To honor the excitement and history that is the NCAA tournament, NCAA.com will be publishing first-person accounts from different people who have March Madness experiences to share. These March Madness Voices represent the people behind what makes the NCAA tournament one of the most thrilling sporting events of the year. Check back at NCAA.com to read more stories that will be published throughout March.
Cathleen Trapani, the granddaughter of legendary coach John Wooden, is a mother of two and currently resides in Southern California. Below she writes about her March Madness experiences from when she was a young girl to a mother of her own.
It’s times like these when I miss my grandfather the most.
March Madness is here, when college basketball is at its best. It’s during this month, along with the start of basketball season and of course his birthday, when I really think about him the most. I recall the memories we shared, the wisdom he gave me and the way he lived his life.
He is the man who the world knows as the greatest basketball coach of all time, John Wooden. To me, he’s Papa.
When I look back at some of my March Madness memories, I can’t help but laugh with joy.
I think about the national title he won when I was eight years old. After the victory we went back to his apartment in Santa Monica. As we were getting ready to go out to eat, the telephone rang. Papa answered and said hello.
I am just getting ready to take my family out for dinner...Of course I will hold, I heard him say.
Thank you Mr. President, I really appreciate that.
Then he handed the phone to me. On the other end was Richard Nixon. The President said hello to all of us grandchildren and later wrote each grandchild a letter on stationery from the White House. It was what I brought to show and tell at school each year after.