Blueprint for success from a Mercer Island legend | Greg Asimakoupoulos

Ed Pepple’s “Blueprint for Success” included the following 20 bullet points.

Fifteen years ago last month, our youngest daughter graduated from Mercer Island High School. Because I was a pastor in the community at the time, I was included in the baccalaureate program. The keynote speaker was Ed Pepple, the legendary basketball coach at the high school. Ed had just retired after 42 years at MIHS in which he led the Islanders to four state championships.

Although I did not know “Coach” personally, I was aware that his son Kyle taught school in my hometown of Wenatchee. As the father of one of the graduates, I listened intently to what Ed shared from my daughter’s perspective. The winningest high school basketball coach in Washington state history offered lessons he’d learned in his stellar career.

Having just lost my dad a few months before, I was alert to the coach’s fatherlike advice. He called his life lessons “A Blueprint for Success.” Even though I heard him give his talk 15 years ago, I’ve kept the notes to presentation on my laptop ever since.

Ed’s “Blueprint for Success” included the following 20 bullet points:

1. Be a giver, not a taker.

2. Have enthusiasm for everything you do.

3. All setbacks are temporary because obstacles are only steppingstones to success.

4. Give extra effort and always do more than is necessary.

5. Accept responsibility for all of your actions because excuses are for losers.

6. Put first things first by prioritizing.

7. Think positively about everything.

8. Practice random acts of kindness.

9. Leaders and champions are made and not born.

10. If you always tell the truth, there is less to remember.

11. It is amazing what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.

12. Make dust or eat dust. You are not in competition with others.

13. Value your friends and never let them down.

14. Know how to accept a compliment because if you reject them, you’ll cease to get them, and compliments are good things.

15. Be willing to compromise.

16. Better to shoot high and miss than to shoot low and hit your mark.

17. It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.

18. Choose your friends wisely because they are like the buttons on an elevator. They will either take you up or take you down.

19. Time is the greatest gift of all so don’t waste it. The bad news is that time flies. The good news is that you are the pilot.

20. No rain means no rainbows.

After his retirement from coaching, Ed Pepple became a friend of mine. We had a mutual friend in Gary Snyder (whose son Quin had played for Ed back in the 1980s). Gary included me in his visits with “Coach.” We enjoyed breakfast periodically at The Pancake Corral where there was an item on the menu named for him.

Early on in our friendship, Ed told me that his wife, Shirley, was a faithful reader of my newspaper columns. I was humbled. From that point on, I felt the permission to relate to the legend as a peer. He never tired of boasting about his grandson Matt Logie, who had followed in his footsteps as a standout basketball coach.

When Ed was diagnosed with cancer, our visits included a spiritual component. Although quiet about his faith, he allowed me to pray with him. When he passed away in 2020 at the age of 88, Ed’s wife, Shirley, welcomed me into the family circle as their personal chaplain. Covid restrictions prevented what would have been standing-room only celebration of life of a man who left his mark on countless lives and on our community.

Recently I learned that there is talk about the possibility of naming the Mercer Island High School basketball court after Ed. I don’t know what all would be involved in bringing about such a tribute, but I hope it comes to pass. I also hope it happens while Ed’s wife is still alive to witness what would be a most worthy acknowledgement of one of Washington state’s greatest sports personalities. In the meantime, I’m grateful for his “Blueprint for Success.”

Guest columnist Greg Asimakoupoulos is a former chaplain at Covenant Living at the Shores in Mercer Island.