As he stood in front of the Waxahachie Lions Club as the guest speaker for the weekly luncheon Wednesday afternoon, Greg Gober made himself vulnerable.
Gober, a Waxahachie High School graduate, spoke to the members about his journey back to the Runnin' Indian basketball program and detailed the impact it has had on his life.
"I got to come home to a school and group of people who are very, very special to me," he began.
Gober noted he now has the opportunity to drive around and continually be reminded of his childhood — both the good and bad.
"If it wasn't for my high school coach, I know for a fact that I would have been in prison," he said. "[...] It was a crazy path that brought me back here.
He then reflected on the post-high school journey, which began by nearly failing out of Texas State University with an underwhelming 1.8 GPA. Gober was quick to shoulder the blame for the poor academic performance, explaining "it wasn't that Waxahachie ISD didn't prepare me for success, Greg Gober didn't prepare me."
He then transferred to Stephen F. Austin University and walked onto the football team. Before long, the grades began to drop — again — and he made the decision to quit athletics and focus on his degree.
The choice was the correct one. Gober eventually graduated with a GPA north of 3.5 and a bachelor's degree in marketing.
Though family, friends and his former high school coach Jack Aldridge continually encouraged Gober to enter the coaching field, current coaches warned against it, often citing poor pay and long hours.
So, he heeded the warnings and not the encouragement and began a career in sales for a phone company. And hated it.
A few years later and at the urging of Aldridge, Gober did finally begin his coaching career as a junior high basketball coach in Kingwood. He then moved to Abilene and, eventually, Colleyville Heritage, where his wife has taught in the same room for the last 20 years.
He then transitioned to the AAU circuit to serve as the general manager of the Texas Titans, a youth basketball organization owned by billionaire Kenny Trout — who just so happens to be a co-owner of WinStar Farms and the latest Triple Crown winner, Justify.
The stint flying across the country on private jets and scheduling travel, hotels, tournaments and more lasted two years for Gober.
Two more years at a private school in Dallas followed by being a late scratch as an assistant basketball coach at SFA, and the Waxahachie gig "just happened" to fall into his lap.
"I walked into an unbelievable situation," he said of the return home and the talent on the court. There were, though, two significant matters that had to be addressed.
The first was the need for the players and parents to transition their mindsets from that of takers to givers. The second was a "powder keg of racial tensions." Both were addressed through "outstanding community support that helped us build that bridge together."
Now, here we are: Gober and the Runnin' Indians have won back-to-back district championships in arguably the toughest basketball district in Texas. The program has quickly become one that others across the state envy, just as they did under the guidance of Aldridge.
He explained the Runnin' Indians have maximized their talents on the court and reach off of it by adhering to the G-squared mindset — Good to Great. (No, G-squared is not an acronym for "Greg Gober," though he admitted some have already made that connection).
"Because good doesn't last very long," said Gober to the club. "It is just replaced by the next good player...The power of 'no' is incredible, too, because you will probably find a way to make it work out and be better for it."
He then recalled one of his prouder moments as the Waxahachie basketball coach occurred just a few days prior when four current Runnin' Indians accompanied him to vacation Bible school at First Baptist Church. When Gober asked why the student-athletes joined, they explained it was to show the community how great, not just good, they have become — even off of the court.
Gober ended his time speaking to the Lions Club by detailing his idea — or goal, rather — to reestablish a communitywide youth basketball league.
He explained, "Waxahachie needs to get back to a youth development deal, and we need people like you guys to help make that happen."
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith