News

Published:

May 21, 2017
 
Tagged: Commencement

Al Trautwig 2017 Commencement Speech

News, Speeches and Correspondence


 

Good Morning, What an amazing sight and extraordinary honor. To everyone within the sound of my voice who played a role in allowing me to be here, it is too late to change your mind.
By the way, I guess now that I am a doctor I can help you with all your prescription needs.

I would like to thank Dr. Robert Scott and Rory Schaeffer Walsh for enthusiastically welcoming me back to Adelphi. It has changed my life by forcing me to rethink things that I have done and still want do. My students helped me to do that. Thanks guys.

To President Christine Riordan, the trustees, distinguished guests, alumni, teachers, staff, moms, dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles, sisters, brothers, and the workers at the Ruth S. Harley Starbucks. Thank you for all that you have done to help create this fabulous Adelphi Class of 2017.

This is the 121st commencement in the history of Adelphi…I think mine was the third, not sure, but think about that. That’s a tradition you will forever be proud to be a part of. 

I have seen how many of you are dedicated to social work and giving back. You are headed down a righteous path. Congratulations. The world needs you.

To this class I say you can one day stand where I am right now. I know this because I sat where you are sitting…in 1978.

On that day I had no idea I would become a broadcaster or that I had already met the woman that would become my cherished wife, and that we would have one of the greatest sons ever. No idea I would go to 16 Olympics, fly an F15, play basketball against the Harlem Globetrotters, race a car on the Indianapolis Motor speedway, stand next to my favorite Yankee of all time, Paul O’Neill on a float in the Canyon of Heroes in 1996 or that I would do that three more times. Or that Mark Messier would one day tell me it was OK to sip champagne from the Stanley Cup. Those are the kinds of possibilities that lie ahead for all of you, OK maybe not the Stanley Cup part, but it’s still exciting. 

I have lived a large part of my life hosting pre games, games and post games, and it strikes me that for most of you this day marks the end of your pre game show. Now the real game begins. I have seen tangible evidence of
what champions are made of. What it takes to win the game. After all isn’t that what life is all about. I think that is what I love the most about sports. You play to win at life as you do in sports.

This past Knicks season after one of their bad losses, there were many to choose from, I wondered if the coach would tear into the team. Then after all these years it dawned on me. That only makes sense if the team has outwardly stated what their intentions were before the games began. Did they want win a championship or just be competitive and maybe make the playoffs or even worse just wait and see what happens? 

That is what you must do. Tell yourself what standard you want to set. Be just good enough, very good…or be great. Then every time you succeed or fail you can honestly look to see if you did everything that you could. You have to be brutally honest with yourself because that is what life will be with you.

Derek Jeter is probably is the standard to start with around here.

He had a Yankee poster on the wall of his room as a kid. Told people that was his dream. People made fun of it, but it was and became his reality. When he was called up in 1995 all scouts would tell you was that his footwork was terrible…terrible as in no shot…so what was he doing when the next spring training began? He was learning how to dance over the second base bag with teammate Luis Sojo…literally.

Footwork became a strength. he became a five time champion, married his love, started his own business and now has access to millions if not billions of dollars. That is success…for him. You probably won’t have a Jeter like career, but you should try.

How do you define success and winning? Money, family, love? All of the above? That is something you must do and say it out loud to yourself. What does success mean to you? Make a plan to achieve it, and by the way have a plan B and C.

When I was a teenager I worked for the Nets basketball team. A team I loved. In a really big game they were almost instantly down by twenty. I was crushed. I saw no hope. Their head coach Lou Carnesecca was a legend, and at the end of the first quarter in the timeout he screamed, “just get it down to ten by halftime”. It was his plan B it worked and they won. What a cool concept I thought. After you graduate don’t let failures get you down, just fix them a little bit at a time.

My Dad died in 1997. At that time Jeff Van Gundy was the no nonsense head coach of the Knicks. The Knicks were in the playoffs and walking out to the court to coach one of the biggest games he ever coached. Jeff stopped by me and said “sorry about your dad”. It was thoughtful and very human. There is always time for that. Little things that become big things. I’m still thinking about it twenty years later. Be great at the simple little things. 

Jeff also told me that the cause of all his worst losses was free throws … one of the simplest things a basketball player has to do. Be great at the simple little things.

The Knicks once had a player by the name of David Lee. He came into the league as hard working rebounder but a bad free throw shooter. His second season he improved by 30 percent, unheard of, and I asked him how. He explained that he went to a shooting coach and learned there are two aspects to a free throw. The rise up and the release. Two elements. If you pause at the rise all you have to do is the release. He had removed half the potential for error. He became an all star, owner of an $80 million dollar contract and won a championship with the Golden State Warriors. There are so many of us out there who are not great at what they do and never try to get better. I don’t get that. Ask for advice…seek it out. It’s what the greats do. 

I have a friend at CBS News and one of his jobs is interview all the prospective interns and he has been doing it a long time. His son graduated college and was set up for his big interview for the job he really wanted. Dad said do you want to rehearse and his son laughed. It was such a dad thing. The day of the interview his son texted dad and asked “any tips?” Don’t be that guy. 

There are two things that are essential to winning. Trust and communication. If I pass you the puck do I trust that you are going to do something good with it? If someone tells you to run a play do you trust that they have given you the right play? Surround yourself with people you trust. Nurture and cherish those relationships. It will help you win. You do that with communication. Ask questions and get answers.

Are you doing the right thing? How do people perceive you? That’s an important question and more important answer. Get it from someone you trust. You are about to try and enter the workforce and will probably do so by sending a text or email which is the world you live in. Understand though the ultimate deal sealer will come from the old face to face communication.

You and the person who will decide your fate. The interview. Eye to eye. What are you about? Are you a good teammate? Why should I hire you? These are all things that are about to happen in the game you are about to play. In this case you can predict the future. You can prepare for that moment. Those are your free throws. Practice your answers over and over and then do it again.

Now some of you don’t care about sports. Well here is one last thing I have noticed in preparing to talk to you today. Thinking of all the people I have admired over the years there was one major thread that tied them all together. Whether it was music, medicine, finance or nursing, all of the highest achievers had an intense curiosity about their world and what they did. Curiosity has lead to every discovery, invention or cure. Every great legal case or merger. Everything. You have learned a great deal at
Adelphi but you will be amazed at what you have not been taught. You will have to learn those yourself with curiosity. So I am getting ready for my post game and trust me when you get here you will want look back with pride on the decisions you made starting today.

Good luck and enjoy the game. You can do this. 

 
Tagged: Commencement