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posted: 4/17/2013 5:00 AM

'You gotta wanna' worked miracles

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'You gotta wanna' worked miracles

Bob Riek was my wrestling coach in 1964 at Maine East High School. His favorite saying was, "Son, you gotta wanna." To a kid in need of a father figure at the time, I couldn't have asked for a better one. I was never a great wrestler, and when I'd look up for help, it would always be, "Son, you gotta wanna."

College was a tough time. Always got good grades but struggled with a lot of other issues. Ended up taking me six years to get a degree as a health teacher. But whenever I started thinking about giving up, there was always this voice in my head saying, "Son, you gotta wanna"

When I graduated and got a job, I went to Maine West where he was working at the time and told him exactly what I've related here, and thanked him. Nice moment.

One of my first acts as a teacher was to make a banner for my classroom with "You gotta wanna" on it. Twenty-one years later, I was nominated for Teacher of the Month by a girl from that first year. She struggled like me for years, but got through college, and law school, and finally became a district attorney. She said she owed it all to "You gotta wanna."

There have been well over 10,000 students since then. Each one left with a little piece of Bob Riek. His passing made me realize that all I've done and had, and have now, I might owe to those three little words. Like that song, "I just wish I would have told him, in the living years."

Wherever he's going now, I'm positive he'll get there because of those same three words he lived by. Godspeed, coach.

Ray Mathis

McHenry

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