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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


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