I Can’t Get It Out of My Mind

Most mornings, the same routine is followed by the Steinmeyer household.  I’m the first up and do nothing useful for at least an hour.  Oh, I think I’m accomplishing something while everyone sleeps, but that only happens when I’m desperate.  For instance, if I just couldn’t keep my eyes open to break down game film on an opponent, I put it off as long as possible, which means I’m up at 5 am in the morning.

I get Sam, my 12 year old son, out of bed, feed him breakfast, and hustle him off to school.  Just as he gets out at the front of the school, my routine is to repeat those famous lines Pat O’Brien used in the film, Knute Rockne, All American.  O’Brien played the great Notre Dame football coach, Knute Rockne.  As his team was in the locker room at halftime of a game with Army, which was ranked number one in the nation, he recalled a final meeting with his greatest player.

That player was George Gipp.  The hard-luck football star was played by Ronald Reagan in the 1937 film.  He became such an icon because of the classic movie, that the eulogy for our 40th president was closed with, “We did truly win one for the Gipper.”

That’s what I use on Sam almost every morning of the school year.  As a sleepy sixth grader gets ready to exit my car for Maryville Middle School, I utter the famous Knute Rockne words to his team during that fateful halftime speech.  However, I can’t say it now because it will screw up my top 10 list.

In real life, that Notre Dame team tore out of the locker room to demolish an unsuspecting Army team.  In my real life, I don’t think it has that affect on my son as he attacks another stressful day of multiplication tables and ancient civilizations found in Middle School curriculums.

I love quotes and steal many when talking to my team.  President Franklin Roosevelt said two quotes that will always rein as words that will never be forgotten.  During his first inauguration, he stated, “The only thing to fear is fear itself.”  Who can forget the speech to a joint session of Congress after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, “December 7, 1941; A date which will live in infamy.

On the lighter side, “Yogisms” from former Yankee catcher Yogi Berra are fantastic, if not head scratchers.  Yogi is the person who said, “Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.”  Go get your calculator to figure that one out.  Often quoted is his, “It ain’t over until it’s over;” and “It’s déjà-vu all over again.”

If you want to relate golf to basketball, you would take Kevin Costner’s line from Tin Cup to heart.  As he tries to teach the game of golf to potential girl friend, Rene Russo, he makes a very profound statement.  “Perfection is unattainable,” Costner says about golf, but he surely was speaking for all basketball coaches of the world.

Those make my honorable mention list to my top 10 favorite quotes, mostly from the movies.  I can’t help myself; you will have to evaluate my top 10 list for yourself.

#10 – Tom Hanks has a lot of great lines from his movies.  “Houston, we have a problem,” from Apollo 13 is often quoted.  My assistant coach is Addae Houston, so if things are going wrong on the basketball floor, I can always fall back on that line.

However, one of my favorite Tom Hanks movie line comes from Forrest Gump.  He says it a few times as he carries around a box of chocolates for his girl friend, Jenny.  “My momma told me life is like a bunch of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.”  Boy is that true when you coach women’s basketball.  Each day and each game is like those chocolates.  I hope I don’t choke on them someday.  I’ll come back to Tom Hank lines later in the countdown.

#9 – As a basketball coach, the next movie quote will never fit me.  Tom Cruise, a sports agent, was forced to scream it as he searched big money for his lone client, Cuba Gooding, Jr.  He shouted, “Show me the money!”  If only I was named Geno (Connecticut head women’s coach) and not Gene (me).

The popularity of “Show me the money!” has probably faded since the release of the 1996 film.  The cry for funds has not faded for any parents with teenagers at home.  “Show me the money!”

#8 – You can’t be from Missouri without appreciating the famous political line, “The buck stops here.”  From all I can find out, the famous saying was created by the 33rd president who resided in the great state of Missouri.  “Give ‘em hell, Harry” as President Truman was nicknamed, faced a lot of bucks during his presidency.  He had to deal with the end of World War II, the beginning of the nuclear age, the Korean War, and run-away generals.

#7 – Getting back to the movies, Clint Eastwood intimidated more bad guys than probably any actor in history.  He didn’t say much as the silent, deadly cowboy in his spaghetti westerns.  He did, however, blow away with a bunch of scum bags as the San Francisco cop, Harry Callahan.  Dirty Harry had a flare of taking care of the villains.  He would point that oversized pistol into his adversaries face and say, “Go ahead punk, make my day!”  The only better way of ridding society of criminals is how John McClane (Bruce Willis) did it in the Die Hard movies.  However, I can’t print that line in this blog.

#6 – As long as we’re into intimidating lines, what about the 1972 classic, Godfather?  Marlon Brando is comforting his celebrate friend who couldn’t get a part in a movie.  The Don promised the part in the movie would soon be offered.  When asked how that was possible, he uttered the famous line, “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

The movie director initially refused to change his mind.  Remember what helped him reconsider?  Waking up with a dead horse head littering his silk sheets turned out to be a convincing argument.  I read somewhere that was a real horse head taken from a slaughter house.  Animal activists today would have a cow if a movie pulled that stunt with a real horse.

