OPINION: I#8217;m a Vivian Stringer fan

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I’m late to the party, but I’m a huge C. Vivian Stringer fan.

I only joined the bandwagon earlier this year when her Rutgers University team defeated my beloved Duke Blue Devils in the Sweet 16.

Watching the game from start to finish, I was impressed with the intensity, fire and passion with which Stringer coached. How I could have missed her in the coaching ranks before I am not sure.

There was no doubt that no matter how much publicity Gail Goestenkors received, she was out-coached on that day by Vivian Stringer. That isn’t a slap at Coach ‘G’ because there are a lot of people who have had that happen to them as I’ve come to learn.

In fact, when Goestenkors stepped down as Duke’s basketball coach and accepted a similar position with the University of Texas, I had two choices to succeed her. One of them is assistant coach Shannon Perry and the other was Stringer.

If Duke was to have considered Stringer, it likely wouldn’t have mattered in the last few weeks as she has been involved in taking care of her own team.

Through no fault of her own, the coach has been holding press conferences and having meetings and working with her team in the wake of her players being called “nappy-headed hos” by now-former talk show host Don Imus.

I have only two things to say about Imus as he is not my subject in this column. The first is that he is now and always was a horrible person to listen to when he’s behind a microphone. He has no value to the airways and I’m glad he is no longer on them.

Having said that, I agree with my newsroom counterpart Curly Morris that he shouldn’t have been fired. Curly, as is often the case, was right when he said Imus has a first amendment right to be an idiot if he so chooses (I’m paraphrasing). I also have a right not to listen to him and I did not because I thought he was an idiot.

Now, with that behind us, let us move on to the purpose of my writing.

In the weeks that have passed since this whole Imus thing happened, I have become more and more impressed with Vivian Stringer. She has been smart, thoughtful and above all, dignified.

When asked on my favorite sports show, “Mike & Mike” about Imus, Stringer said she had no opinion of whether or not he should be fired until she met with him. She made it clear she had one concern: the women’s basketball team at Rutgers University.

While others such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were busy shooting off at the mouth, Stringer was thoughtful and honest. She never let her team be pulled into the fray that the likes of Jackson and Sharpton would have liked.

What C. Vivian Stringer did was protect her basketball team. That’s what a true coach does. They protect their players. She wasn’t concerned about politics and the like. She was concerned about her team.

Stringer went to bat for the young women who made up her team. She was rightly enraged when she first heard the comments, but she never let that rage allow her not to be dignified.

Vivian Stringer carried herself in a way that every parent on that team should be proud their daughter has such a coach to emulate. Every administrator on the campus of Rutgers University should be proud that she is a representative of the school.

Governor Jon Corzine, when he heals from his horrendous accident, should honor her for way she represented the state of New Jersey.

As I said, no matter how many times she may beat my beloved Blue Devils, I am a huge fan of C. Vivian Stringer and I think you should be too.

Questions? Comments? Snide Remarks?

You can reach me at thadd.white@r-cnews.com or call me at 332-7211.

Be careful out there and be good sports.