Salute to Charlie Strong
The first and only time that I met Charlie Strong was backstage at the Long Center shortly before President Obama’s keynote presentation at SXSW 2016. While he was slightly shorter than I expected him to be, the muscles of his arms and his chest were formidable. Moreover, the firmness and strength of his handshake was something that I’ll remember for a long time.
I will also long remember how he confidently yet unceremoniously introduced himself to me: “Hi. I’m Coach Charlie Strong of the Texas Longhorns.”
I interpreted that line as one of subtle humility. He certainly didn’t have to identify himself — the head football coach of the University of Texas holds one of the highest positions of profile in this city. But this introduction showed that Strong didn’t make any such assumptions. Despite his high visibility and high standing in Austin, there was absolutely no sense of entitlement or arrogance. Like most people backstage at the Long Center last March, he seemed incredibly excited at the upcoming opportunity to meet the President. I was happy that SXSW (however indirectly) had helped to facilitate this connection between two self-made leaders whose careers were built via years and years of hard work, discipline, rigid goal-setting, and never ever settling for the status quo.
Here’s hoping that great things happen to Charlie Strong in his post-Texas career. I’m sad his coaching stint in Austin wasn’t more successful from a win-loss perspective. But, from almost all other perspectives, his time here produced very meaningful results. I don’t think I’m the only one in this city who learned a lot via my brief encounter with this remarkable man.