#5 – How many times have you been on a trip that has lasted a day or so too long and you thought or uttered the line Dorothy used to close the famous movie, The Wizard of Oz?  Of course, I’m talking about, “There’s no place like home.”  Dorothy actually said it twice.  She clicked those ruby slippers, closed her eyes, and wished to be back in Kansas.

When the famous owner of Toto, the dog, finally got back to Kansas, she seemed very happy.  Nursing a goose egg, but no further damage from the tornado, Dorothy looked into Auntie Em’s eyes at said, “There’s no place like home.”

Nobody really knows what town in Kansas was home to Dorothy.  Some say it was the fictitious town of Butterfield.  Others claim it was Topeka, Cottonwood Falls or Liberal, Kansas.  Who knows, but a lot of Kansas residents back when the film came out in 1939 were not happy about how their home state was portrayed.  They claimed the film must be set in South Dakota.

#4 – I have to bring back Tom Hanks for number four on my list.  It comes from the sports movie, A League of Their Own.  Hanks, playing the part of a disgraced major league baseball manager, is forced to coach one of four teams in the Professional Women’s Baseball League during World War II.  He’s gruff and often drunk when dealing with his female ball players.  Before one at bat, his loud criticism caused a player to shed tears.  That when “There’s no crying in baseball,” comes out of his mouth.

That’s a perfect line for any sport.  It doesn’t have to be limited to women’s sports.  I once had a men’s basketball player in class at Doane College.  He defended sniffling women when he admitted to shedding tears after being ripped by his aging, crappy coach.

#3 – Lori Hopkins was my assistant coach for eight years.  She clued me into this line from the movie, Sandlot.  I had seen the movie, but just didn’t figure out the significant of the line.  I’m speaking of, “You’re killing me Smalls.”  The chubby catcher from the sandlot team said it at least twice in the movie.  Both times, the catcher shows his frustration in the limited knowledge shown by the new kid on the block.  Once it involved chewing tobacco and once in making s’ mores.

It has a lot of uses in sports.  Coaches are frustrated any number of times.  It works great for parents, too.  I have said it often to Sam.  I thought he knew I had stolen the line from Sandlot.  We both had seen the movie many times.  However, after one of my frustrated proclamations, Sam said, “Dad, how come you make fun of my size.”  I really screw up on that one.  Sam knows now that Smalls is the last name of the new kid and not his physical stature.

#2 – The runner-up is reserved for the Knute Rockne speech I give Sam every weekday morning before he starts a day at the salt mines know as the Middle School.  Rockne was shouting, spitting and hyperventilating when he said, “Go out there and FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT, and win one for the Gipper.”  Today’s youth has no clue who Knute Rockne, George Gipp, or Ronald Reagan is, but Sam won’t soon forget.  Sometimes I substitute Pitter instead of Gipper.  Kevin Pitts is Sam’s principal and he can always use a few favorable points with his administrator.

#1 – Can I have a drum roll, please?  My all time favorite movie line has no equal.  Second place isn’t even in the rear view mirror.  It comes from the lips of Jack Nicholson as he’s being cross examined by Tom Cruise in the movie A Few Good Men.  If I see the movie is being run on television, I’ll watch it for two hours just to hear the line in the last 10 minutes.  It’s that good.

Cruise is in rare form, antagonizing Colonel Jessup into admitting ordering a Code Red to punish an underachieving Marine.  Finally Cruise screams, “I want the truth,” and Nicholson counters, “You can’t handle the truth.”  The whole dialog is great.  Jessup continues, “You want me on that wall; you need me on that wall.”  After hearing that, my wife has to hold me back from running off and enlisting in the Marines.

Basketball practice starts next week.  I’ll dig out all these lines and more, trying to inspire my players.  I just found out a newcomer not named Smalls is a huge fan of movie lines.  Maggie Marnin, a freshman from Stuart, IA, told me she particularly likes a couple of lines from the classic, Gone with the Wind.

Of course, the number one line comes from the male star, Clark Gable as he blows off his love interest, Vivien Leigh.  “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”  I wonder how many women have heard that line over the years.  The comeback line ends the movie and also is a favorite of Maggie’s.  Among a flurry of tears (don’t she know there’s no crying in the Civil War), Vivien Leigh wailing as the movie finally ends, “I’ll never be hungry again.”  I don’t know she never looked hungry to me.

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Gene Steinmeyer

About Gene Steinmeyer

Gene Steinmeyer coached the Northwest Missouri State women’s basketball team for 13 seasons before retiring after 26 years as a collegiate head coach after the 2011-12 season. He retired as the second winningest women’s basketball coach at Northwest as his 2010-11 team won both the MIAA Regular Season and Tournament Championship advancing to the NCAA National Semifinals one game shy of the national championship game.