A Microphone, a Jacket and a Dream

April 5, 2012 by Gary Heise

Interact with Jim Nantz for a weekend at the NCAA Final Four and one message will resonate loud and clear – follow your dreams.

It’s a theme that Nantz believes in because it’s the story of his life.

Arguably the most recognized voice in sports broadcasting today, Nantz is doing exactly what he aspired to do since he was a child. He didn’t just dream about being a sportscaster someday, he wanted specifically to cover the Final Four, the National Football League and the PGA Tour – most notably The Masters (more on this amazing story later).

I had the pleasure, along with my team at Premier Sports, to work alongside Nantz last weekend in New Orleans during college basketball’s biggest event – the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. He served as spokesperson for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, which honors the top college basketball student-athletes in America for both on-court and off-court excellence.

Nantz introduced the 10 finalists and announced the winner – Purdue’s Robbie Hummel – on the Superdome floor during Final Four Friday and voiced the Senior CLASS Award feature on CBS that aired during the Bridge Show between Saturday’s two semifinal games. But it was at a Saturday morning breakfast attended by the award finalists and about 50 Lowe’s regional managers that Nantz shared his story about dreaming big.

Daring to dream, he said, is one thing.  But believing in that dream is what will drive it to fruition – having an absolute belief and resolve in it and then surrounding yourself with people who will be a positive influence on that belief, not a negative influence.

Here’s where it gets really good. With these senior basketball stars listening to every word, Nantz went on to tell the story of he and Fred Couples, one of golf’s great competitors of the past quarter-century.  The two were roommates at the University of Houston in the late 1970s.  Both played on the Cougars golf team.

During their time together at Houston, Couples dreamed of being a PGA Tour professional – and specifically of putting on the famous green jacket as champion at The Masters. Nantz dreamed of broadcasting on CBS—- and specifically of calling the action at The Masters. Together, they talked about the day that those two dreams would collide – Couples winning The Masters and Nantz being on that same stage with him as the CBS announcer while Couples was donning the green jacket.

This wasn’t a one-day-at-the-lunch-hall conversation. They talked about it over and over and over. Nantz even admitted they rehearsed it in their dorm room on multiple occasions. He would interview Couples with a fake microphone, asking him about winning this prestigious event and then pretending to put on the jacket.

They both believed. They were convinced it would happen.

In April of 1992, less than 15 years after they started rehearsing the scene, it played out in real life at Augusta National.  Couples won his first Masters.  Nantz was broadcasting it on CBS. You can imagine the moment when the two met face to face in the clubhouse for the famed jacket presentation. When the cameras went on, there was Nantz, interviewing Couples – just like they had practiced years back in their dorm room with nobody watching them – only this time in front of millions of television viewers worldwide. Filled with emotion, both struggled to get through the interview and then broke down as the jacket went around Couples shoulders.

Now that’s a dream come true!

Nantz has obviously continued on with his incredible broadcasting career and experienced many memorable moments in sports. But none will compare to sharing his dream with his college buddy.

It’s a wonderful lesson in the power of believing in ourselves and in each other. It’s a lesson for anybody at any age. It’s especially important for our young people – like the Senior CLASS Award finalists who all absorbed Nantz’s powerful message.

Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do something, regardless of how big it may seem.  I’m sure had some of their classmates at Houston back in the day happened to walk into that dorm room and witness the Nantz/Couples dream “rehearsal,” they would have laughed.

Your dream may not involve a microphone or a jacket.  But if you can dream it….and if you believe in it….and pursue it with a resolve to achieve it…..anything can happen. 

Just ask Jim Nantz.