He had already lost his oldest son to a heart attack. Shortly after that, he was diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of cancer. He fought that disease just as aggressively, and after it went into regression, his wife was also diagnosed with bladder cancer. It hit her harder, and they moved to different houses to accommodate her medical needs and the needs of their ailing son living with them. After several intermediate stops, they have now landed in Clearview.
In retrospect, he concluded that after football, you have the rest of your life. Enjoy today, and plan for tomorrow. Always strive to have a better day.
In closing, the coach informed us he is now consulting for Turner Construction. Part of his job is helping to tear down and rebuild Husky Stadium. As in his other jobs, he doesn’t want to get older, he wants to get smarter. Coach Jim Lambright wasn’t just a football coach in his speech on Friday — for the lucky attendees, he was also a life coach.