As the Toronto Raptors continue their pursuit of an NBA Championship, light has shone deservedly on their coach Dwayne Casey. When Casey took over the team in 2011, one of his first acts was to have a 500-pound granite rock placed outside the Raptors’ dressing room. It was a symbol of his belief that to be successful the team needed to ‘pound the rock.’
Casey borrowed this maxim from San Antonio Spurs coach Greg Popovich, who during his 20-year run with the Spurs has won five NBA championships. Popovich, who reads widely, came upon the idea of pounding the rock after learning about the work of the 19th century social reformer Jacob Riis. Through persistent effort, Riis’s efforts led to significant changes in living and working conditions for the lower classes in New York City. Riis drew inspiration with his work from the example of the stonecutter, who hammers away at a stone repeatedly without any noticeable impact, but stays at it knowing that the hundredth blow may split the stone in two.
As Popovich noted, Riis’s example applies to all walks of life and that good things happen when “you keep looking, keep trying and keep going.” In other words, persistent effort, though not readily apparent, bears results. This message is relevant to students as they approach the final evaluation period. I reminded students to continue the good study habits they had been working on throughout the year: going for extra help, working with their advisers and teachers on study schedules and ensuring they get plenty of rest and physical activity throughout the final weeks of the year.